These 4 club soccer players are breaking Meads Mill track and field … – Hometown Life

Sure, the distance relay team for the Meads Mill Middle School girls track and field program is blazing fast. 
But the foursome also has one other thing in common: There’s a good chance at least one of them is going to leave a meet or practice before it finishes. 
That’s not to say they’re each a track truant. Simply put, they’re two-sport athletes this spring. 
Not only has their time in the 2-mile relay qualified them for the Mid-Michigan Megastar Meet, essentially a state championship for middle schoolers, on May 31, but they’re all standout travel soccer players as well. 
So when you see either Colette Lozo, Natalia Hurd, Julia Crowe or Alexandra Scappaticci crossing the finish line and then quickly jumping into a car, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to hang around to watch their teammates compete in the sprints or the long jump. It actually means they’re en route to a soccer match about a town or two over. 
“They’re really fun to watch as a team, collaborating with each other (about dual-sport schedules) and working hard in practice together, and it’s interesting to watch them compete,” said coach Evan Paputa before a meet Friday night at Tom Holzer Ford Field in Northville. “And each kid has their own specialty they compete in, too. Them also playing soccer hasn’t been a problem at all. They’ve kind of earned a little bit of leeway. And it’s not like they’re skipping a workout. They’re going to get a workout at soccer practice or during a soccer game.”
Actually, they’re usually getting more than just one workout. 
Take Scappaticci, for example. It’s not uncommon for the sixth-grader to run the 2-mile, catch a breather, run the 1-mile and, if there’s time before leaving for soccer, compete in the 2-mile relay with her teammates. 
On Friday night, she won the 3,200-meter run in 12 minutes, 10.65 seconds, just 3 seconds off from her personal best, and then was the runner-up in the 1,600 with a time of 6 minutes, 6.65 seconds. And then she left the meet to go and play in a soccer match for the Michigan Hawks. 
That back-of-the-envelope calculation comes out to her sprinting 3 miles competitively and then heading over to the soccer pitch to sprint for another 2 hours. 
It’s not uncommon to see kids tumble at the finish line of distance races because it’s so daunting to put their bodies through so much pain. And here’s Scappaticci heading out afterward to put a few more miles on her legs at soccer. 
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“When I first met Alex, the thing that stood out about her is that she volunteered to run the 2-mile,” said Paputa, who expects Scappaticci to one day break Meads Mill’s record in the event, which is 11 minutes, 59 seconds. “No one has ever done that for me before. It’s the toughest event, bar none, because you’re running eight laps around the track. When you see someone say that, it makes you think they’re somebody of high character. And then you watch her run, and she just takes off and goes. It’s just everybody else chasing her.” 
That’s not to say she’s outworking her teammates on the relay. 
They’re just as talented in their own events, and they’re just as busy on the soccer pitch, too. 
On Friday, not only did Lozo, who plays for Michigan Rush Soccer, win the 1,600 with a time of 5 minutes, 37.76 seconds, but she also broke the school record by almost 4 seconds. And that record has stood since 2014. 
Crowe, who’s part of Plymouth Reign Soccer Club, placed second in the 400 meters (1:07.61). 
And with Scappaticci leaving early for a soccer match, sixth-grader Audrey Beers filled in on the relay and helped Lozo, Hurd and Crowe win the 3,200 with a time of 11 minutes, 2.47 seconds, which is Meads Mill’s fastest time in the event yet this season. 
“We have a bond because we all play soccer, so I think that helped us become closer friends,” said Lozo, an eighth-grader. “We can kind of bond over that. We all have double practices some nights, and that can be hard to balance at times. But we’re able to talk to each other about how to balance things and how we’re feeling about both sports.” 
They’ll have plenty to talk about when they make the trip to Shepherd for the Megastar Meet later this month. 
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Paputa has signed up for the largest bus he’s ever asked for because so many Meads Mill athletes have earned the opportunity to compete at the state level. 
That distance relay team will be there. But Hurt and Lozo will also compete in the 800 meters, Lozo will try her hand in the 1,600 and Scappaticci and Sophia Jiang will each run the 3,200. 
And that’s just Paputa’s distance crew. 
The secret to their success? They’re just always in great shape year-round because of soccer. 
“Obviously, soccer involves a lot of endurance, so we already have a lot of that built up,” said Hurd, another eighth-grader who plays for the Michigan Jaguars. “When I started running cross country and track in the sixth grade, I had to work for it, but it started to come easy to me because I was already running a lot. I just fell in love when I started running competitively. And I’m really serious about soccer, but running has become really fun, for sure.” 
It’s a challenge balancing full-time soccer and track schedules. Especially for middle schoolers. But this foursome is doing it at an elite level, and that bodes well for Northville when they get into high school, whether they chose to play soccer or run for the cross-country and track teams.
Brandon Folsom covers high school sports in metro Detroit for Hometown Life. Follow him on Twitter @folsombrandonj.


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