Sports Person of the Week
Wiley Was Born to Run
Junior captain Caitlin Wiley was an All-Shoreline Conference and All-State First Team honoree on behalf of the Old Saybrook girls’ cross country squad this fall. (Photo courtesy of Caitlin Wiley )
Caitlin Wiley loves to run. She’s only a junior, but Caitlin has the résumé of a seasoned veteran and has already earned All-Shoreline Conference and All-State honors for the Old Saybrook girls’ cross country team.
Caitlin recently completed her junior season as a captain for the Rams. In addition to cross country, she also competes for the Old Saybrook girls’ indoor and outdoor track squads. Caitlin has been running ever since the 6th grade, when her mother Michelle encouraged her to join her middle school team.
“I was always energetic as a child,” says Caitlin. “I loved running around the yard, and my parents eventually encouraged me to sign up. Now, it’s become one of my favorite activities to do.”
The 2020 season posed new challenges for Caitlin and the Rams, but she still performed well on the trails throughout the campaign. At the Shoreline Conference Championship, Caitlin finished in fourth place out of 61 runners with a time of 22 minutes and 4 seconds. Caitlin garnered All-Shoreline Conference First Team and All-State First Team accolades by virtue of her performance.
“This wasn’t my best race, but my teammate [sophomore Catherine Minegar] and I really pushed each other at the end to finish strong,” Caitlin says. “We like to push toward the front of the pack and keep a strong pace. She’s a great teammate to run with.”
One of the biggest struggles for cross country runners this year was the lack of competition during races. Due to COVID-19, teams in the Shoreline Conference were forced to run in dual-meets, as opposed to competing in heats of three teams or more as they typically would. In the end, Cailtin felt comfortable as long as she was running alongside her fellow Rams.
“I like running with my team, because it’s a total team effort,” says Caitlin. “You depend on your teammates to push you and set a steady pace. Sometimes people want to run at a slower or faster pace, but we like to run our own race.”
Old Saybrook Head Coach Pete Capezzone praises Caitlin for her work ethic as a runner. Capezzone says that Cailtin has an uncanny ability to follow every workout exactly as it’s planned.
“Caitlin has been working tremendously hard during the spring, summer, and fall months to be at the level she is at. She leads in a quiet, but firm manner with others on the team. She doesn’t believe in shortcuts in her training and follows the workout plans to a T,” Capezzone says. “When it comes to leadership, she is always encouraging to not only her teammates, but her competition as well. It makes me so proud when an athlete like Caitlin receives the accolades that she deserves.”
This fall marked the third year in a row that Caitlin made the All-Shoreline Conference First Team for cross country, and it was the second-straight season that she made the All-State First Team. On top of her cross country accolades, Caitlin holds Old Saybrook’s school record for the indoor 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:05.
Caitlin always makes sure that she has the right fuel to give her the fire that she needs on the raceway.
“You have to base everything off of what you eat if you want to improve as a runner,” says Caitlin says. “I try to eat healthy and drink a lot of water. My pre-race routine includes eating an acai bowl for breakfast, a salad with beans for lunch, and pasta the night before a race.”
It means the world to Caitlin that Old Saybrook was able to compete this fall. There was plenty of chatter that the season wouldn’t even take place, so Cailtin felt ecstatic when she found out that it was happening.
“I felt very lucky to have a season,” Caitlin says. “There was a rumor that all sports were going to be shut down. When we did get a season, even though it wasn’t a traditional, normal year, it was still nice. Meets were a little tough, because you don’t know exactly how to pace when your best competition isn’t there, but we made it work.”
Cailtin wants to get her 5K time down into the 19-minute range as a senior. She’s also planning to recruit more people to compete for Old Saybrook’s cross country program.
“Since I’m a captain, I’m looking to get other people to join the team in the school,” says Caitlin. This is a great sport, and I’m hoping that we can encourage other girls to join next season.”