• Athletics
Big Red Profile: Manoc Joa-Griffith ‘22

By Victor Zhu ‘23

Big Red Sports Reporter Victor Zhu ’23 caught up with boys’ indoor track captain Manoc Joa-Griffith ’22 before winter break to learn about what it is like to lead the squad.

How long have you been a track athlete?

I have been a track athlete for four years. I started track back in my (Second Form) year when I first came to Lawrenceville. It was completely new to me, but my dad ran here.  He was a distance runner who did more of the 800 (meters) and 1600 (meters) while I do more of the 200 (meters) the 55 (meters) and the 400 (meters). 

Do you have a favorite memory?

I have a lot. For me, probably one of the biggest, best feelings was a 4x400 against the Hill School last year. We did not have many meets last year because of Covid, but when we did, they were really hype. We were trailing, and I was the anchor; I remember pulling ahead somewhere around the 150 and keeping (the lead) for the rest of the 400. I just remember there were a lot of people there, and you can hear the crowd raising their voices. It was a really hype meet. Also, it was really fun to beat our rival and to clench that 4x400 at the end.

What are some of the goals you have for the rest of the season?  

At my last meet, I did my first 55 meters since my (Second Form) year. I asked the coach if I could be in it, and I dropped my main event— which is the 400—just for this meet. I did really, really well (6.61) – very close to the School record. I would really like to build on that and hopefully clinch that record. I am also looking at the 400 indoor record set by Jakob Kunzer ’20 a couple of years back. He was my mentor, and he has really made me into the runner I am today. I want to make him proud by breaking his own record.

What do you enjoy most about this sport?

I would say the best part about track is the community. You can come to one of our practices and look at the atmosphere: we are blasting music, dancing, singing, and also putting in the work. I’ve made a lot of friends who have really broadened my horizons. We just want to run fast and have fun. Hopefully, that culture will continue by the time the other seniors and I leave.

What does it mean to you to be a team captain?

For me, that was a really big deal. I was really hoping that I would get the team captain considering how much work, effort, and commitment I have put in.

When you look from the outside, track appears to be very a very individual sport - we are really trying to avoid that here. For me, the team captain is about trying to unify the team, making sure that we are doing all of our warm-ups and running together. The key part here is not to try to reach the same time but to put in the same amount of effort as every other person on the team—and that has to be 100 percent. For me, it’s really about making sure that these kids are having a great time and that they are unified as a team even when I’m not there.

Do you have any role models for your sport?

(Former Lawrenceville head indoor track coach) Dr. (Erik) Chaput - he was really my role model. He even checks in on me now. Last year, he always looked after me. He was my advisor, he was one of my House Heads, and he was just always there for me.

Also, I would say Usain Bolt. I think the flare he has is really cool and interesting. It’s something that I want to look after as well. It’s like making sure that you are having fun winning and that win means a lot to you. Especially since he is Jamaican, and that I am Jamaican, he means a lot to my family and my culture. It’s hard to forget about him.

For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.