CLIFTON PARK — For a runnner who didn’t come close to her desired time, Hannah Reale sure smiled an awful lot after competing in the 1,500-meter race at Friday’s Shenendehowa Invitational.
There’s good reason.
“I feel great,” the multi-state champion from Shenendehowa said as the gun for another race sounded. “I’m in great shape. Training is going better than it did in the past, and I’m progressively getting faster.”
The senior easily won the 1,500 at her school’s home meet for the fourth year in a row, adding to her extensive resume of titles. Over the winter, though, she won none. She never even stepped on a track due to an injury.
“It’s something that had been lingering,” Shenendehowa girls’ track and field coach Rob Cloutier said. “She had muscle weakness in her left glute [buttock]. She needed time off from running in order to address that.
“She wasn’t firing, and that was asking her calf to overwork. Her Achilles was starting to bother her, too.”
So the Wisconsin-bound running star got to work away from the track in a regimen that included exercises she had never known and plenty of swimming. She did a lot of that work at Capital Area Physical Therapy and Wellness in Malta, where last summer she interned.
“It was about not risking a real issue,” the 17-year-old Reale said of taking the winter season off. “Resting up. Work on strengthening. I know in the long run that decision will pay off.”
Reale still missed running.
“Not doing indoor, it was weird,” said Reale, who, as a junior, helped the Plainsmen win an indoor state title in the 3,200 relay. “I’d go watch races and root for my teammates. I kept thinking, “When I come back I’ll be a lot stronger,’ and that helped get me through it.”
Cloutier eased Reale into the outdoor season, and said she is just now finding her old stride, the one that made her a state outdoor 800 champ the last two seasons.
“It was good to get it cleared up,” Cloutier said. “She’s healthy and ready to rock. She’s in a good place right now.”
Last Saturday Reale helped Shenendehowa’s distance medley relay team win at the Colonie Relays. Earlier in the season she was best in the 1,500 at the Niskayuna Warriors Classic.
She was in a familiar spot Friday after taking the 1,500 in 4:39.48. Madison Relyea of Mayfield was second (4:54.23). The wind blew hard throughout the race.
“She went 4:26 last year on a perfect day,” Cloutier said. “That was the U.S. No. 1 [time].”
“The times will come down,” Reale said. “I have to be patient.”
Reale will be competing next week at the Suburban Council Championships and at Schenectady’s Eddy Meet, with the Section II Group I Championships and the state meet qualifier and the state meet itself to follow.
“The big races are coming up and I’m excited about that,” said the high honors student. “It’s been hard because I’ve been running by myself. I’m 10 times better when I have competition near me.”
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports