Amity’s Emily Criscuolo had several motivating factors to try and win her final Southern Connecticut Conference meet.
The week before, in Amity’s regular-season finale against Cheshire and Shelton, Criscuolo lost for the first time. Also for the first time, East Shore Park was hosting the SCC meet instead of Hammonasset State Park in Madison, which is undergoing renovations.
“That (the loss) really ended up helping me. It was a really embarrassing race that didn’t go well for me,” said Criscuolo, the Register Area MVP for girls cross country. “It was definitely a motivating force for SCCs for sure. … I was really happy they change the course this year. I really don’t like Hammonasset. I haven’t had good races there.”
So on Oct. 20, Criscuolo went up against a pair of rivals, Mercy’s Bridgid Selfors and Cheshire’s Lauren Daddi. Both were ahead of her, but Criscuolo ended up passing both to win the SCC race by 13 seconds in a time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds.
“I probably surprised myself. Even my mom said, ‘It’s OK, if you don’t win, go in and do your best,” Criscuolo said. “I kept her (Selfors) in my sights in the last mile. I didn’t feel like I was going to die, so I just went for it.”
Said Amity girls cross country coach Sean Mahon: “Emily ran the most perfect race. She was so confident that day. She was really unbelievable the last third of the race. She really had the best race of her life. I’m glad she had those other two runners (Selfors and Daddi) to push her. That was her day and it was great to see.”
Criscuolo had plenty more confidence going into the Class LL championship meet. She finished second to Trumbull’s Katelynn Romanchick, finishing at 19:26.
“I was a little disappointed I didn’t win, but it put me in a good spot for the (State) Open,” Criscuolo said.
Unfortunately, things did not go well for her the following week. Criscuolo said she injured her left leg working out in preparation for the Open, then had stomach cramps the day of the race.
She decided to go out and compete, but finished 55th and didn’t qualify for the New England championships.
“It was really upsetting,” Criscuolo said. “I did (consider withdrawing), but wanted to finish it to see if I could push through it.”
Mahon said Criscuolo has had a history with stomach issues and left it up to her to decide whether to run or not.
“If you don’t feel good in the stomach and you try to give it your all in cross country, those two things don’t mix,” Mahon said. “Emily was one of the best in the state. She certainly was disappointed that day, but I told her she had a phenomenal career and she has so much still ahead of her. Everyone is entitled to one bad day.”
Before the season ended, Criscuolo committed to competing in both cross country and track and field at Boston College. She was also considering Holy Cross.
But the partial scholarship that was available at the time from Boston College was too good for Criscuolo to pass up.
“I went on a visit there had a lot of fun. My mom ran there also,” Criscuolo said. “It’s such a big relief. I’m so happy I committed. I would have been stressed out thinking about it (now).”
Criscuolo will have the same coach for cross country and track and field at Boston College that her mom had when she competed for the Eagles: Dave Thomas.