In order to prevent any unwanted surprises on race day, every cross country runner tries to learn the course they’re going to compete on prior to a meet.
According to Mercy cross country coach John Hastings, no runner he’s ever coached has mastered the art of learning the course quite like Register Area MVP senior Kaleigh Roberts.
“Most athletes don’t have this,” he said. “It’s something you can’t teach.”
However, Roberts said it was taught to her. She said her brother, former Xavier High and Central Connecticut State University runner Kyle Roberts, and Hastings have played a major part in her ability to run.
Kaleigh Roberts said prior to a race, Hastings would bring the team to the course they’re going to compete on. She said she would run the course and look for spots where she can accelerate and decelerate and gain an advantage on her competition.
“I’m looking for hills and spots that are unfamiliar that may be a challenge,” Roberts said.
Said Hastings: “She just knows how to get the most out of herself and is realistic about it.”
This season, Roberts got the most out herself and a little more, winning the Southern Connecticut Conference championship meet, setting a course record at Hammonasset State Park in Madison in the process.
She also set the course record at Mercy in a dual-meet triumph over All-Area runners Danae and Leah Rivers of Wilbur Cross with a time of 19:04. She followed those strong performances up with fifth-place finishes in the Class LL and State Open meet at Wickham Park in Manchester and came in 33rd in a field of 264 in the New England Championship meet at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H.
Roberts said she doesn’t always guess right, however. She said in the Class L meet, she probably could’ve done better than fifth, if not for one miscalculation.
“I went out too hard,” Roberts said. “I thought I’d be able to stay with Cate Allen (Fairfield Warde, the Class L champion) when I went out, but I went out too fast and I was feeling it a little before the mile.”
Settling for fifth place amongst Class L’s best runners isn’t too shabby, and neither is her academic performance. She is in the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society at Mercy.
The senior will stay local for college, attending Quinnipiac University. Once there, she said she’ll use her keen ability to estimate what decision should be made prior to making it. That’s helped her on the course and in the classroom as a business major.
“An athlete isn’t just made up of how they run,” Roberts said. “We have to keep our grades up to go to these good schools and compete. Education does come first.”