Mercy’s Schumann has shot at a relay medal in state meet

Olivia Schumann doesn’t know who she will be running with in the intersectional medley relay in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Saturday, and that’s fine with her.

In fact, none of the runners have run with each other.

“Our section is pretty competitive,” she said. “It’s fine. I don’t know who they are. They made it to the states for a reason.”

So did the Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School senior, who finished third in the 300-meter run at the state qualifiers last month. Schumann qualified for the states and will run the 200-meter, second leg of the race, which includes distances at of 1,000, 600 and 1,600 meters (in that order) at Cornell University in Ithaca.

“I’m excited to go,” she said. “I’m going on the relay, so there’s not much pressure. I’m going up there to have a good time.”

Given Suffolk County’s success in the past and overall depth, the relay team could finish among the best in the state as opposed to Schumann winding up in the middle of the pack in an individual event.

“There is a good chance of her coming home with an all-state medal,” McGann-Mercy Coach Gregg Cantwell said. “It would have been more difficult to get into the final [individually].”

But there are challenges when running a relay without knowing the intricacies of the handoffs with partners you are unfamiliar with. “I’m going to have to show her what they’re going to expect her to do,” Cantwell said.

However, it may not be as vital as one might think.

“The relay is so long, the handoffs don’t matter too much,” he added. “When a race is 11 minutes long, a handoff is not a big deal.”

One of Schumann’s final preps for the state meet was the Long Island Track and Field Invitational at St. Anthony’s High School on Saturday. She ran a time of 43.70 seconds in the 300, which was off her 43.12 clocking, the fourth-fastest time in Suffolk this season.

“She didn’t run her fastest,” Cantwell said. “She didn’t run poorly. She used lane 2, which is the worst lane for the 300 at St. Anthony’s.”

Added Schumann: “I was upset about that. Well, if that was my bad time, I had a pretty good season.”

Still, Schumann’s improvement in the 300 has been substantial. “I dropped a full second, which is a lot in the 300,” she said.

One of the keys to Schumann’s success was a decision to forgo the high jump this season.

“I tried to explain to her. She’s a very good high jump, but she could be a really, really good [runner],” Cantwell said. “I’m very happy with Olivia and the way things turned out.”

Regardless how Schumann fares in Ithaca, there will be little rest. The nationals are set for the Armory in New York City from March 11 to 13. Then it’s on to prepare for the outdoor season.

“I don’t mind not having a break,” she said. “It’s O.K.”