Olivia Duca has a mystical confidence in her kick. And why shouldn’t she? After a phenomenal cross country season, the South Side sophomore has proved that she can run with the best of them, and beat them too.
So when she remained two or three steps behind North Shore’s Nicole Schneider in the opening laps of the 3,000 meters at the North Shore Invitational, she didn’t worry. Duca knew a kick was coming.
“It’s a very good superpower, I guess,” Duca said. “They know I’m coming and I can just scoot by them.”
Like all good superheroes, Duca knew when, and how, to use that superpower and Wednesday, she executed it brilliantly. Duca passed Schneider with 300 meters to go and cruised to victory in 10 minutes, 26.58 seconds at the Armory in Manhattan. Schneider was second in 10:35.26.
“The goal is to be tired enough and not save too much until the end so that the kick is just barely what it needs to be,” Duca said. “…if you have something left, you might as well use it.”
Duca wasn’t sure she would even make the fast section of the race, let alone win it.
“I didn’t really know my competition,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if this was going to be very competitive, but I had an idea that fast people would be here. I was actually worried that I wouldn’t make it into the first heat because my [personal best] from last spring was 11:01. But I only raced [the 3,000] once and knew I could do much better.”
When Duca got the call for the top section, she knew exactly how to approach it.
“I was just trying to stick with [Schneider] and maintain the pace,” Duca said. “I knew she was a strong runner. She’s experienced. I knew that I could stick with her and, hopefully, pass her.”
Duca also finished fifth in the 1,000 in 3:06.99. Kellenberg’s Maureen Lewin won the 1,000 in 2:58.61. It was the second consecutive year Lewin won the event at the North Shore Invitational.
Elsewhere, Valley Stream South’s DeAnna Martin needed a late surge of her own to win the 600 in 1:36.40. She was second in the 1,000 in 2:59.39.
Martin said she was unhappy with her start in the 600 but made up for it on the back end.
“When I started, I felt like I wasn’t in the race,” Martin said. “…I kind of psyched myself out. I felt like my start was delayed and, right away, the two girls next to me passed me.”
The panic didn’t last long.
“Around the second curve, when we were allowed to cut in, I felt like my usual self and started feeling confident,” Martin said.
Martin passed Connecticut Bloomfield’s Jillian Mars on the final lap. Mars was second in 1:37.38.
“I was trying to pass her on the first curve, but she was going really fast,” Martin said. “So, on the last curve, I picked it up.”