Charter’s Kieran Tuntivate races through the final stretch of the Joe O’Neill Invitational Cross Country meet at Bellevue State Park on Friday afternoon, October 17, 2014. Tuntivate won with a time of 4:59.0.
PENNY HILL – After reigning over the state last year, the Pandas have added the state’s best runner.
In her Delaware high school debut, Lydia Olivere won the state’s largest cross country meet, the Joe O’Neill Invitational, in the second fastest time ever run by a Delaware ninth grader.
For two miles, it was a two-woman race with Archmere’s Colleen Carney. By the third mile at Bellevue State Park, Olivere’s smooth mechanics put her 30 seconds ahead. Her 18:06.5 made her the seventh fastest runner in Delaware history. Among ninth-graders, only Haley Pierce of Tatnall (17:45 in 2008) has gone faster over 5,000 meters.
“I was really excited for it all week, because I’d been running out-of-state invitations,” said Olivere, who opened with a series of top-five performances in major invitationals, including the sixth-best Delaware time ever at the Manhattan Invitational.
“It made me a little more nervous because you know the names more in-state. It was fun to see what I could do here against them after seeing them against my sisters,” said Olivere.
She has followed the sport since second grade, watching her all-state sisters, Lindsey, now a senior at Duke, whose 17:23 is the third best in state history, and Maddie, a Padua sophomore recovering from a stress fracture.
“It’s great to see a freshman as a leader this year. It takes a lot and I commend her for it,” said fourth-place Emily Paolucci, last year’s Division One champion.
Even though, on Padua’s deep roster, close friends compete weekly for varsity positions, “We don’t get competitive in a bad way. We all have good weeks and bad weeks,” said Paolucci.
“If anything it helps us. It gives us motivation. We push each other in practice,” said Erin Spadaccini (7th), a member of another championship team. Spadaccini’s three-girl team earned national recognition in the National History Day competition for a research project, under history teacher Barbara Markham, into Israel’s trial of Adolph Eichmann.
The Pandas swept the state last year in cross country, indoor and spring track, but “We don’t really stop during the summer,” said Reagan Robertson, 30 seconds faster than last year in 16th place, with frequent captain’s practices and summer camp together.
Delaware Military (Megan Glanz 17th, Nicole Harris 19th and Kylie Jones 20th) finished a best-ever second. ever. Kieran Hanrahan (5th) led third-place Tatnall. Rebekah Mills (3rd) and Christine Marks (9th) led fourth-place Cesar Rodney.
Katie Macturk of Concord (6th), Ashton Dunkley of Middletown (8th, Rachel Beston of Newark (11th) and Piper Freed of Appoquinimink (14th) paced Blue Hen Conference runners.
Raley Abramczyk (10th) was Tower Hill’s top finisher since 2004. Courtney Wallace (12th) led seventh-place Ursuline. Emma Menzer, an eighth grader from Newark Charter, finished 15th.
Last year’s leaders lagged. Louisa Belk of St. Andrew’s, undefeated last year, finished 13th, continuing a recovery from tendinitis, caused by her 1½-inch growth last year, that idled her this summer. Caroline Foley, second last year, had to drop out after a mile with a muscle strain. Analise Kaminski of St. Mark’s, also healing after finishing third last year, was 36th.