Caroline McGrath Commits to the University of Alabama for Track and Cross Country

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Caroline McGrath Commits to the University of Alabama for Track and Cross Country

Olivia O'Connell, Staff Writer

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Twelve-season runner and senior captain Caroline McGrath walked into the high school at the beginning of her freshman year not knowing anything about track and cross country. In fact, she joined cross country only after being cut from the soccer team. McGrath recently committed to the University of Alabama to run Division I Track and Cross Country on Feb. 19 on a full academic scholarship.

“Just getting to experience competing at such a high level and meeting all the girls on the team is going to be a really awesome experience,” McGrath said.

McGrath recently qualified for New Balance Nationals for both the mile and the 4×800 relay, where she received second place for the 4×800 relay.

“We knew it was our last race of the season, so we just wanted to leave it all out there, and getting second place and getting to take home those medals and stand on the podium was a really awesome way to end the season,” McGrath said.

Before her commitment to run at University of Alabama, McGrath broke the school record for the mile during this year’s winter season. She crossed the finish line with a time of 5:02.89, which took the mile record from Ellen Dwyer 1998’s record and further qualified her for Emerging Elite at Indoor Nationals.

“It feels pretty cool, just because as a runner you look at those records on the board all the time, and I know all those names, and now I get to be up there with them,” McGrath said.

However, the process to achieve her goals this season in particular was far from easy. From freshman year until her last winter season, McGrath was stuck right around the 5:18.00 to 5:20.00 mark, and she had the same personal record for almost two years. It was not until this year that things began to finally change. She finally broke her mark and ran a 5:12.00 mile. However, she was still left unsatisfied. McGrath eventually surpassed her previous personal record by over nine seconds, and she finished with a time of 5:02.89.

“Her freshman year times were very impressive, but with experience and multiple seasons of building confidence in ability and race strategy, she has improved considerably this senior year,” McGrath’s distance coach Fiona Murphy said. “[McGrath] is a versatile and generous athlete, always willing to give an event a try, especially if it will help out the team.”

This year, in particular, McGrath and Murphy think that the team has been training a lot harder than past years, which has contributed a lot to McGrath’s recent success.

“For all our tempo and interval workouts, we build into the speed, and always finish with a faster pace for the last couple repeats. This has helped [McGrath] develop a kick for the end of her races and helps her know she can still push the effort even when tired at the end of a race,” Murphy said.

McGrath also contributed to the new 4×400 school record this season on Jan. 19 with sophomore Mia Costa and juniors Becca Welch and Savannah Campbell. McGrath crossed the finish line at 4:13.77, which broke the previous school record of 4:14.77.  Her split time was 214.6 seconds.

In addition to breaking the 4×400, she helped break the 4×800 school record. McGrath, sophomore Mia Costa, and freshmen Laine DiMartinis and Sophie St.George finished with a time of 9:22.65 at New England Indoor Championships, breaking the previous record of 9:35.84. McGrath’s split time was 61.9 seconds.

“[McGrath] embodies all qualities that would describe a good leader,” sophomore Mia Costa said. “Her dedication and hard work has rubbed off on all of us, and as a result, we have had one of the best indoor track seasons in the history of the program.”

McGrath owes much of this process to Murphy, who encouraged her to reach this milestone when it seemed nearly impossible since McGrath was stuck around the same mile time.

“[McGrath’s] excellent leadership abilities as a captain and her commitment to her teammates also serves as a big reason why she has improved so much this season. She not only focuses on her own performances but does so with the big picture of the team in mind,” Murphy said.

McGrath’s exceptional achievements will no doubt motivate future athletes, as well as set higher standards for athletes who will participate in track and cross country for the Rebels.

“My times this year have been sort of unprecedented, and I think that speaks a lot to the young talent on the team and how it’s pushing everyone to train harder than ever,” McGrath said.

As for her leadership role on the team, she likes to make the season fun as well as keep her teammates laughing.

“This year as a team with [McGrath] as our captain, we’ve arguably had some of the best team bonding the program has seen for awhile,” Costa said. “On behalf of the girls track team, I’m happy to call her my captain!”