The Seton Hall women’s cross country team was paced by its underclassmen for much of last year, primarily with one freshman who finished first among the Pirates in several meets.
Sophomore Emma Newgarden was not expected to lead runners in just her first season. The Staten Island, N.Y. native had endless stamina in the 2018-19 season, as she cruised to first place finishes at the Cappy Anderson Invitational and the NJIT Invitational and third place at the Monmouth Kickoff and the IC4A ECAC Championship. Newgarden remarkably led among Seton Hall runners in seven out of eight events in 2018.
Head coach John Moon seems to have struck gold again with another freshman this season.
Arianna Braccio has already placed first in a meet this year, running a sub-20 minute time of 19:36.88 at the fourth annual NYIT Cross Country Invitational two weeks ago. The recent form can be attested to Braccio repeating the same steps before every meet, even down to the same meal.
“All of my teammates made fun of me saying I don’t have to get the same meal every time, and I got butter garlic pasta with grilled chicken,” Braccio said. “Going into it, I knew that my dad and sister were coming all the way from New Hampshire so, I just got in my zone and put in my headphones, focused on what I needed to do and ran through the race in my head. It’s a lot of the same Eminem music – it gets you angry but it’s a good kind of angry.”
Running angry has been the formula of success early on as the Nashua, N.H. native has other notable finishes to her name. After finishing 17th in the first meet of her career at the Salisbury University Fall Classic, Braccio finished first among Seton Hall runners, sixth overall at the Stony Brook University Wolfie Cross Country Fall Invitational and, most recently, second among Pirates at the Henry Mercer Invitational.
Braccio credits her parents as the biggest influence on her fortuitous finishing so far, as cross country literally runs in the family.
“My mom ran track in high school and my Dad ran Division 1 at Northeastern University,” Braccio said. “He was a New England champion and everything so, he made sure we were on top of things because college is expensive. Trying to get a scholarship was the number one thing on our minds.”
New Jersey schools were more attractive to her when it came to running at the next level. With her early impact, she says it is great for the team and makes everyone happy when they can move up in the rankings. Seton Hall finished eighth in the Big East rankings last year, and the freshman star believes they can finish higher than that this year.
Braccio and company will look to stay in stride in the next meet in two weeks, specifically at the NJIT invitational on Oct. 5.
“In the classroom I obviously want to get really good grades, maybe Dean’s List of something like that,” Braccio said. “Running-wise, I want to maintain where I am now and increase my personal bests. What I got out of this is that I should appreciate high school workouts more because they were much easier and the ones here a lot harder, which will help me improve.”
Evando Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.