Salute to Seniors: Samantha Carella of Monroe Township HS

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

Samantha Carella

Monroe Township HS

Four years and countless miles later, I never thought I'd be saying goodbye to running this way. Watching so many of my friends graduate in the past, I always pictured myself having my last race at state sectionals surrounded by all of my teammates. It's still haunting to me that my last race was at the Bubble, and I didn't even know it. Although I am upset with the way it ended, I am beyond grateful for everything running has given me. I learned the meaning of hard work, the importance of determination and how rewarding it can be to cheer for others. Some of the most exciting experiences I had with running came from watching my teammates and friends reach their goals, break records and have incredible wins. I was overjoyed when my teammates accomplished their goals because I saw the hard work they put in every day.

For me, running has been a journey of mental and physical growth that I never could have imagined. When I began training in the summer of 2016, my 5k time was over 35 minutes. I was worried about even making the team, and I never even dreamt of being where I am today. I might've not won any big races or broken any records, but the progress I made was extremely fulfilling for me.

Looking back, I am proud of where I am now, but the road to get here was filled with insane highs and unimaginable lows. My favorite race was easily the GMC championship race in spring 2019. I ran the mile in 5:25 and came back the next day to run the two mile in 11:56. Both of those times were huge PRs for me, and I was ecstatic. A few weeks later at state sectionals, I was seeded in the fastest heat and ran the mile in 5:50.

After that race I was upset and extremely embarrassed; however, I think that experience was a pivotal moment in my growth. Although I was distraught over what had happened the night before, I came back on Saturday morning with a genuine smile on my face to watch my teammates run. I didn't cope with my failure by sulking, instead I focused on the joy the people around me brought. That lesson is one I will remember for life.

This year I had the honor of leading such an amazing group of girls. In cross country, the team dynamic was incredible. We had such a supportive and hard working atmosphere both at meets and in practice. Those girls pushed me through some grueling workouts, and I know I couldn't have done it without them.

During the winter season, we really took off. Our DMR team finally placed at county relays after being 7th or 8th for the last few years, and we had big plans for our 4x1600 relay in the spring. Although I am sad I can't be a part of it, I am so excited to see the future of Monroe. The underclassmen are relentless workers and fierce competitors, so I know their future is bright. If I could tell them one thing, it would be: Be the runners you already are, and the leaders I know you can be. If you guys keep running fast, working hard and spreading positivity to your teammates, you will go so far.

I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped me on my journey.

First and foremost, I can't say thank you enough to the Monroe Township coaches for all they have done for me. They celebrated with me during my best moments, and they supported me through my worst moments. They made me laugh, made me smile and gave me the courage to take on the world.

I would also like to say thank you to my family. Whether there was snow on the ground or blistering heat, my parents came to all of my races. It didn't matter if I was in first or last, they were always cheering for me. To my older brother, Richard, thank you for inspiring me to run. Thank you for dragging me to the park with you in the beginning and not letting me give up, even on the days I wanted to, because it really changed me. To my younger brother, Joseph, you are the calmest runner I have ever met, and I hope that never changes. I have never met someone who accepts a challenge with such composure.

To my teammates, thank you guys for being the best. Whether I was nervous for a race, tired during a workout or worried about losing my final season, you guys always had my back. I made such incredible friends during my time running, and you guys mean so much to me. I can't wait to hear about all that you do, and I'll definitely be back to visit.

To my fellow runners and seniors, thank you guys for being the toughest competitors I have ever met. Especially to the girls who ran in the GMC with me, you guys are awesome. Your hard work was apparent, and I have the utmost respect for all of you. Whether you're continuing your running journey or not, I sincerely wish you all the best!

As for me, my running journey has in a way come to an end. I am not running competitively in college, but I know running will always be a part of my life. It keeps my mind and my body healthy, and it is just one of my favorite things to do. I have a feeling I will have some running clubs and road races in my future. Although I am moving on to a new chapter, running will always be such an important part of my story.

Thank you running and thank you to the Monroe Township team for making my 11 seasons the best experience of my life.