Athlete of the Week: Kelley MacElhiney
Glastonbury High School senior Kelley MacElhiney ran a team-best 19:41 to place 5th overall at the Class LL state finals as the Guardians won the meet as a team.
MacElhiney finished just ahead of sophomore teammates Lila Garbett and Brooke Strauss, who finished 6th and 7th, respectively. Jackie Dudas (11th) and Ava Gatinella (15th) rounded out the top five GHS runners as the Guardians trounced runner-up Ridgefield by 38 points.
“It felt really great. It’s such a supportive environment because you are with all of your teammates,” MacElhiney said of the class meet at Wickham Park. “It’s exciting because our parents and everyone you know is there and because you’ve worked hard, so it’s nice to see that work put into the race.”
MacElhiney’s time was over two minutes faster than her time at the event a year ago, when she battled a series of injuries throughout the season and finished 39th overall with a time of 21:56 at the 2021 Class LL finals.
Prior to her senior season, MacElhiney used strength training, increased stretching and icing, along with physical therapy to prepare her for the rigors of the season.
“This year I just focused on staying healthy and making sure that I didn’t get hurt again. It just progressed from there,” said MacElhiney.
Head coach Brian Collins said that along with being a skilled runner, MacElhiney’s dedication to improving has allowed her to flourish as a senior captain.
“She works hard each and every day and puts in the time and effort,” added Collins. “Even the days that she is not at her best, it’s her best effort.”
Prior to GHS, MacElhiney played youth soccer and continued to play the fall of her freshman year. She then joined the indoor track in the winter team, following in the footsteps of her sister, Casey MacElhiney, a 2021-graduate of GHS who is now running cross-country at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.
The younger MacElhiney credits her family and older sister for encouraging her to continuing running. Now the years of hard work is paying off with top finishes this fall.
Along with finishing 5th at the Class LL meet, MacElhiney placed 3rd overall at the Central Connecticut Conference Championship on Oct. 18.
“I never thought I would be able to get up there,” MacElhiney said of the top-five finishes. “It’s a good feeling.”
MacElhiney called the cross-country team at GHS a “second family”
“It’s very encouraging and supportive,” MacElhiney said of the team. “We spend every day together and we know each other well. Even if somebody has a bad day, we all work to support them.”
Last month she posted a personal-best time in the 5k, running a 19:26 at the Ponaganset Covered Bridge Classic in Rhode Island.
MacElhiney is one of a contingent of GHS runners that post similar times, which allows the group to challenge each other in practice at on race day.
“Our coaches push us really hard and we push each other,” said MacElhiney. “We train hard for five or six days a week and we work hard at practice.”
Strauss has been the team’s lead runner the past couple of seasons, but has battled her own injury and missed competition this year.
Collins said that his other runners stepped up in Strauss’ absence, adding, “The leadership by Kelley and the other captains has been a big part of our success this season. These kids have dug down deep.”
Leave a Reply.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin