By Christopher Hunt
Holly Cavalluzzo led almost every step of the Division I race at the Green Mountain Lake Invitational. That’s how the Valley Central sophomore has been racing all season.
In fact, she’s made it a point to be a front-runner this season. The result has been an undefeated streak lasting all of her seven races, including three dual meets. Cavalluzzo won at Green Mountain Lake Invitational in 19:10.04 Saturday at Lakeside Park, the site of this year’s state championships.
While many runners were cautioned against an ambitious first mile, because of the bullying quarter-mile hill followed, Cavalluzzo attacked it.
“I don’t really think about the pain,” the sophomore said.
Pain is simply a conduit to speed. Getting off the starting line faster is the express track. Cavalluzzo learned that lesson last year at the state championships when the pack swallowed her at the start and the tiny freshman couldn’t move up. She finished a disappointing 22nd.
She rebounded the following week though, placing 19th at the state federation championships at Bowdoin Park.
“She’s very hard on herself when she doesn’t think she performs well,” Valley Central coach Ron Hebbard said. “But that’s one of the biggest changes in her. This year I’ve seen more aggressiveness from her than ever.”
That has turned into four straight invitational victories. She first won the Washingtonville Wizard Invitational, taking the 3-mile course in 18:42.87. Then Cavalluzzo dominated her race at the Suffern Invitational, covering the 3-mile course at Bear Mountain in 18:30.32. Two weeks ago she ran a solo effort again at the Red Raider Run’s 5K course in 19:19 before she ran another lonesome front-running effort at Lakeside Park.
“It definitely helps with my confidence,” Cavalluzzo said. “I’ve been feeling really good. I just want to keep it going.”
And since Valley Central isn’t competing for the next two weeks, Cavalluzzo gets to take her unbeaten streak into championship season. Hebbard did express some regret about not being able to race his team at the Manhattan Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park Oct. 9. But the break allows him to tinker with training and give Cavalluzzo some rest before the Orange County championships in Oct. 19.
The biggest goal is to get one step further than last year. Cavalluzzo ended her season after the federation meet last year. This season however, she’ll compete at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional in hopes of qualifying for the Foot Locker Nationals Dec. 11 in San Diego, Calif. If not this year, then maybe the next.
“We want to go one step further,” Hebbard said. “That’s what we try to do each year. Anyone can get into those qualifiers. We want to go there and race well or we wouldn’t even go. If we don’t make it, then there’s another step for next year.
“Either way, 7-0 to start the season. I think we’re looking pretty good right now.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Christopher Hunt