In high school, I think the most important person for my development as an athelte and person was my coach. I was coached by Laura Chegwidden-Jacobs (I call her Chegs for short), and she played a massive role in my success. Coach Chegs is one of the most dedicated people I've ever met. She used to attend all sorts of running conferences to help her expand her knowledge on running to make her athletes the best that they possibly could be.
On top of this, Chegs is raising two young kids, coaching three sports (cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track), and teaching physical education and health classes. She's incredibly resilient and I'm truly grateful for everything she has done for me. She went out of her way to help me develop and be able to run at the college level.
One of the most difficult things that I experienced in high school and in my life was my injury junior year. I was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, and missed nearly a year of races. Compartment syndrome is a fairly rare injury that makes it inecrdibly difficult to run. You will be going for a nice and easy run and after 15 minutes, your legs feel exhausted and you feel like you must stop. This was difficult for me because I went from being an All-State and All-County runner to not being able to finish a 15 minute run.
Fortunately, I was able to get surgery to help me cure my ailment. I went to doctors all over New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey to get help with rehab. It was difficult for me because the road back was mainly uphill. I was so motivated and passionate about what I was doing, but it all got taken away from me in the blink of an eye. After nine months of no racing, I finally got back on the cross country course for my senior season. It felt so good to be back. The season didn't end up being what I wanted, but I knew that if I kept persisting I'd be able to see success again one day.
Although I faced a serious injury and many other injuries in high school, I also experienced a decent amount of success. During my junior year, I ended up being an All-County (top 7 athletes in the county), All-Conference (top 15 athletes in the conference), and All-State (top 10 athletes in the state) runner. I also broke my school record in the 5k, running a time of 16 minutes and 16 seconds. My junior year in cross country ended up being my best season during my time in high school.
Although my success story in high school was somewhat short-lived, I'm still incredibly grateful and thrilled for everything I accomplished during this time period. I went to a tiny high school where running wasn't appreciated by most people. Most people though of running as a punishment and not a lot of people took it seriously. This meant that a lot of training and motivation had to be done by myself and internally.
When I was a sophomore in college, I qualified for cross country nationals for the first time. The race was held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on a golf course. The race didn't end up going as planned for me, but it was truly an honor to compete on the big stage for the first time. Running at nationals was always a goal of mine, and it was great to be able to do that so early on in my college career. I qualified for a second time the next year and my team qualified with me. We competed in Louisville, Kentucky, and had an amazing trip!
Later on in my sophomore year, I qualified for track nationals in the mile. I ended up running a 4:15 mile earlier in the season, and I broke Ithaca College's school record for that event. Once again, I think the pressure got the best of me and I didn't perform to my best ability.
Of every experience I've had in sports, I think that the most valuable experience is friendship. It's easy to be happy about results and good performances, but sharing that with friends is way more valuable. I made some life-long friends doing track and cross country in both high school and college. I'm really blessed to be so close to some wonderful people. I love my friends and I'm so grateful to have them beside me. Having people that you care about is vital in life, and sports have made that way easier for me. I can't wait to attend my friend's weddings some day!