Bodak Paces Her Way to Great Career
Senior captain Meara Bodak proved one of the top runners in the Shoreline Conference while representing the Haddam-Killingworth girls’ cross country team for the past four years. (Photo courtesy of Meara Bodak )
Meara Bodak will always remember all of those early morning bus rides that she took with her teammates as a member of the Haddam-Killingworth girls’ cross country squad. Meara will also have fond memories of what the Cougars accomplished while going on countless road runs together throughout the past four years.
A senior at H-K, Meara emerged as one of the top runners in the Shoreline Conference during her tenure with the Cougars. Meara earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors in her sophomore and junior seasons, in addition to garnering All-State recognition as a junior.
In her freshman year, Meara was a top-five runner on the most successful girls’ cross country team in H-K history, helping the Cougars go 12-0 in the regular season, win the Shoreline Conference crown, and then claim the Class SS state title. This year, Meara led the H-K pack as a senior captain.
“My favorite aspect of this sport is the camaraderie that comes with the miles, races, and grueling workouts completed as a team,” says Meara. “I became well-versed in the language of cross country and fell in love with the intensity of races...and the trust each teammate had for another. We experienced the highs and the lows together, which is one of the reasons this high school sports team has become something more of a family.”
Meara has been running since she was in the 7th grade. Meara took up the sport because it seemed like a great way for her to spend more time with her friends.
“People also had always said that I would be a good runner,” Meara says. “So, I decided to try it out in middle school and have loved it ever since.”
Meara put in more than 300 miles during the offseason in preparation for the fall campaign, but developed a stress fracture after H-K’s second meet, effectively ending her season. Even though her senior season came to an abrupt finish, Meara still found ways to keep her teammates in good spirits.
“My favorite moment from this season was getting to spend time with my teammates and friends, even if this season had not gone the way we planned,” says Meara. “Although this season was unexpected, it showed me the resilience of the spirit of this team, and I was just as excited to come to practice every day, even without the prospect of pasta dinners or out-of-state invitationals that come with a normal season.”
Head Coach Matt Diglio says that Meara made an immediate impact as a freshman and kept doing so through all four of her seasons with the team. Although Diglio felt bad that Meara couldn’t run in Shorelines this fall, the coach was impressed with how she continued to lead the Cougars while sidelined.
“While extremely disappointed and feeling she let her teammates down, Meara showed her true colors as a leader and captain of the team as she continued to support her teammates for the remainder of the season,” Diglio says. “Meara is extremely hard-working, dedicated, and goal-oriented, both in the classroom and on the track.”
Aside from cross country, Meara also competes for the girls’ indoor and outdoor track teams at H-K. Whether she’s on the track or the trails, Meara takes her game to the next level by running the necessary miles in order to improve her times.
“Running takes dedication and, in order to commit to this sport, you must have a certain amount of appreciation for the difficult workouts and know that, while seemingly impossible in the moment, they are helping you reach your goals,” says Meara. “This past summer, I ran over 300 miles to prepare for this season, and the speed and distance workouts I have done during this season have allowed me to lower my times on the cross country course and improve my game.”