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Marian’s Capparell driven to succeed

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Published June 20. 2018 01:27PM

Tina Capparell waits for no one.

She stops for nothing.

The Marian senior operates at a different level — and speed — than most of her peers.

Always looking for her next challenge, seeking competition, Capparell constantly searches for ways to get better.

It’s what drives her.

But after a remarkable fall that saw Capparell complete the trifecta — winning league, district and state cross-country titles — her attention quickly shifted to what lied ahead.

A break.

The focus wasn’t going to be on running for once. No, instead it was going to be on rest. And getting healthy.

Capparell’s success during the cross-country season came while she was competing with a stress fracture in her right tibia, one that forced her to pump the brakes on running, something that had become second nature.

“It wasn’t the first time I couldn’t run because of an injury,” said Capparell, who noted she began to feel pain in her leg around the league meet. “I couldn’t believe it at first. But I used all that time off; I kept training. My drive just kept getting higher.”

In a boot for a month-and-a-half after the cross-country season, Capparell regrouped and refocused, picking up right where she left off in the winter during the indoor track and field season.

“Coming out for the indoor (track) season, I made it to states for the first time ever for indoors,” Capparell said. “In the mile, I got sixth. And coming off that just really propelled me into the season.

“Just my drive, and my confidence, got higher this year.”

She didn’t miss a beat in the spring, medaling twice at states with a silver medal in the Class 2A 1600 and an eighth-place result in the 800.

That haul came on the heels of dominant Schuylkill League and District 11 performances, which saw Capparell, who is headed to the University of Delaware in the fall, win the 1600 and 800 at both events.

Capparell moved on from an injury that could have derailed her final spring at Marian, enjoying the most decorated track and field season of her career, one that now includes the honor of being named the Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

A force throughout her career, the time away gave Capparell a chance to regroup and refocus heading into the spring.

“What I think set her apart this year from past years, was that she understood what her goals were, where she wanted to go, and how to get there,” said Marian head coach Justin Huegel. “And she kind of took an it’s going to be a ‘Me vs. Me’ mentality on everything, where she understood the only person who was going to get in her way was herself.

“And then also on top of that, understanding that she needed to go out there each and every race, and understand that there would be times where … it would be unstoppable, but she still needed to compete against the clock, and her best version of herself.”

Capparell ran to a sixth-place finish in the Class 2A 1600 a year ago with a time of 5:05.94 for her first state medal. She posted a blistering time of 5:01.22 to place second this season.

“She kind of took her game to another level,” Huegel said of Capparell’s improvement. “She always had a phenomenal work ethic. But once she aligned those goals this year, she pretty much just put all of her energy that she could into making sure that not only what she did on the track translated to that, but also what she did off the track.

“I think the biggest separator for her were the things she did when people weren’t watching. When she was in the weight room doing core exercises with a boot on after cross-country season, as well as running indoor races when she was the only competitor on our indoor team that competed in a meet this year. All those things when people weren’t watching really translated to the spring season, and really pushed her into, I don’t want to say fulfilled potential, because she still has a long way to go; she’s always going to continue to have the drive and want to get better.”

As for the last chapter in her high school career, Capparell was sure to savor another extraordinary season, one that seemed anything but certain just a few months earlier.

“Before I left the track (at Shippensburg), I took a breath, looked around before I stepped off, and took it all in one last time,” Capparell said of the state meet. “I said goodbye to it, and took off my Marian jersey for the last time.

“It was a sad moment, but it’s been a great four years and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.”

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