Salute to Seniors: Mary Ann Walsh of South Amboy

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We invited the 2020 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. Thank you to everyone who submitted, we still have a few to post and the series ends with July. 

Mary Ann Walsh

South Amboy HS

What was your most memorable race? 

My most memorable race was sectionals in winter this year. I was having a terrible week because my cousin Jimmy passed away earlier that week, he was only 27. Jimmy always loved to hear about my track adventures and I knew he would want me to race so I decided to run Sectionals for him. I even wrote his name on my spikes. The entire race I felt him cheering me on from heaven and counting the laps with me. When I made States I decided to give my medal to his mom in Jimmy's honor.  

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

My biggest competition in GMC was Sarah Kulpa from Monroe who is actually a very close friend of mine. We were always close in times when we raced and if we saw one another having a difficult time we always cheered each other on and pushed one another. Shore Regional was always my biggest competition in my section. It's funny because their Coach Mel was one of my coaches at Shore Running Experience every Summer which I looked forward to every year.  

What was your personal greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is graduating South Amboy High School as the school record holder in the 1600, 3200 and 5k.  

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

I would definitely include to enjoy high school. I would also say to work hard and strive to be the best version of yourself you can be. It's also important to make running fun and enjoy every race. Four years goes by so fast.  

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

The most difficult obstacle I faced was getting a stress reaction at the end of my freshman year causing me to be out for 8 weeks which made it hard to get into shape for cross country. Then sophomore year I had Mono which really hurt my spring season. On the bright side, I found a wonderful chiropractor that I have been working with for almost 2 years who has helped me stay healthy and I worked really hard at boosting my immune system. Overall these obstacles taught me to never give up, to keep working hard no matter what and that every problem has a solution.  

What will you miss the most?

First, I will miss Coach Mecca and all of my teammates at South Amboy High School, they have become my second family. They always had my back and we have so many wonderful times together before, during, and after races. Second, I will miss my friends from different schools. They always made me laugh before my races to make me a little less nervous. There are so many but I need to mention a few - Sarah Kulpa, Miranda Porta, Faiz Khan, Jackie Broehl, Eleni Alvarez, Cynthia Boryeskne and Ashley Martin. Thank you all for brightening up my races!  

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

It is really important to believe in yourself and never give up. Runners are unique athletes competing in three seasons every year, make sure you have a balanced life to ensure your success - training, school work, fun, and making sure you also have downtime.  

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

Coach Mecca stood by me since the sixth grade. He constantly challenged me, taught me to believe in myself, and to stick with the front pack. He was also so supportive with the obstacles I mentioned above. He knew I wanted to run in college and did whatever he could to help me get there. He did things like schedule races such as Holmdel Night of 3200s and Shore Coaches at Holmdel park to help me challenge myself and prove what I could do. He also had us work really hard over the summer including long runs at Holmdel which really helped. My brother Patrick is a volunteer assistant coach and his training plans that he put together also really helped me achieve my goals in my junior and senior year.  

Name the top New Jersey XCTF moment(s) you have witnessed. 

The number one moment that I witnessed was my brother Patrick's senior year. It was during Cross Country when he ran at OCP, he had a couple of college coaches there and ran the race of his life running 15:30 for the 5k. I knew right then and there anything is possible with hard work and dedication.  

What are your post-high school or college plans?

I will be attending Wagner College for nursing and running both Cross Country and Track. Go Seahawks!  

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I would like to thank my parents for coming to every race and being my biggest supporters. A big thank you to my brother Patrick who has always been there for me on and off the track from shouting out my splits at races to giving me pep talks before each race. I would also like to thank Coach Mecca for all he has done and my wonderful teammates and friends for supporting me through the years and for always being there for me.