Used with permission from Andrew Peng and photo by Sarah Zhang.

Seniors Andrew Peng and Priscilla Leang commit to Colorado College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology respectively.

College recruits Priscilla Leang and Andrew Peng

February 6, 2023

Andrew Peng commits to Colorado College for cross country and track and field


Used with permission from Andrew Peng

Senior Andrew Peng will be joining the Colorado College cross country and track and field team.

Senior Andrew Peng has committed to Colorado College for cross country and track and field after four years of consistent training. There, he plans to major in applied mathematics and continue his exemplary running career, which has included his personal record of 2 minutes and 5 seconds in the 800-meter mid-distance and 17 minutes and 58 seconds in the 5000-meter long-distance races.

Peng was a member of Miller Middle School’s track team and has been running all his life to stay fit. In ninth grade, he signed up for Lynbrook’s cross country team with his friends, initially treating it as a form of endurance training for long-distance races in track and field. Since then, Peng began to run on a near-daily basis.

Despite burnout and plateaus in performance, Peng has stuck to cross country and track, out of pure enjoyment of running. In particular, injuries tested his dedication to the sport. At the beginning of his high school career, Peng struggled with a muscle overuse injury from training too hard. However, this situation helped him comprehend how much stress his body could handle. After a season-long recovery period, he was able to work toward new personal records by using a better training schedule that pushed him to a healthy limit. 

“I was getting slower and slower,” Peng said. “It was hard to see others running past me while my progress remained stagnant.”

Indeed, Peng’s teammates agree that resilience is one of his key traits. In the 2022 cross country season, Peng initially didn’t do well in a number of races, owing to his poor sleep schedule compounded with over-training. Nevertheless, he learned from his mistakes and bounced back in time for Central Coast Section championships, in which he was able to make the CCS team for the first time.

“He just refuses to give up,” junior Adit Kantak said. “He doesn’t let his past slumps affect him.”

As it only takes up to an hour or so every day, training does not generally get in the way of Peng’s schoolwork. Nevertheless, his daily runs occasionally become tedious. When he feels lethargic, Peng stays motivated by reminding himself about what he runs for — notably faster times and the sunshine and scenery outside. 

“I’m able to meet other like-minded runners and make new friends through this shared sport,” Peng said. “Running is an outlet to get my mind off academic pressures.”

Peng is thankful for not only his family’s support during his running career, but also to his teammates. Cross country is both an individual and a team sport; runners are judged by their personal times, which are added to their team’s rankings. Training with friends was a key incentive in regards to his cross country career, so the running community is especially important to Peng. 

“Our team is pretty laid back, but we do know to take the training seriously,” Peng said. “My teammates and coaches push me day in and day out to bring out the best in me.”

Peng’s teammates look up to him as a strong leader. He is regarded as the team captain, despite the fact he does not hold the formal position. Before races, Peng brings the team together to warm-up and get ready. He is also often the first person runners will go to with questions.

“He’s really approachable and encouraging,” Kantak said. “With Andrew, I always feel that we’re in it together, and we’re in it to win it.”

With running being such a large part of his life, Peng naturally wanted to continue his athletic career at the next level. He reached out to coaches of certain universities that fit with his academic goals, and visited a few campuses and their teams over the summer break before his senior year. In this process, he was especially drawn to Colorado College. 

“I really enjoyed the team environment when they hosted me in October,” Peng said. “It was wonderful meeting everyone, and Colorado Springs is such a beautiful place. Being right under Pikes Peak, the location is hard to beat.”

Included with his plans of pursuing financial mathematics, Peng hopes to continue breaking personal records in cross country. Colorado College’s block plan, in which students focus on one class for 18 days at a time, offers Peng the flexibility in his schedule to excel in both his academic and athletic careers. 

Cross country has become more than just a way of exercise to Peng, and he looks forward to running for as long as his body allows him to. 

“Know that difficulties and obstacles will come to pass,” Peng said. “If you can work through them, you will be able to return to chasing your goals.”

Priscilla Leang commits to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for fencing


Photo by Sarah Zhang

Senior Priscilla Leang will be fencing for Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Senior Priscilla Leang began fencing in her first grade with her older sister, class of 2021 alumnus Andrea Leang. Since then, the sport has followed her changes of residence, from New Jersey to China to California. In the fall of 2023, Priscilla will rejoin her sister to fence for Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Priscilla began fencing due to the rivalry between her mother and her neighbor, who boasted about her son’s awards in fencing. The following year, Priscilla bid goodbye to her New Jersey fencing community, and she found a new team and coach in China, where she lived for four years. Currently, Priscilla fences for the Academy of Fencing Masters in Campbell, Calif.

