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Article Published November 4, 2021

Korenovsky Carves Her Path at East Haven

By By Dan Fappiano

Melania Korenovsky participated in her first season with the East Haven girls’ cross country team as a sophomore this fall. Melania continually progressed throughout the campaign and recently turned in a personal-best performance for the Yellowjackets at the Southern Connecticut Conference Championship.

Melania started running cross country when she was in 7th grade at Joseph Melillo Middle School. Melania’s mother Natalie and grandfather Stepan encouraged her to join the team. While she wasn’t the biggest fan of the sport at the start, the more Melania ran, the more that she enjoyed competing in cross country.

“I wanted to get involved in something in school. My mom used to run, so she inspired me to run. My grandpa would drive me back and forth. He would come to my meets. He was my biggest support,” says Melania. “At first, I really didn’t like it much. But once I got used to the running, I really started loving it.”

After opting not to run as a freshman, Melania decided to join the East Haven girls’ cross country squad in her sophomore year. She had been training throughout the summer and decided that the time was right to become a Yellowjacket. As soon as she joined the team, Melania realized how serious high school cross country is and knew that she wanted to represent her school as best as possible.

“It was very interesting running at the high school level. The trail was longer, three miles instead of two,” Melania says. “We were running with a lot more people. There was more pressure to do well. You’re running for your school, and you want to do your best.”

On Oct. 20, Melania ran in her first SCC Championships at East Shore Park in New Haven. As she arrived the meet, Melania took in atmosphere as she saw numerous people who were there to support the Yellowjackets’ runners. Once she got to the starting line, Melania was determined to put forth her best performance yet.

“It was really cool. People came from our school to support us. My grandparents came. It was really nice to have that experience,” says Melania. “It was one of the first meets I was really nervous for. I was running with over 100 other girls. I wanted to do well. It was really overwhelming, but it was fun.”

When the race was finished, Melania had placed 64th in a pack of 106 runners, completing the race in 24 minutes and 20 seconds. Melania’s time marked her new personal best for a 5K, trimming nearly 2 ½ minutes off of her previous best.

“As I was running down, I saw my time, and I couldn’t even believe it,” Melania says. “When I’m finishing, I told myself I was almost there. I wanted to make East Haven proud. There’s not a lot of kids on the team, so it’s on you to do a good job.”

This season was Ricky Narracci’s first year as head coach of the East Haven cross country program. While he’s only seen Melania compete in a handful of meets, Narracci believes that she has the potential to have a great career with the Easties if she keeps improving.

“Melania is a great kid and a very good student. She is new to the sport, but improved drastically over the course of the season, setting her personal record in SCCs by 2:20,” says Narracci. “She has the potential to be a very good runner if she sticks with it.”

As she continues running for East Haven, Melania’s goal is to have more teammates competing alongside her. Melania understands that cross country is a hard sport, but is hoping that her efforts will inspire fellow students to join her on the trails.

“I want to inspire other kids to join cross country. There weren’t a lot of kids this year. I hope people see that cross country is a real sport and all the hard work that goes into it,” Melania says. “I want to inspire others to get into running. I want to make my school proud, try my best, and continue running.”

Melania joined the East Haven girls’ tennis team as freshman and is still a member of the squad. Melania says that cross country has helped her endurance in tennis and that she doesn’t tire out as easily due to her experience as a runner.

Whenever Melania is competing on the course, she lives by one motto, ‘Just keep running.’ Every time she puts on her East Haven uniform, Melania remembers her mantra and what it means to be a Yellowjacket.

“No one realizes how hard this sport is. Being a cross country runner shows I work hard,” says Melania. “When I put on that jersey, I want to make sure I uphold that name and do the best I can. Wearing that jersey gets me through the races. I always tell myself, ‘Just keep running.’ My goal is to never walk. That jersey reminds me to just keep running and always do my best.”