LAKEWOOD - Liberty Ricca’s track and field career is still in its early stages.
But the junior, competing in her second year on the Discovery Canyon track team, already has a gold medal.
Ricca claimed the first gold of Day 2 of the high school track and field state championships in the 4A girls’ 3,200 with a time of 10 minutes, 57.56 seconds. But Ricca’s two-mile triumph is just a warm-up for what she does in her free time.
When she’s not on the track for the Thunder, Ricca competes in triathlons.
As a member of the APEX triathlon team in Boulder, she typically spends four to five hours a day swimming, running and biking. Thankfully she can take care of the running part while practicing with the Discovery Canyon track team, and gets her swimming in with the Pikes Peak Athletic Club.
“It’s a lot, but I’ve learned to balance it,” Ricca said. “And doing track has really helped build up my endurance and speed.”
Ricca will travel to Ecuador this summer with her triathlon team to compete in a Youth Olympic qualifying event.
“I hope to win there and make the youth Olympic team – and eventually win gold,” Ricca said.
Her interest in triathlons sparked just a few years after most children learn to walk. At 6 or 7 years old, Ricca remembers, she went to a tri-clinic hosted by her old swim team.
“I just fell in love with it, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Ricca said.
In Friday’s 3,200 run, Ricca lagged behind for the first six laps, but made her move in the final 800 and put a few seconds between her and Valor Christian’s Taylor Whitfield.
“Last year I barely got into state in the mile and two mile since it was the first time doing track. So this year has been really exciting,” Ricca said. “I came in with the intention to win, and being in my second year in track I just really wanted to be a champion.”
In addition to her 3,200 race, Ricca is also qualified for the 1,600, seeded eighth.