H.S. profile: Pittsford Sutherland runner Liz Cufari



By James Johnson
Democrat and Chronicle

(May 16, 2003) — This week we profile Pittsford Sutherland’s Liz Cufari, a junior who competes in track and field.

Sport: Track and field.

School: Pittsford Sutherland. Year: Junior, fourth varsity season.

Main events: 800-and 1,500-meter runs, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay.

Worth watching: Cufari is the reigning Monroe County League girls 1,500 meter champion and hopes to help the combined Pittsford girls team contend for the league title beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at Gates Chili.

She has qualified for five state meets (two cross country, two indoor and one outdoor) and participated in a national-level event for the first time in March.

On Friday, she won the 1,500 race in a meet at Honeoye Falls-Lima in 4:41.4, the third-fastest reported time in the state.

Coach speak: ‘’Distance coach Jason DeJoy really has Liz and the other runners peaking at the right time,’’ Pittsford coach Jim Erwin said.

’’My feeling is that (Cufari) is not done yet.

’’Her work ethic, ability and commitment reminds me of a quieter version of Linda Gryski. She doesn’t like being set apart, she just wants to be a part of the team. She has humility which for a coach, is really nice to see.’’

At Counties: ’’I’ll probably be in at least three events, but I can’t give away too much (for strategy purposes). Whatever I’m in, it’ll be a tough race.’’

Background in track: ‘’I’ve been running since I was in the third grade and loved it since then. I also started running road races on the weekend and I used to watch (high school) meets. I knew I’d be out there someday.’’

A different view: ‘’When I was younger, I used to get intimidated by the older runners, but you have to accept the competition.’’

Top athletic achievement: ‘’Going to indoor nationals in New York City (National Scholastics Track and Field Championships at the Armory),’’ said Cufari, who finished 13th in the girls one-mile race.

’’It could be the turning point for me, to get out there and run with the best. It gave me confidence for this outdoor season.’’

Racing stopwatches: Her personal-best time in the 1,500, her best race, is 4:40.04 at last year’s Section V Class AA/A Championships at Webster Thomas.

’’I’m close to that this year. I hope to get under that soon, maybe this week.’’

Most difficult aspect about my sport: ’’Being mentally prepared and focused for a race. There’s more to it than stepping on the start line. You have to be ready for everything.’’

Academic average: 87 (B).

Other school activities: Sutherland Class of ‘04 secretary and varsity club.

Pet peeve: ’’I hate when people don’t work hard in practice.’’

People would be surprised to know that: ’’I play the saxophone.’’

Most embarrassing moment: ‘’Falling over the hurdles two weeks ago (during a 400-meter race). I’m fine, just a few scrapes.’’

Inside my CD player: Dave Matthews Band Busted Stuff.

Dream vacation: ‘’I’d go to Hawaii once. I’m not a big traveler.’’

Before I graduate I want to: ’’Win a state championship.’’