Athlete of the Week: Cara Duffy

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Cara Duffy is fresh off capturing multiple victories at the conference championship, held on Jan. 29 at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington.
(Photo by Island Trees School District)

Cara Duffy loves to outrun the boys. It happens quite often, too.

Each day, Duffy dedicates her free time to running, even when her body tells her it’s time to stop. She runs about seven miles a day, fighting through the pain to bring home trophies for the Island Trees High School track and field and cross country teams.

The junior is—to say the least—obsessed with running. It’s her life. It’s what she excels at. Most of all, running is what will put her in the history books.

“It really has a lot to do with practice,” Duffy said. “You really have to put your all in or else you’re not going to demonstrate it properly in your race. Whenever you go to practice, you have to make sure you’re perfect and excelling. Once you get used to the pain in practice, the pain in the race is nothing.”

The pain is paying off in great ways. Duffy captured multiple conference championship trophies on Jan. 29, at Saint Anthony’s High School in Melville. In the 1,000-meter contest, she clocked in at three minutes, 18.06 seconds, capturing the victory by more than five seconds over fellow Bulldog runner Claudia Rodriguez. She was also a key member of the Bulldog’s 4×400 relay team, taking home that victory, leading the school to become the conference champions.

“It really does mean so much, especially in the 1,000-meter,” Duffy said. “It’s a test to your strength and how much pain you can handle. To be able to accomplish that is just an eye-opener of how much better I can do moving forward. To be able to run another race, push through even though you’re tired from the first race and to win that is an even better feeling, especially when it’s with a team.”

Duffy was named to the Bulldog’s track and field varsity team in the seventh grade. While that might seem premature, it wasn’t a surprise given her family’s rich history at Island Trees.

The Duffy family is as competitive as it gets. Older siblings Michelle and John are in the Island Trees Hall of Fame for their running prowess. The two still hold records to this day. However, the younger Duffy is ready to put her name in the record book, even if it means erasing her sister’s name from it.

“I’m trying to go after her track record,” she said, joking that she’s already beat Michelle’s 4k and 5k records. “I definitely get competitive with her, and we like to rub it in each other’s faces.”

While a hip injury sidelined Duffy last year, she’s bounced back to become a champion, a feat that track and field head coach Joseph Manna is truly proud of.

“Cara has been the constant during our success over the last few seasons,” Manna said. “In any sport, it’s not just the player, it’s the family sacrifice. The driving to meets, clinics and working with the kids when they’re young. This is what helps develop them before they ever reach high school age.”

The future, Duffy believes, is bright. She’s heading on a college tour down the east coast in February. From there, she will determine where she will compete at the NCAA level in cross country. Currently, she has her eyes on Coastal Carolina and Colorado State University, but that can change.

No matter where she decides to go, she wants to outrun the boys.

“If I’m running in a group, I like to put myself with the boys,” she said. “They’re pushing me and pushing me the entire time. There are times when I’ve definitely out-run them before.”

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