Miller Place's Tiana Guevara had many goals entering this season. She wanted to set personal records, win a state title, and generally improve as a runner. But above all, Guevara wanted to have fun doing it.
Toward the end of her sophomore season, the fun of running got lost in the shuffle. She trained hard for the state track and field championships last spring, but didn't do nearly as well as she had planned to in the 3,000 meters.
"I never wanted to feel like that again," Guevara said.
After speaking to her coach, Fran Sullivan, Guevara decided to change her workout routine -- concentrating less on distance running and more on strength training.
"I really committed myself, and raised the intensity of everything I did," she said. "But I wanted to keep it fun. Last year, I started to get a little too intense."
The junior lifts weights twice a week and completes a series of 200 meter (or, half the size of a cross country track) runs with 30 seconds of rest in between.
"It's a very hard work out," she said. But the intensity paid off. Guevara was dominant on Long Island during the fall season, particularly during the November postseason races.
She finished second in the state Class B race, notching the highest L.I. finish with an 18:28.8 on the 5k course at Elma Meadows. The finish was her best in four trips to the meet.
"Since we missed counties [because of superstorm Sandy], I felt kind of weird going into it. I'm so used to having another race before [states]," Guevara said. "But I ran the course the night before and felt good."
Her outstanding performance at the Suffolk Division meet qualified her for states. Held at Sunken Meadow in late October, Guevara won in 18:49.70, a time that she still marvels at.
"I didn't expect to run that fast," she said. "I thought that maybe I would come close to breaking 19 minutes, but I didn't expect to break it by that much."
Few do. The mark ranks seventh all-time among girls on the Sunken Meadow 5k course, according to Sullivan.
While states and Divisions may have seen Guevara finish higher, no race this season was more satisfying than the Nike Regional championships in Wappingers Falls.
Finishing sixth individually and seventh overall, Guevara barely missed qualifying for the Nike National meet, but it hardly spoiled her mood.
A time of 18:43 set a personal record on the Bowdoin Park course. "I really like [that course]," she said. "I figured I might as well finish my season there with a [personal record]. I wouldn't have wanted to finish my season any better."
Top finishes and personal records. Sounds like a lot of fun.