Trying to win any state championship is difficult enough, so trying to win back-to-back titles is mathematically much harder. With only six athletes qualifying for state at the regional outdoor track & field meet where the Cardinals finished in third place, the odds were not in Sacred Heart's favor. However, Coach Greg Caro secretly loved his team's odds because the state meet is all about scoring quality points with athletes, and the Cardinals' six athletes are the best of the best in their respective events.
With six qualifiers in nine scoring opportunities, the athletes received the revised and final time schedule of events with some changes due to inclement weather. This included moving all but the javelin and discus to the indoor facility. The day would test the hearts and physical toughness of the Cardinals' distance athletes because the state made the executive decision to combine all three classes together, which meant the 1600 meters and the 3200 meters would have 27 runners in those races instead of the normal nine per class.
The Cardinals began the meet with the high jump and the 4 × 800-meter relay. Sara Spinosa '20 was right at home inside the field house, where she has found success in the last two indoor seasons. This day was much of the same for her as she cleared her opening heights of 4'6", 4'8", and 4'10" on her first attempts. She was jumping with 27 jumpers from the three classes, so time between her jumps was longer than normal.
The extra time gave Caro the opportunity to run outside and say a few words to the relay team of Emily Leblanc '21, Olivia Boyd '22, Olivia McGoey '21, and Mary Nusloch '19 before they entered the track to showcase their talents in the newest event added to the outdoor meet, the 4 × 800-meter relay. The Cardinals were ranked number one, and they did not disappoint as these four runners captured first place overall and the first points of the meet for their team. They earned ten points and established a new meet record of 9:51.03. They ascended to the top of the podium as state champions.
Caro hustled back to the high jump in time to watch Spinosa clear 5'0" on her second attempt, which another jumper had also done. By this time,there were only three jumpers left, and the team was guaranteed at least second place. After Spinosa's three nice non-clearing attempts at the next height, she tied for state runner-up and earned seven points for her team.
After a little more than 35 minutes of rest, Mary Nusloch '19 and Olivia McGoey '21 were back in the holding section with runners from classes 3A, 4A, and 5A in the 1600-meter race. The race began, and it quickly became clear that Nusloch was in charge of the line of runners, like the lead engine pulling 26 others through the first lap. She was not going to allow anyone to dictate her pace. McGoey got stuck in a bit in the traffic at first, but she made an aggressive move to the outside after the second lap that allowed her to get back into the race. As she moved through the crowd, she passed three runners from the Cardinals' division. Nusloch planned accordingly, and it was clear to all that she was the best of the best on this day, finishing in a season best of 5:11.39. McGoey's last 400-meter race would test her just as it had the year before, but this time, it was another competitor swapping positions back and forth for third place during the final 150 meters. McGoey's strength and foot speed prevailed, and she crossed the line in a season best time of 5:29.31 for third place and the bronze medal. The Cardinals later found out that the young lady running stride for stride with McGoey is the granddaughter of a Sacred Heart alumna, and she told the Cardinals that she was so happy to run against a team that she idolizes. This runner hung out with the Cardinals for the remainder of the meet and later earned a spot on the podium next to Nusloch in the 3200 meters. Even in competition, you can and should have mutual respect and admiration for each other, as she showed all of the Cardinals.
The Cardinals then went to support Mykhala Coleman '21 in the shot put and her journey to throwing a new personal best of 38'2". She has been steadily improving her distance all year, and it came together nicely on this day. She competed against another local thrower all year, and they have pushed each other every meet. Coleman's toss inspired her competitor, and on her last throw, she surpassed Coleman's mark by just four inches. Coleman had a new personal best and a state runner-up title and earned eight more points for the team.
Just minutes later, the Cardinals ran to catch the beginning of the 800 meters, where Mary Nusloch '19 and Olivia Boyd '22 were ranked first and second. They did not disappoint the crowd and their teammates. They took to the front from the gun, and neither of them ever looked back, coming through the first lap in 1:07 and 1:08. They continued to separate from the rest and finished as they had started, capturing first and second with times of 2:20.56 and 2:25.45. They were crowned state champion and state runner-up, and 18 more points were added to give the Cardinals a team total of 59 with two scoring opportunities left. They worked the numbers and figured that no team could catch them, but they still had work to do.
With about one hour to rest, Mary Nusloch '19 and Mykhala Coleman '21 competed simultaneously, Nusloch in the 3200 meters and Coleman in the discus. Twenty-seven runners started the race, and Nusloch took the lead early, holding that lead over all the runners for seven-and-a-half of the eight laps until one runner from 5A made a huge move over the last 400 meters. The runner passed six other runners, including Nusloch. However, she was not the Cardinals' competition, so that was perfectly fine. Before the race started, Caro made sure to let Nusloch know how proud he was of her over the last seven years and to go and have fun on this last race and enjoy it as much as possible. She finished in 11:36.70, only two seconds per lap slower than her personal record. Nusloch earned the individual state champion for the last time and another 10 points for her team.
As this was happening, the Cardinals continued to watch and cheer for Coleman as she threw the discus. Her first throw was a foul, but she was able to get a decent mark on her second throw. After a few more throws, she was able to get a mark of 96'5" to capture third place overall, only three feet from first place. She is more determined than ever to work on perfecting her spin technique so that she can throw the distance she throws at practice. She earned six more points, and the Cardinals' total was 75 points for the team.
The Cardinals stormed the infield about 30 minutes later as the announcement they had been waiting for was made, and the Academy of the Sacred Heart received their state championship trophy for the second year in a row! Mary Nusloch '19 was named the Overall Outstanding Performer in Class 3A, a fitting end to an amazing career.