Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time as well as invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. Thank you to everyone who submitted and are waiting patiently in the queue, we will be posting this series through July and still have a number of submissions to publish.
What was your most memorable race or moment?
The race that immediately comes to my mind is the Holmdel Penn Qualifier Meet. My teammates and I had wanted to qualify for Penn Relays for the longest time and we had a great opportunity to do so. I remember how nervous we all were for this race because of how badly we wanted the qualifying time. I was scared I wouldn't run well because I was really sick but I gave it everything I had for the team. We all did our jobs and worked together to make our dream a reality. We ended up winning and qualifying for Penn Relays, making it such a special moment for all of us. Penn Relays was pretty fun too :)
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
I would say my competition changed quite a bit over the years because I switched from event to event pretty frequently. I'm so thankful that I got to race such amazing girls in Monmouth County that pushed me to do my best. I became really close with a lot of the girls and they are so sweet and fun.
In particular, Maddie Brand was someone I could always count on for a competitive, fast race and I wouldn't have run some of the times I ran without her pulling me along. I became so close with her and was lucky to have her in my county and conference until my junior year. I am also so lucky to have my teammates Sydney and Sammi to push me everyday in workouts and races. We all encourage and support each other no matter how the race or workout goes and strive to better one another. I wouldn't be where I am today without these competitors and I am so grateful.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was breaking 5 minutes in the 1600 my junior year after dealing with a lot of injuries the season before. It was super hot that day, and my goal was to come as close as possible to 5 minutes. The year before, I had run 5 flat and ever since then, all I wanted was to break 5. When I saw 4:55 on the clock, I was in shock and couldn't believe I had run that time. My coach was so happy for me and it was such an exciting moment.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?
I wouldn't get so worked up about races and would stop overthinking the rankings. I found that when I was ranked higher, I would give in to the pressure and end up not having that great of a race. So, if I could do it again, I would try to enjoy the moment rather than fear racing.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Beginning my freshman year, I started to deal with a lot of injuries that prevented me from training consistently. After I had gotten those injuries under control, I started getting more serious injuries after my junior cross country season and couldn't run for periods of time after each injury.
I even missed my entire senior indoor season, which was heartbreaking for me. However, I knew it was the smart thing to do to prepare me for outdoor. It was really hard physically and mentally to deal with these injuries and I learned a lot from them. I think the thing that helped me the most was all of the cross-training I did, especially swimming. These injuries have not only made me a stronger runner, but a stronger person.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the runs with my teammates the most. We always find ways to make workouts fun and always make each other laugh. We have become so close over the years and I don't know what I'll do without them next year. One moment that I will miss incredibly is when we qualified for Nationals in the DMR. We all knew we were capable of shaving seconds off our previous time and we did exactly that. Every person in our relay dropped their time and we ended up breaking our school record by 16 seconds and placing 2nd in the Emerging Elite section.
We were all so proud of each other that our hard work had paid off. That race was an eye opener to us and showed us that we could do anything we put our minds to. Accomplishing this with my teammates by my side made this moment unforgettable and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. My teammates have become my second family and I will forever cherish these moments with them.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
I would tell younger athletes to enjoy the sport and not expect yourself to run a PR every race. When you are too hard on yourself, you don't run as well. I would also say to take your easy runs very, very easy. I've found that when I go too hard on an easy run, I don't have good workouts and races. I try not to look at my watch and just run. Taking time to enjoy running and not worry about pace will prevent you from dreading a run and make you enjoy the sport that much more.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Coach Rap has had a huge role in my development as a person and runner. He has shown that he cares about me as a person and an athlete rather than solely an athlete. When I was injured, he would talk to me about things other than running and make sure I was okay. When I wasn't that confident in my abilities, he made sure to express how confident he was in them.
He never gave up on me, even when I had bad races or bad seasons. Everyday, he inspires me and encourages me to do my best and reach my potential. I couldn't have asked for a better coach to guide me these past four years and I will be forever grateful for all the experiences I had with him.
Also, shoutout to Rap for listening to my jokes and stories everyday at practice! :)
What are your post-high school or college plans?
I will be attending Cornell University in the fall, majoring in Biology. I'm so excited to begin a new journey and meet new people along the way. I loved the team and coach when I visited and it was such a friendly atmosphere. Go Big Red!
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I'd like to thank my parents for dropping everything to attend track meets and always being there for me after races. Whether it was making breakfast for me when I had early meets or giving me pep talks before races, I'm so thankful for them.
Thank you to my coaches for always believing in my abilities and never giving up on me. I was able to talk about anything with them and I wouldn't be where I am today without their help.
Lastly, I would like to thank my teammates for pushing me to be my best and always making practices fun. They are my best friends and we have grown so close over the years.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Shoutout to Hannah, Colleen, Corina, Sarah, and Devin for being the best squad ever!!