GREENSBORO -- Most athletes get tired after they compete. Andie Cozzarelli just gets better.
Cozzarelli, an Apex High sophomore, played midfielder in the Cougars' 3-2 loss in the NCHSAA 4-A Soccer Tournament's Eastern Regional semifinal on Friday night. Saturday morning she was in Greensboro for her other sport -- track.
Cozzarelli, 15, ran three races in a 10-hour stretch at the NCHSAA Track and Field Championships at NC A&T University. By the end of her grueling day, Cozzarelli went home as state runner-up in the 1,600-meter run, champion in the 3,200-meter run and as a member of the Cougars' fifth-place 3,200 relay team.
In her final race, which did not start until after 9 p.m., Cozzarelli battled reigning champion Brittany Johnson of Green Hope High. With about 300 meters to go, the pair left the field behind with blistering kicks.
Cozzarelli prevailed in a personal-best time of 11:01.35 with Johnson a few steps back at 11:03.97.
In the 1,600, Athens Drive High junior Callan Fike took control early and was never threatened in a time of 5:06.15. Again, Cozzarelli (5:10.69) outkicked Johnson (5:11.70) for second place and another personal record.
Cozzarelli helped the Cougars to a third-place team finish with 37 points. Of other area teams, Athens was fourth with 27 points, Green Hope was eighth with 20 points and Cary tied for 10th with 18 points.
"I had no idea I was running that fast," a jubilant Cozzarelli said after her 3,200 win, a personal-best by 10 seconds. "I was so amazed when I crossed the line and it was 11:01, and I'm just so excited because I wanted to win."
After two seasons as state 4-A cross country runner-up, and two fourth-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 at the 2005 state meet, Cozzarelli said she was hungry for a state title.
Cozzarelli, who split her season between soccer and running, looked sharper each time she raced.
Apex track coach Roy Cooper said he supports Cozzarelli's decision to compete in both sports.
"It's a unique situation," he said. "She loves them both, and I don't want make her chose between the two because high school's supposed to be about doing the things you enjoy."
Cozzarelli may enjoy soccer -- she scored two goals for the Cougars as an occasional starter -- but as the state's top-ranked 3,200 runner it's clear where her best talents lie.
Cooper said it's difficult for two-sport athletes to have "multiple peaks." Early in the season he advised Cozzarelli to focus on the May 20 state meet.
"Back in March, I told her, 'Our goal is May 20.' She bought into it," he said.
Always a strong kicker, Cooper said Cozzarelli has now figured out how to use her kick to win.
"The kick's always been there," he said. "She's staying in touch now. She's got a lot of confidence."
Outkicking Johnson in the 1,600 gave Cozzarelli a boost going into the 3,200, Cooper said.
"I think that gave her the confidence," he said. "It was a gutty race."
Cozzarelli gave Johnson credit for her fast 3,200 time.
"Brittany pushed me the whole way," she said. "She did amazing. If she wasn't there, I wouldn't have been able to kick so well. I didn't feel I had it in me, but I did I guess."
Johnson also joined Christine Truesdale and Felicity and Megan Brower in helping the Falcons to a strong third-place finish in the 3,200 relay in a school-record time of 9:37.02.
Johnson finished the day taking home two bronze medals and a silver in her final 4-A meet.
Johnson, 18, rushed back to school after the meet for her prom. She only caught the last 30 minutes. "I went there and just said 'Hi' to people," she said.
Johnson, who plans to run for Furman, said she was not disappointed with her performances Saturday.
"I got podiums in all my races," she said. "There's nothing to be disappointed about there."
Johnson has not decided if she will compete in next month's Nike Outdoor Nationals back at A&T.
One person who will be competing at Nike is Cary senior Norjai Palma, who was second in both the shot put (43-feet, 3 inches) and discus throw (130-6), losing both to national leader, Kamorean Hayes of Charlotte Harding University.
"I knew I definitely had the potential to throw really big throws," Palma said. "Just for some reason I wasn't here today. I'm still motivated to throw well at Nike. I still have another opportunity."
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