Student-Athlete Spotlight: Senior Rola Mustafa rises above the competition in senior season

March 10, 2024

By Alexandra Lourenço

After a sudden bout of appendicitis in April curtailed her outdoor track and field season last year, senior Rola Mustafa came back better than ever in her final indoor track and field season.

Mustafa and senior Julia Tozduman made history on Jan. 22 when they jumped five feet, respectively, resulting in a total of 10 feet, breaking the former school record of 9 feet, 6 inches and placing first at the Bergen County Relays at the Armory Track in New York City. 

“I had been trying to hit five feet since my sophomore year, and I finally hit it,” Mustafa said. “It was like this weight was [lifted] off my shoulder.”

Mustafa said that moment brought her a sense of pride. 

“It was just amazing to finally achieve something that I had been wanting to do,” Mustafa said.

Not only has Mustafa broken the high jump relay, but she also broke her personal high jump record at the Bergen County Championship at the Armory Track on Feb. 14. She jumped 5 feet, 2 inches, securing second place for the first time individually.

“I felt amazing and accomplished. Breaking my [personal record] three times this season is something I will never forget, and I’m proud of all the work I put in,” Mustafa said.

 She participates in the 100-meter hurdle, 200-meter sprint, 400-meter hurdle, 400-meter sprint and high jump. 

 Mustafa, who has competed on the indoor and outdoor varsity track and field teams since her sophomore year, said she hopes her hard work will pay off in her final outdoor track and field season.

“I want to [break my] PR in all of my events, hurdles especially,” Mustafa said. “I have been working hard on those for the past four years, and I didn’t get the chance last year to actually show that work because [of] my injury.”

 Tozduman said breaking this record with Mustafa was a testament to their tenacity.

“Rola and I have been working so hard, and the broken record just shows all the work that we’ve been putting in,” Tozduman said.

She said Mustafa is an amazing teammate and an inspiration.

“Rola is extremely determined. She puts her all into every event she does, and that’s the kind of person you want as a teammate,” Tozduman said. “She cares so much about what she does and has so much passion for the sport.

Senior Samantha Cardo, who is on the indoor and outdoor track and field team with Mustafa, said Mustafa is great at comforting her teammates as well as hyping them up.

“She is always so happy and brings such a bright energy,” Cardo said. “She’s a ray of sunshine for all of us.”

Cardo said Mustafa exhibits leadership by mentoring the underclassmen.

“She will go up to them and [say], ‘Hey here is how you do it,’ and just say ‘hello’ and make them feel comfortable,” Cardo said.

 Head Coach Hykey said Mustafa leads by example.

“She works hard, she cares about school, she cares about her friends and she cares about anything she’s involved in,” Hykey said. “She makes people around her better, and I don’t think that she’s even aware of that.”

“Rola is extremely determined. She puts her all into every event she does, and that’s the kind of person you want as a teammate.”

Hykey said Mustafa is a well-rounded student who skillfully juggles her commitments, which include Debate Club, Mock Trial Club and National Honor Society.

“She’s an athlete, [and] she’s involved in clubs…. She [can] assimilate herself into anything and be comfortable and excel,” Hykey said.

She said Mustafa’s excellent return from her injury shows her resilience.

“To have her bounce back like this [is] good for her because she deserves that,” Hykey said.

Hykey said she anticipates Mustafa’s final track and field season will be filled with achievements.

“She has a lot of momentum built up,” Hykey said. “If she continues to train, the momentum will carry her to have her best season yet.”

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