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Girls Track and Field: Garcia runs her fastest 3,000 at state meet

One runner is faster than the next at the New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships. No slowpokes here.

The fastest even make the others faster. A personal record — or “pr” in track shorthand — is often the product of being pushed by tough competition.

So, in a sense, Nicole Garcia could thank her competitors for pushing her to run the 3,000 meters faster than she ever had before. The Shoreham-Wading River senior was pushed enough to shatter her previous personal record by five seconds Saturday at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island. Garcia’s time of 10 minutes, 5.67 seconds ranked her 10th among 32 runners overall.

Cornwall freshman Karrie Baloga was first in 9:34.52.

“Those girls definitely pushed me to my limit,” Garcia said after her first state meet of any kind for track. “I felt very tired at first, but when I started seeing the split times, I knew that the pace was quicker and I knew I was going to pr.

“I was very fatigued. [The leaders] were a hundred meters away from me, but I just kept pushing to reach them.”

Shoreham coach Paul Koretzki said he wanted Garcia to break 10:00 and win a medal, “but it wasn’t in the cards.”

“I thought it was excellent,” he said of her 3,000 race. “The competition was great. I thought she had to go out a little faster earlier and get up a little higher. She didn’t do that … She missed a medal by four seconds.”

After the 3,000, Garcia had an almost four-hour wait for her second race of the day, the 1,500. She said she jogged, stretched and got herself mentally prepared for that race in the interim.

What was her race strategy?

“Just to go all out the whole time and hope for a pr,” she said.

Garcia missed equaling her career-best in the 1,500 by one second, clocking 4:45.49 and coming in 11th among 30 runners. North Rockland senior Katelyn Tuohy finished first in 4:20.81.

A bloodied right shin was evidence of a spike Garcia took to her leg during the race. “That probably threw my time off a little, but I just tried to get back and race with the other top girls,” she said.

Garcia was third in her heat, making a strong finish. “She’s very aggressive,” Koretzki said. “You noticed at the end of the 1,500, there wasn’t anybody around her and she ran really hard the last lap and a half. She was sprinting. She couldn’t catch anybody [two were in front of her] because they were far in front of her and she couldn’t get caught.”

Garcia, who will run for Stony Brook University on scholarship, has one final indoor meet representing Shoreham. That will be the Emerging Elite 3,000 in the New Balance Nationals Indoor Friday at The Armory in Manhattan. The state meet was good preparation, with the high-caliber runners it had.

Said Garcia, “It’s no joke, that’s for sure.”

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