While many postseason accolades could look different from previous years after the abridged fall season, cross country is still able to judge runners the same way, and Bristol Eastern junior Fiona Gallagher was able to make history for the Lancers this year.
Gallagher became the second girl in school history to earn all-state honors after posting a 5k time of 20:10 in Eastern’s race against New Britain at Stanley Quarter Park on Oct. 28.
“To come away with an All-State honor in this season is phenomenal,” coach Kyle Fuller said. “We only had seven races, we had one team cancel on us that didn’t want to race us so we only had seven total races. So for her to come and bust out those times with only seven meets is outstanding.”
Gallagher’s time is the second fastest for a girl in school history behind Amanda Sumner, who is also the only other Eastern girl to be named All-State. Fuller said Gallagher’s improvement over the season was noticeable and more impressive because of how they were forced to begin the season.
“When we first had our first home meet at Page Park, obviously Page Park is a little hillier, she ran a 24:21,” Fuller said. “Being that it’s a hillier course and everyone was running, but they weren't in race shape yet. At the Plainville meet, that course was a little flatter, so you could start seeing the improvement.”
Fuller said Gallagher entered this season with a new attitude towards running after putting in hard work over the summer. Despite losing a traditional cross country season because of the pandemic, she made sure to get the most out of this year.
“She had a great summer training regimen that actually boosted her confidence and her speed, which made her so much better this year than previous years,” Fuller said. “She has a new drive mentally that is just phenomenal to see. You can her times, obviously everyone was a little out of shape even though she did a ton of miles over the summer, you could see her progressively getting faster. It all culminated at New Britain the first time we raced there on Oct. 28. She was running well up until the end of October, but Oct. 28 she just busted out a time of 20:10 and that became the second fastest girl to ever run the 5k for Bristol Eastern.”
With another year at Eastern to build on this success, Fuller imagines Gallagher will be able to improve even more as a runner with a complete season that features more races and larger invitationals.
“We had no invitationals except for the last race of the year, the CCC meet,” Fuller said. “Other than that you don’t get the experience of these big meets because you’re racing one team at a and in the girls race you’re racing 15-25 at a time. So it’s tough to stay motivated in a season like this with so few races and so little competition.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org