Gernhardt began running track during the summer of 2015. She recalled participating in a track camp: “That is where I really started to gain confidence in the sport and discover my love and talent for track.” In sixth grade, she joined her middle-school track team. She joined the Hopkins team in ninth grade; her events include the 100 meter sprint, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay, and high jump.
Gernhardt said, “When I first started track at Hopkins, I was definitely intimidated by all the upperclassmen. However, that all changed really quickly once the season continued. It really just becomes one big family and practices are always a lot of fun.” In regards to the team environment, Gernhardt explained, “We’re always challenging each other and pushing each other to work harder and run faster. We’re all really close and celebrate our achievements with everyone.”
Gernhardt is a proven leader as she has previously served as captain of the Girls Varsity Soccer and Basketball teams. As captain, it is Gernhardt’s responsibility to form good relationships with her teammates. She said, “I always try to become close with all of my teammates and create a bond between us… I want to make sure that my teammates can count on me to be a good leader, and trust me with whatever problems they might have.” Dawson said, “Nina is a really talented track athlete, even with running not being her main sport. She’s constantly impressing me with the span of events that she competes in. Aside from her talent, Nina is an integral part of our team. Her jokes during warmups and constant support make being her teammate a real privilege.” Teammate McKenna D’Amico ’23 added, “Nina has been a dedicated member of our track team and loves the sport. She always brings the competitiveness and dedication along with an energetic team spirit to every practice and meet. The team loves her and looks up to her as the new captain of the girls team. She will help lead the team to a great season.”
Coach Michael Christie attested to Gernhardt’s exemplary captainship: “She is always willing to take on challenges and hard workouts, and model that attitude for the rest of her teammates.” He said, “Her teammates look up to her and follow her guidance and instruction.” When asked to describe Gernhardt as an athlete, Christie replied, “She’s talented but she doesn’t rely on her talent. She comes to practice putting in the hard work that is needed for her to be successful. I appreciate the fact that [when] I have asked her to do events that she wasn’t comfortable with, she might’ve grumbled about it but she did it. And she would surprise herself often times and do very well in the events.” He continued, “I appreciate that about her and I appreciate that when things don’t make sense she asks questions to try to get a better sense.”
Gernhardt received all-FAA recognition and was chosen to represent Hopkins in the 4x100 team at the Penn Relays last season, one of the oldest and largest track and field competitions in the United States. Gernhardt said, “My favorite track memory was Penn Relays last year. The girls and boys 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams went to UPenn to compete and it was a lot of fun. We talked and laughed for hours on the train rides until we were getting complaints and stayed up eating pizza in our hotel rooms.” She continued, “I can’t wait to go again this year with hopefully more members of our team.”
Going into her final track season, Gernhardt prides herself on understanding the value of hard work and dedication. She said, “I’ve learned that you can only go so far off of raw talent. The runners on the track team are some of the hardest working people I know and we all put a lot of work and practice into getting better and improving our technique.” When asked to give a piece of advice to new runners, she said, “Don’t be afraid to try new events. If you’re just starting out it’s good to try everything to see what you like and what you’re good at.”