Salute to Seniors: Maria Liberatore of Paul VI

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We invite this year's seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. With the loss of the spring season we hope we can offer a chance to reflect on all the great moments this class did get to experience.

The series will run into the summer. Please note that there is a queue of submissions that keeps growing so there may be a wait until final publishing, but we will get to your piece. 

For instructions on how to submit a piece please see this announcement article

Maria Liberatore

Paul VI HS

What was your most memorable race?

My most memorable race was qualifying for Meet of Champions my freshman year for the girls 4x800m. This was before the qualification standards changed and we were able to just get in by placing 6th. (It was changed to only the top two from each event go to MOCs in November of that year). I was placed in a runoff a few days before because my coaches wanted to take the four fastest girls and they were shocked that I ran a pr for my leg, considering that I raced twice that week. Everyone was just so happy and we ran 14 seconds faster than our time at the sectional meet, so it was pretty good night for us. We were the youngest team in our school's history to qualify (two freshmen and two sophomores).

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

I feel that my biggest competitor over the course of my four years were my teammates. I was considered one of the good runners on the team, but not the best. I would always be chasing after them during workouts and when it came time for the race, I wanted to beat them. Besides my teammates, my biggest competition was probably a few girls from Bishop Eustace and Kim Powers from Camden Catholic.

What was your personal greatest accomplishment?

My personal greatest accomplishment is coming back from my injury and having the best cross country season of my entire career in high school. My junior year of high school running was very hard for me. During XC, I sprained the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in my left knee and ended up being out for a month. That whole year was filled with bad races, and during the summer I worked my butt off and I shaved 41 seconds off of my pr for cross country. I was in the top 25 for almost all of my races. It was the first time in two years I was happy with my results and my training went really well for those 6 months.

If you are writing a letter to your younger freshman self, what are some items that might include?

Some things that I would put in a letter to my younger freshmen self would be to tell her to do cross country her freshman year (I didn't start until my sophomore year because my dad thought it would hurt my legs). I convinced him to let me once he saw some of my results from my first indoor season and with some encouragement from my coach.

I would tell her to take running a little bit more seriously, like do more core work, stretch, eat right, and to not always go hard everyday. I would also tell her to make the most out of every meet. Don't be as shy and nervous and just interact more with your teammates. The meets are where you're supposed to have fun but also be serious at the same time.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Wow, there's quite a few of them. During my sophomore year, my times for the mile and 800 were not turning right and one of my coaches told me that I was getting slow. My workouts were going well, but nothing was showing.

My junior year was by far the most difficult obstacle I had to overcome. I injured my LCL in September and I could not run for a month. This was the longest time I had gone without running in 3 years. It was hard seeing my teammates do well knowing that I should be too. I finally was able to run in the sectional meet as the 12th man and my time was just awful. I thought everything would be well during track season, but they weren't. I ran some of my slowest times ever. I could not break 6 for the mile for the life of me and my pr was 30 seconds faster than that. I was doing the training but nothing was showing. With this, I almost ended up quitting the sport because I was just so frustrated with everything.

What will you miss the most?

I am going to miss my team and all the experiences that I had with Paul VI Cross Country and Track and Field. I will miss all of the laughs, the hard workouts, the inspirational talks from my coach, the Wawa runs and all of my teammates who always put a smile on my face.

What advice would you give to younger upcoming athletes?

Please take your training seriously and do not be afraid to hurt. The whole purpose of getting better at running is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Always talk to your teammates and form a nice bond between you and your event coach. This bond will be with you for the rest of your life. In addition, have fun with your runs. Make jokes, act weird and be the your regular ol' self.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

After getting a new assistant coach this year, he has had a major influence with respect to my performance and overall life goals. He is constantly trying to make us better as both athletes and individuals.

Name the top New Jersey XCTF moment you have witnessed. Can be by level of greatness or just something that really stood out to you.

Watching Liam Murphy and Devin Hart battle it out during the 3200m at MOCs last year. This really stood out to me because Devin was such a standout and Liam was just coming into the ranks and he beat him in the last 50 meters. It was amazing.

What are your post-high school or college plans?

My future plans are attending Rowan College at Burlington County for 3 years to earn my Associates for Applied Science for Nursing and then finishing at Rowan University to earn my BSN my senior year. After this I will attend graduate school and hopefully work in either a Philadelphia or New York City hospital.

Who would you to say 'thank you' to? 

I would give a large thank you my distance coaches Mike Lyons and Vince Cieslik for making me the runner that I am today. I would also thank my head coaches Priscilla Frederick and Kashiff Miller for doing everything possible for the program. In addition, I want to give a large thank you to my teammates (both past and present) for always supporting me and for all of the memories. 

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

Run in the Poconos with your friends for a week, you'll never regret it and don't forget to "run happy" - Brooks Running. :).