In her second year as a varsity runner, Colleen Carney has leaped into the top tier of Delaware runners.
Taking instant command Saturday, the Archmere junior had the fastest time among the 38 schools at the Salesianum Invitational, winning the small-schools section by 20 seconds on a day when the heat was even more daunting than the hills of Brandywine Creek State Park.
Analeise Kaminski of St. Mark’s won the large-schools division, with Smyrna’s Tori Vickers second.
Carney showed talent in volleyball and soccer in her youth, but after making Archmere’s vaunted volleyball team last year, “I decided that running was my passion,” she said.
Carney, who won Saturday with a time of 20:20.99, became a second team All-State runner, with the seventh-best time among all underclassmen at the state meet.
This year, Carney has accelerated. Two weeks ago, she was second among small-school runners in Philadelphia’s Briarwood Invitational. Last week, she was fifth in the talent-laden private school division of the Maymont Invitational in Richmond, Va.
She took control immediately Saturday.
“I always try to kick it in the end and try to have a good start,” Carney said.
Carney is plotting her season one week at a time.
“I’m just trying to stay injury free, stay healthy, hydrate well before my races, train well, take a break,” she said.
Ashlynne Foley and Adrienne Fraczkowski finished second and third, leading Delaware Military Academy, coached by Archmere history teacher Noel Breger, to the small-schools championship.
“I pushed all negative thoughts out of my mind. I imagined it was a nice cool fall day,” said St. Mark’s Kaminski, a sophomore who plays on a soccer travel team on days she isn’t running for the Spartans. She had the fastest time of all runners at the White Clay Invitational three weeks ago.
“During summer training, I surged at the top of the hill, to get used to the pain,” said Kaminski, whose brother Zach was Division I boys champion in 2009. “Today it didn’t hurt so bad.”
Courtney Wallace of Wilmington Friends, Sanford’s Sofia Alfieri and Emily Freilich of Friends also reached the top 10 in the small-schools race, as did Ashton Dunkley and Gabby Brown of Middletown and Concord freshman Grace Slate in the large-schools division.