In the span of four races over a few weeks, Sarah Naticchia went from a six-minute miler finishing in the middle of the pack in a novice race to one of the fastest in the state.
This is another one of those crazy stories that makes track such a special and unique sport.
Naticchia, a Haddonfield sophomore who didn’t compete in track last year, ran the first 1,600 of her life at the Spike Shoe Holiday Festival at the Armory in mid-December, and she ran admirably, clocking 6:02.67 in the novice race, a fine time for any first-time miler.
Then it was off to the Ocean Breeze track in Staten Island a few weeks later for the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games, where she again ran a novice-class 1,600, but this time she ran away from the field in 5:42, a 20-second PR in her second career race.
Naticchia was entered in the 1,600 at sectionals, and all she did was run 5:16.49 — a 26-second PR – and out-race the field to earn the win.
Who’s even heard of a 26-second PR in a 1,600? That’s not even possible!
But yep, in her third lifetime 1,600 she won a sectional title. Sophomore teammates Payton Weiner and Olivia Stoner also medaled in the race, giving Haddonfield 16 points in the event on the way to 112 in their South Jersey Group 2 title.
Then it was off to states, where Naticchia PR’d again, this time running 5:13.84 and placing fourth, just six seconds behind winner Eliana Swell of Rumson-Fair Haven.
This is where the story gets even better.
Naticchia was the No. 18 seed in the 1,600 at the Meet of Champions, which would have gotten her in the fast heat and possibly set her up for yet another PR in this remarkable first year of track.
But Naticchia had other ideas. She and three of her teammates — Weiner and Allison and Lindsay Coleflesh, all sophomores — elected to run the 3,200-meter relay, with Naticchia and Lindsay Colflesh opting to focus on the relay and skip their individual events. Colflesh had qualified for M-of-C in the 800 by placing second at states.
Haddonfield wound up placing sixth in 9:42.17, finishing behind only one South Jersey school – Kingsway, who ran 9:40.30 for fifth.
Naticchia wound up as the second-fastest sophomore in New Jersey this year, behind only Emma McGill of Voorhees, who ran 5:03.36 for third at the Meet of Champions.
Here’s a wild guess: Naticchia won’t be running any more novice races!