Stuckey always left it all on the field
Greta Stuckey, Bethlehem Press’s Female Athlete of the Year from Liberty High School, has done many great things in track & field, swimming, and cross country. Her most recent great thing came two months ago at the District XI Class 3A Track & Field Championships.
It was an unlikely comeback that Stuckey pulled off as anchor of the Hurricanes’ 4x8 relay on May 15 at Whitehall High School.
“That 4x8 relay (Emily Jobes, Rachel Byrne, Cami Bortz, and Stuckey) is a really close group and I wanted us all to make it to states so when we were in third place when I got the baton, I started pushing right from the beginning,” Stuckey said. “Usually I hold a little bit back, but I just left it all on the track.”
That’s what Liberty coach Andy Messa saw in Stuckey in every event.
“You can’t talk to her after a race because the look on her face says I gave you everything I had,” Messa said.
It’s Stuckey’s eyes and the way she tries to catch her breath, that tell the unspoken story after a race.
As she continued to tell it two months later, “And then on the second lap, I’m like, I don’t think I’m going to be able to catch them, and I started my kick, and then the last hundred, I’m like, I can get both of them, so I started a full sprint. My teammates said they didn’t think we were coming back. It was pretty awesome.”
Liberty’s 4x8 relay won district gold, and Stuckey’s comeback made the cover of Mile Splits Videos.
In prepping the Liberty track team for districts, Coach Messa knew Stuckey had a chance to make states in the 4x8, the 800, and the 4x4, but he also knew how hard it would be to run all three events with all the mileage on her legs.
“I asked her if she wanted to run the 4x4, and with zero hesitation she said, ‘I’m in. I want to run all three if the team needs this,’” Messa said. “She is an incredible teammate. I guarantee the girls would point to her as a leader.”
Messa uses the word toughness to describe Stuckey.
“She’s the toughest athlete on the team,” he said.
Stuckey was the EPC gold medalist in the 800 and the District XI Class 3A silver medalist in the same event. The 4x4 relay that included Rachel Byrne, Yamilet Ferrufino, and Gabby Phillips, along with Stuckey, won EPC gold and District XI Class 3A bronze. The 4x8 relay won EPC gold and finished ninth in the state.
Stuckey plans to continue her track & field career at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. this fall, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by Liberty swimming coach Reik Foust to keep her in the sport of swimming.
“He tried to convince me. For me, I feel like out of all the sports I do, swimming is the hardest,” Stuckey said. “I’m definitely better at running and I have a little bit more passion for it.”
Stuckey did remain committed to swimming throughout high school.
“Her 50 [freestyle] became really great and she was fantastic in the relays. All of a sudden Greta took off and her 50 time dropped and her 100 time dropped,” said Foust. “That’s the reason we ended up going to states, because we needed a fourth, and she stepped into that and was fantastic.”
Before states, though, there was a season full of swim meets to be swum.
“Probably my favorite memory was the Northampton meet because we got the pool record there,” Stuckey said. “I led off that [200 free] relay and everyone (Natalie Richardson, Samantha Taylor, Abby Mack) swam really good there.”
The Liberty 200 free relay time was 1:42.26, breaking the previous record set by Parkland in 2018 with a time of 1:43.76.
At districts, the Hurricanes bettered their time with a 1:38.79, winning silver medals and qualifying for states. They also won bronze medals in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:39.06.
“She knew what she had to do and was very supportive of the other kids when they were trying to do it, and then every once in a while you’d catch her smiling and having fun with it,” Foust said. “The kids on the team love her and she’s so easy to work with, and you ask her to do something and she tries like crazy to get it right.”
Stuckey was also a Liberty swim captain this season and learned a lot over the years from her coach.
“The team as a whole this year, we were all friends and that was good,” she said. “I’ve been with Reik since I was 6 years old, so he taught me hard work and going to practice every day, and giving everything I have and having a focus, being a good teammate and being good to the other team.”
Liberty cross country, coached by Mark Will-Weber, is another sport in which Stuckey competed.
“The home meets were some of my best races because I know that course so well, and then our meet at the Parkway is usually one of my favorites. And Paul Short, I always seem to do really well at that, and that’s where I got my P.R. this season,” she said. “I like the distance, actually. I can ease into my pace a little bit more.”
A true multisport athlete, Stuckey even ran indoor track during the winter.
“Trying to balance multiple sports at once has helped me be a better athlete and overall focused because during swim season, Reik and the swim coaches were really good about letting me get my runs in,” Stuckey said. “I just love running in general. Some days I’ll go on three runs if I feel like it. No one has to tell me to go out and run.”
Coach Foust interjected here.
“But there were quite a few mornings when I had to tell her to get in the water,” he laughed.