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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019 1 month ago

Riverview junior runner changes focus, sees big improvement

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Prose and Kohn: Ryan Kohn.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Running can come down to sheer will power.

Just ask Riverview High junior track and field athlete Lucas Caragiulo.

Caragiulo, who competes for the Rams but attends Pine View School, won the 800-meter race April 13 at the district championship (1:58.79) at Manatee High. He crossed the finish line ahead of Lakewood Ranch High star senior Jonathan Reed, who finished sixth in the state last season — no small feat. Caragiulo’s time was about. nine seconds faster than his best 800 time of last season, a result that has sprung from focusing more on that event and less on the mile (1,600 meters) he said.

Focus is the keyword there.

Lucas Caragiulo won the 800-meter race at the district championship.

Caragiulo said running the mile takes more thought in terms of pacing. The best mile runners know exactly when to kick into their top gear. Caragiulo was a good mile runner — he finished fourth at the Sarasota County Championship last year — but when his coach, Jay Roper, asked him if he wanted to concentrate on the 800, he jumped at the chance.

Why? Well, for one thing, it’s less running, Caragiulo said, laughing. I cannot blame anyone for picking a path that makes then run less, even athletes. But the other reason is logistical. The 800 is more or less a dead sprint. If you are fast and you have the stamina to maintain that speed for two laps, you can have success.

“It makes it easier mentally,” Caragiulo said. “You just worry about running.”

With Caragiulo’s background in the mile, the stamina part was no issue. Over time, Caragiulo’s speed has come, too. It turns out, all it took was him taking that chance.

“He is starting to believe in himself more than he has,” Roper said. “That always comes with success. Once he started seeing that success, he started to buy in, and that created more hunger. He is taking running more seriously.

“He can be something special next year. He can contend for the state championship.”

Next year is one thing, but Caragiulo isn’t done with 2019 yet. The Riverview school record in the 800 is 1:55.82, set by Zachary Woods in 2007. Caraguilo’s personal best time, set at the IMG Academy Invitational on March 16, is 1:57.15. At Riverview’s 4A Region 2 Championship meet April 27 at George Jenkins High, where Caragiulo is the top qualifier, his goal is to break that record, he said.

After that? Caragiulo will likely qualify for the state championship meet, school record holder or not. He said he is not worried about collecting a medal this year, even though his best time places him in the top-10 for the season. He just wants to keep getting better. That is why, after having to miss a Friday practice April 19, he took time out of his Saturday the next day and ran a special session with Roper. Missing practices leads to a drop in performance, Caragiulo said, even just a couple, and he cannot have that this time of year.

Expect Caragiulo to take care of business at regionals and head to states, and next year, look for him to make an even bigger wave. Right now, he would be the second-fastest returnee in the 800.

His present is bright, and his future even brighter. All it took was less thinking, and more sprinting.

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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