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04/02/2024 11:38 AM

Castro an All-Out Star for Old Saybrook Cross Country and Track

Carlina Castro has excelled in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track for the last four years with Old Saybrook, and she will be running cross country at Fairfield University next fall. Photo courtesy of Carlina Castro

Carlina Castro was born to run. As a versatile athlete who displays quite the endurance and dedication on multiple running circuits, she has earned her way to an even bigger stage.

The Old Saybrook senior is a star for the cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams for the Rams. She most recently completed her last season of indoor track in the winter, where she led the way for her teammates by consistently setting a good example of what hard work can produce.

“I am very proud to be nominated by Coach Cap, especially since he sees how much hard work and dedication I put into my running, both at practices and meets,” says Carlina.

Capezzone believes that Carlina displays many different qualities of a good leader, and her ability to step up on big competition stages sets her apart from her teammates.

“She was a great example of dedication and gave her all for the team,” says Capezzone. “Her unselfishness and great focus, especially during the Shorelines and Class S meet, helped us to win and helped her set a new record in the 3200 meters during the Class S meet.”

Carlina competes in all types of runs, from the 4x800 relay to the mile, but longer-distance events are where she thrives. Carlina took three second-place finishes at Shorelines this winter (in the 1000, 1600, and 3200) while also breaking the school record in the 3200 race (11:54) in the Class S State meet.

“I would say my biggest accomplishment happened at States this year,” says Carlina. “I broke the girls’ indoor record for the 3200 meter race a second time this season with a time of 11:54, which I am hoping to bring down even more this season.”

Capezzone can attest to not only Carlina’s impressive times on the track, but additionally her ability to always lead with integrity and prioritize the overall success of her squad, not just herself.

“Carlina has really done a nice job of showing great leadership to the other members of the team,” says Cappezzone. “She’s worked extremely hard as a distance runner and gearing herself towards improving in her events, especially in the 3200 meters. She really set an example to the others on the team of how to improve and what it takes to give your all for your team, unselfishly, in order to win a team championship!”

Carlina’s development and success has a lot to do with the work under the Old Saybrook track distance coaches in Erin Lopez and Jan Merrill-Morin. Both of them have given Carlina a strong platform for success by getting her ready for the biggest and most pressure-filled moments.

“These two coaches have done a phenomenal job of helping to prepare Carlina for the rigors that go along with setting high standards and challenging oneself toward successfully completing them,” says Capezzone.

Carlina credits the distance instructors for not only pushing her through the emotional setbacks, but additionally showing a complete lack of support, even outside of track. Their influence has helped Carlina in several different avenues of life.

“Coach Lopez and Coach Jan were truly my two biggest supporters,” Carlina says. “They constantly pushed me, even when I was having doubts in myself. Coach Lopez has influenced me to become the runner I am today more than anyone. Since she has started coaching, she has never missed a day of supporting all of us. She is always getting our splits, running with us, helping us in school, but beyond that, she has never once had any doubt in our team. Coach Lopez showed me what kind of runner I wanted to be, so much that I’m going to her alma mater. While Coach Jan was primarily the boys’ coach, she took me under her wing, which inspired me to work even harder. She always gave us realistic goals that were going to push us and help us improve in the long run. Coach Jan leaving before my last high school season was such a loss and we all miss her, but Coach Cap and Coach Lopez are doing a great job with the team!”

Carlina began running in middle school, but she didn’t really grow a love for it until she reached high school. Her passion for the sport grew when Capezzone started to challenge her with different kinds of runs and events that made her push herself. Carlina discovered her full potential at the end of her junior year, when she first ran two miles under 12:00. Since then, her self-confidence continued to grow tremendously, and she knows that being a runner has truly shaped her identity and the person she is today.

“I would say running has been the biggest part of high school for me,” says Carlina. “It taught me to work hard but also gave me many memories and friendships that I will never forget.”

As she looks to finish her final campaign on the outdoor track circuit in the spring, Carlina also looks forward to the future. She will continue to pursue her love for running in college at Fairfield University, where she will be on the cross country team.

Carlina describes the recruiting process as a stressful one, because it was tough deciding where the best place would be for her academically for the next four years. Fairfield is a school that allows her to focus primarily on long distance events, since that is where she shines.

“I am super excited to be attending Fairfield in the fall,” says Carlina. “I am especially excited because I’ll be running cross country there, which is my favorite season of the three!”