CRANBERRY TWP — There was no easing into varsity competition for Tara Lucot.
The Cranberry Township resident recently wrapped up her freshman year at Vincentian Academy after playing a major role on the school’s cross country and track teams.
Last fall, she led the Royals to a WPIAL Class A girls cross country team title by placing fourth overall, then was ninth in the state to help Vincentian take third place.
This spring, she laid a solid foundation on the track, managing times of two minutes, 23.19 seconds in the 800-meter run and 5:21.67 in the 1,600.
She also ran the first leg of the team’s 4x800 relay squad.
“We put a lot on her shoulders to lead the (cross country) team and she responded,” said Vincentian cross country and track coach Chris Rotelli. “She was phenomenal last fall and did everything asked of her.”
“I really didn’t know what to expect coming in as a freshman,” said Lucot, who has several 5K races lined up for herself this summer.
“The cross country season gave me a lot of confidence for track. A lot of cross country runners compete in the distance events, so I knew who I’d be going up against.”
Aside from the physical talent Lucot possesses, Rotelli is impressed with her will to win.
“She’s a competitor and doesn’t like to lose,” he said. “Race day lights her up. That’s where she is at home.”
Lucot also plays basketball and was a member of the Royals’ junior varsity team last winter. She followed in the footsteps of her older brother, Nick, when she picked up running in the fourth grade while at St. Alexis Elementary School in Wexford.
It didn’t take long for Lucot to realize the sport was for her.
“Running gives me time to think,” she said. “I really enjoy it, but it helps when you have people to run with. I have great teammates. We’re like a family and are all motivated. A lot of us run together at North Park.”
Lucot admitted her cross country season was better than that on the track. She missed out on earning a medal (top eight) at the WPIAL Class AA Track and Field Championships last month by placing ninth in the 1,600 and tenth in the 800.
But her talent and determination combine to give Lucot a high ceiling moving forward in both sports.
“As she gets older and stronger, she will be one of the best runners in the area,” Rotelli said.