This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published February 21, 2018
Annea Thaci stuck to track and field like a magnet once she familiarized herself with the sport. This winter, Annea’s hard work has helped land some major medals for both herself and the Old Saybrook girls’ indoor track team.
Annea played volleyball and did competitive swimming during her middle school years, but after entering high school, she was encouraged by her friends to put her foot in the track world, and quickly gravitated toward the sport. As a senior captain this season, Annea won the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 9.1 seconds, in addition to taking first place in the long jump with a personal-best distance of 16 feet-4 inches at the Shoreline Conference Championship on Feb. 3, earning All-Conference First Team honors in both events. Annea’s stellar performance was one of many that helped Old Saybrook defend its conference title as the Rams won the meet by a whopping 73 points.
“I disliked track at first, but once I got to know what it was about after a while, I fell in love with it,” says Annea. “I was just proud that both our team and the boys’ team won Shorelines. We work hard in practice and as a team. It was quite the win to take the title home, and the margin we won it by really showed how hard we worked.”
Annea got out to shaky starts during both of her victorious performances at the Shoreline meet. However, she shook off those early struggles and any nerves, while ultimately pushing herself to pair of wins, plus a record-setting leap.
“In the trials for the hurdles, I hit every single one, and then I had a leap of 14-11 for my first long jump,” Annea says. “I just wanted to keep pushing myself and take the gold. I almost had a new [personal record] in the hurdles, and I wasn’t expecting to win the long jump.”
In addition to doing the hurdles and long jump for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, Annea also competes in the high jump and relays. Annea is especially fond of the hurdles, because she likes the challenge of not only racing the other competitors, but also dealing with the obstacles in front of her. While grinding through multiple events in any pressure-packed postseason meet, Annea zones in and paces herself accordingly.
“The hurdles are my favorite, because you are looking at them at the starting line, and it’s a great feeling when you clear them. It’s a rush. It’s also an amazing feeling when you cross the finish line,” says Annea, who finished fourth in the 55 hurdles at the Class S State Championship. “You just have to focus, keep yourself calm, and not tire yourself out. You have to listen to your body and know your limits.”
Old Saybrook girls’ indoor track Head Coach Peter Capezzone feels proud of Annea for the feats she’s achieved in the critical moments. Capezzone says that while Annea set some big-time goals for herself this season, she’s a humble athlete who always puts her teammates first.
“Annea is a tremendous athlete. She is the kind of athlete that you want in the clutch. As an example, in the Shoreline Championship, Annea came up big on one of her final jumps in the long jump and jumped a personal best of 16-4 to win it. She has now really worked to be a stronger hurdler and is the conference champion,” says Capezzone. “Annea is great with the other team members. She is always willing to help others, and that was a big reason for her being chosen as a captain for this winter season.”
As she nears the final mile of her time at Old Saybrook, Annea expresses great gratitude for the mentors she’s worked with and the experiences she’s had after taking a chance on a new sport a few years ago.
“I am definitely thankful for our coaches here. They push us, and it’s been a heck of a ride with them,” says Annea, who thanks all of her coaches and teammates. “I would have missed so much if I didn’t do track here at Old Saybrook.”