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Girls Winter Track: SWR’s Garcia doesn’t tire from challenges

Nicole Garcia will be busy Saturday at the state indoor track and field championships. She will run two events covering 4,500 meters that day at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island.

Is that a cause for concern?


Garcia is expected to have nearly four hours between her 3,000-meter race in the morning and the 1,500 later in the day. That should be plenty of time for the Shoreham-Wading River High School senior, who has been described as tireless, to recover.

“She doesn’t get tired, so it doesn’t really matter,” said Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki.

Then again, Garcia sure looked fatigued this past Saturday when she bent over following the 1,500 race in the Long Island Elite Indoor Meet at St. Anthony’s High School. Of course, she had good reason to be tired. She had just pushed Mount Sinai’s star runner, senior Sarah Connelly, to the finish line.

Garcia led the first two laps before Connelly took charge, but Garcia kept pressuring Connelly to the end. Connelly won in 4 minutes, 41.56 seconds. Garcia was second in a personal-record 4:44.00.

“My goal was just to run my race and go out as hard as I can and try to keep it, but Sarah Connelly definitely pushed me,” said Garcia, who sliced 0.21 seconds off her previous best time. “I’m extremely happy. I’m so happy I pr’d. It’s been a while and this is just my goal.”

Koretzki said Garcia ran a “great race” and shows no fear of challenges. “If she’s that close to Connelly at the state meet, she’s going to get a medal,” he said.

Garcia, who joined the team as an eighth-grade sprinter, has undergone a meteoric rise this season.

“This is a miracle,” Koretzki said. He added: “She was an average sprinter. She’s an outstanding [long-]distance runner.”

Garcia, wearing bright pink track shoes, said, “I have a lot of determination and I’m a little stubborn, so every practice I try to go as hard as I can just to get to this point.”

Asked if she gets tired, she answered: “I do. I just try to not look that tired.”

Unlike Garcia, Riverhead senior Kristina Deraveniere didn’t have much company during her 600 run, and it made a difference. With not many runners near her during her heat, Deraveniere finished fifth overall in 1:46.46, enough for a medal, but a time that did not sit well with her.

“It was absolutely terrible,” she said.

Her fastest time is 1:39.98, the Riverhead school record she set at the state qualifying meet. In this most recent race, though, Deraveniere didn’t get the push she wanted. “I’m so used to running with other people that are around my time, so for me running this was really difficult,” she said. “I’m not really used to that.”

“The times were spread by like eight seconds, seven seconds,” she continued. “I didn’t have anyone to really run with, so it was very difficult.”

Huntington sophomore Analisse Batista set a meet record with a winning time of 1:34.69.

Deraveniere will compete in the state meet, running the 600 as part of Section XI’s intersectional distance medley relay team.

“I have one more meet left,” she said. “I’m definitely going to push it more with that.”

Not all 1,500 race walkers like their event as much as Shoreham’s Torre Ann Parrinello seems to.

“She really likes it,” Koretzki said. “When she’s running cross country, she says to me, ‘When does race walk start?’ ”

That enthusiasm for the event brought Parrinello the League IV championship, third place in the county small schools championships and fifth in Saturday’s meet. The junior’s time was 7:53.20.

“I really like the challenge of the race walk,” she said. “Each race I have to fight to get a good place.”

Notes. In the frosh/soph 300, Shoreham freshman Madison Zelin came in seventh in 46.16.