Priscilla’s first international tournament was the 2020 Pan American Championships for Cadets in El Salvador, which she took part in as a member of Team USA along with her sister. However, in the first round of direct eliminations, she had to fence her sister. 

“I was super stoked to participate,” Priscilla said. “But I was disappointed when I realized I traveled all the way there just to be eliminated by my sister.”

When the pandemic hit, Priscilla and Andrea were unable to train at their fencing club, so they practiced at home, converting part of their garage into a practice room. 

“My sister and I have always been fencing together and would get frustrated at each other too,” Priscilla said. “But I’ve improved so much because of her, and I’m really grateful for her.”

Fencing requires a large time commitment, especially due to the extended commute times involved with traveling to distant competitions. Priscilla has managed to find a balance between her academics and fencing through making use of all the time she can find to complete her work. For example, after her defeat in the 2020 Pan American Championships, she passed the bronze level of the United States of America Computing Olympiad while she waited for her sister to finish competing. Priscilla feels thankful for being able to discover this balance in high school, and will continue to use those strategies in MIT to stay successful both in the classroom and the arena. 

“I do my work whenever I can, because I’m not the best at planning,” Priscilla said. “I often remind myself that, as an athlete, I can’t afford to be distracted and that forces me to manage my time better.”

Priscilla cites her strategizing skills as the reason she can excel at fencing. In fact, many fencers refer to the sport as games of physical chess, demonstrating the importance of tactics: knowing how and when to fake or trick the opponent.  This contrasts with football, which she joined in her senior year,  a sport that is based more on strength and speed. 

“I am not as fast as my peers,” Priscilla said, “but I have a good sense of distance and timing, which I base my strategy on.”

Since fencing is heavily reliant on strategy, mental blocks are particularly disastrous, and they have jeopardized her confidence. When she was in a rut, Priscilla felt helpless as to how to improve. For a while, she couldn’t figure out how to utilize a more diverse range of techniques, as she did not feel confident in moves other than two she depended on.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Priscilla said. “I couldn’t think past the basic moves I always fell back on.”

Priscilla’s dream school has been MIT, partly because it’s where her sister attends. More importantly, Priscilla is looking to pursue further learning in engineering. MIT not only has the high rankings that would fulfill those goals, its entire culture is deeply rooted in technology, invoking engineering into everyday tasks. Priscilla was fascinated by MIT’s fencing research, which her sister participated in. The data-driven training uses virtual reality techniques, sourced from the movements of more experienced fencers, to help inexperienced fencers improve.

“What other school involves technology in sports, much less to say in such a niche sport?” Priscilla said. 

MIT is unique from other schools in another way, as they expect their athletes to be accepted into the school on terms of their own academic merit before they commit to an intercollegiate sport. In fact, Priscilla had been advised against applying to MIT, as she had already received an offer from Johns Hopkins University. Though MIT does not offer pre-reads, Priscilla applied with a recommendation letter from MIT’s fencing coach, after he determined her to be qualified enough for the team. 

“His recommendation letter was the icing on the cake,” Priscilla said. “I appreciate his support and belief in me.”

Priscilla is leaning toward pursuing engineering in college, though she ultimately plans to keep her choices open and explore all that MIT has to offer. She is particularly interested in joining MIT’s poker club. As an athlete, Priscilla looks forward to qualifying for NCAA Regionals. 

Priscilla decided to be a student athlete because she values being part of a strong community, especially in college. Furthermore, she wants to stay fit. And after fencing for 12 years, Priscilla can’t imagine herself without her epee.

“Even though I have a love-hate relationship with fencing, it has been part of my life for so long.” Priscilla said. “My relationship with fencing is the same as how most parents love their children despite being annoyed from time to time.”

For fencers and aspiring student athletes, Priscilla emphasizes the importance of never giving up on yourself. No matter how slim the chances may seem, there will always be a chance to make a comeback.

“If you can’t find a way, make a way,” Priscilla said. “There will never be a totally unbeatable opponent or strategy. Even if your technique may not be skillful enough to pull off one particular move, there is going to be another you may win with.”

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About the Contributor
Photo of Sarah Zhang
Sarah Zhang, Staffer

(she/her) Sarah is a senior and second-year staffer. She spends her time exploring the poetry of life, through music, writing, and design. She enjoys dreaming,...

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