MIDDLETOWN >> When Bridgid Selfors would catch people staring or whispering about her during track meets last spring, she’d quietly smile to herself.
What had people gawking and gazing at the 5-foot-8½ inch distance runner from Mercy High, was what was strapped to her face.
During the outdoor track season she wears a sports mask. Bright blue and intimidating to the eye at first glance, Selfors wears it because of her allergies. It helps control them and keep pollen away.
“Some meets I can see pollen in the air, and it just gets worse breathing it in toward the end of the season,” she said. “The more areas I can control about my meet, the better.”
Selfors wears the mask before and after track races, and not during cross country season. She explained it’s too hot while racing for two miles or longer at times.
After trying eye drops, medicines, and even a makeshift mask last year, she saw professional distance runner Galen Rupp wearing a sport mask. So she did some research and gave it a try.
The Mu2 sport mask has a micro air screen filtration material, which repels dust and pollen. It’s provided a noticeable difference and helped relax her — even when people are staring.
“I just kind of go with it,” she said with a grin.
For the girl behind the mask, her easy-going nature is just a part of her competitive, determined and outgoing persona, one she brings to the Mercy cross country team.
“She’s definitely more outgoing than I am,” senior co-captain Mackenzie Pias said. “She is really excited about running and everything she does; so she is a really great person to have on the team.”
The oldest of four siblings, Selfors comes from a running family. Her dad, Brian, ran for Xavier and walked-on at Villanova University. Her brother Dillon is now a freshman on the Xavier cross country squad.
Selfors, who is from Old Saybrook, started running at a younger age, participating in youth and road races, and came into high school with a solid base.
“She’s definitely grown with the team,” Mercy head coach Kathryn Schumann said. “Initially, she didn’t quite know what being on a team of runners kind of was. It took a little while to kind of buy into the team thing, and when she did, the team kind of really took off with her.”
Selfors emerged as Mercy’s No. 2 runner last year, placing third at the Southern Connecticut Conference Cross Country Championships, sixth at Class L and finished in the top 25 at the State Open.
But aside from the individual success, Selfors has embraced the team aspect in a sport she loves.
“I like to think I’m pretty encouraging,” she said. “During track, I’d bring flash cards and we’d pass them around and read them. I hope I’m a motivational person. Running is just really exciting for me.”
The Tigers enter the year as one of the favorites to claim the SCC crown again after winning it the past two years.
On a larger scale, Mercy could make some noise at the state level. A year ago they placed second at the Class L and fourth at the State Open.
Pias, who won the SCC individual title last season, setting a course record in the process, said this is a new group that brings in some great underclassmen to help balance the loss of a few starting graduated seniors.
“What we learned last year is that we can do more than we thought we could,” Pias said. “Accomplishing more than we thought, that really has us excited going into the season.”
And while Selfors, who is a self-described meticulous individual about her schedules, said she has some short- and long-term goals this year for the team. But for now, she is just going to go with the flow and see how the season progresses.
“She’s always one of those kids that is just Bridgid,” Schumann said with a laugh. “She’s very determined, a little stubborn and very passionate. She knows the direction she wants to go in.”