NORWICH – She burst onto the Eastern Connecticut Conference running scene so quickly and impressively in September 2019 … and then went unheard for a while.
You hardly remember how Eliana Duclos of Norwich Free Academy beat Jordan Malloy of Bacon Academy, the eventual 2019 ECC cross country champion, in her first race two crashes ago. After a few more solid finishes, she couldn’t finish a race against East Lyme due to muscle tightness and didn’t compete again in the cross-country playoffs or on the indoor track.
The pandemic canceled the 2020 outdoor track. Duclos’ injuries were once again awakened in an abridged cross-country campaign in 2020.
Where has Eliana Duclos gone?
“Eliana got lucky with her quads,” said NFA cross country and track coach Kara Kochanski-Vendola. “She was frustrated that she couldn’t compete. She loves it. She wanted to be there but couldn’t.”
Finally this spring, Duclos’ legs looked good. She won 1,600 races early before feeling tension mid-season.
But she peaked for ECC Division I championship competition, realizing the potential she showed almost 20 months before in the first 19 cross-country competitions. Duclos was named Runner of the Meet after easily won the 1600 and 3200 events, helping the Wildcats to finish second.
“I feel on top of the world that I have finally been able to show the potential of my so-called running career,” said Duclos. “It was difficult for a long time. All I wanted to do was run and I couldn’t. Not being there is more difficult for me than the grueling miles I have traveled to train. lots of support from my coaches and teammates during my tough times. “
Duclos will join his NFA teammates and the Wildcat Boys’ team at the LL Class Status Meeting today (10 a.m.) at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.
Duclos was not challenged in the ECC, winning by 20 seconds in the 1,600 (5:23) and by 57 seconds in the 3,200 (11: 33.33). She will need to pick up the pace to qualify for the LL class, but winning her first two ECC Championship medals was special for the second.
“I’m still halfway through my high school career,” said Duclos. “I started quickly, but I have a long way to go.”
Other NFA girls hoping to place include sprinter-jumper Jasmyn Bransford (100, 200, long jump), Kayla Park (400), Makayla Kelley (800) and Park 4×800 relay, Kelley, Catherine Shannon and Sophie Jones.
The top male prospects are Jordan Ribeiro, No. 1 in shot put, and a contender in discus, pole vault Max Davidson and high jumper Max Pierre Louis, No. 1 at 6-4.
Duclos is thrilled to be back in the game. She had big plans even before NFA. She won the Greeneville Mile Women’s Race at the age of 12 and 13, breaking six minutes, and won the All Saints Invitational Middle School race as 8th at St. Patrick’s Catholic School.
“The Greeneville Mile is where it all started,” said Duclos with a smile. “Yeah, I’ve had my ups and downs. But I was determined to come back. I love running too much.”
So much, Duclos went to the winner’s table prematurely to get her medals in the CCEs.
“It was nice to see how happy Eliana was after winning the 1600,” said Kochanski-Vendola. “They were handing out medals for previous races, but she was ready to get hers because she wanted one so badly.”
She should have a lot more before she graduates to know how to show up late in fashion to pick up her gear.