2007-02-01 / News

Brennan makes All-state first team for cross-country

By Adrienne Downing

The phrase "you don't know what you got till it's gone" may seem clichéd in some circumstances, but for North Kingstown High School junior Erin Brennan, it's motivation.

Brennan, whose family moved to Jamestown when she was four, came back from a season-ending cross-country injury in 2005 to earn a spot on the All-State first team in 2006 with a fifth-place, 19:20 finish at the state meet.

"I didn't practice in the summer before my sophomore year because I didn't think I had to, and I ran in my first race of that year and tore my calf muscle," Brennan explained. "That's when I really realized how much it meant to me. It means more to me now when I know what I didn't have, how much I missed it."

Girls' Cross-Country Coach Keven O'Neil also saw the difference the injury made in Brennan.

"She was injured her sophomore year right off the bat, but she came back the next year fired up, ready to go," he said.

She has come a long way from the Lawn school sixth-grader who ran cross-country at her father's suggestion.

"It was easy and it was a fun thing to do, but I was terrible. I wasn't very good," Erin quips.

Her father, Bucky Brennan, had a good reason for suggesting the sport to his daughter, however.

"When they timed them for the mile in school, she would c o m e home and say, I beat everyone e x c e p t these few people and then the next time she came home and said, I beat everyone except one boy," he explained. "That is when I t h o u g h t that she might enjoy running."

After her running time at Lawn was done, she was excited to move onto the Skippers running squad, but admits that she still did not take the sport as seriously as she could have.

"I was getting more serious, but there was one race about halfway through my freshman season where I really tried. My time was good and I thought, "I can do this"," Erin Brennan said.

O'Neil said that although she has always been an incredible athlete, he has seen her mature in the three years she has been on his team.

"She has come a long way since her freshman year. She really has become a team player in the last few years," he noted. Although she was a consistent topfive finisher for the Skippers this year, Brennan humbly credits her coach and teammates for her success.

"Coach O'Neil is the best coach ever. He is so dedicated and he really keeps us motivated," she said. "I listen to exactly what he says."

One of Brennan's best moments this past season came at the state championship meet when teammate Allie Stasiuk turned to greet her at the finish line.

"Our team is so close, when one person does well it pushes the rest of us to do better. When Allie crossed the finish line, she turned around and got the biggest smile on her face that we were all right behind her together," she enthused.

With the loss of several seniors to graduation, Brennan will step up her leadership role as one of the top two runners for the Skippers next season.

"It is really scary to think about them (the seniors) being gone next year, they have meant so much to me," she said.

She won't just be sitting around waiting for next season, though. Currently, she is running the 1500 to 3000 meters on the indoor track team.

"She had a great 3000 meter race and finished with a 10:40 at the Yale Invitational on Saturday. That should rank her in the top three in the state," O'Neil said.

Running is a family affair in the Brennan household. Joining Erin on the indoor team is her younger sister Kate, a sophomore, who is running the hurdles and 1500 meters.

"I like having her on the team. We really are best friends," Erin said.

Both Brennan's father and mother, Mary, have enjoyed watching their daughter and it is easy to see from whom she gets her sense of team.

"We really enjoy going to the meets. The kids involved in it are impressive, a solid, solid group of kids," her parents said. "You really meet a lot of nice people and when you find out who their kid is, you end up cheering for them, too."

The Skippers have big plans for Brennan in her senior year, but those closest to her already see success.

"We are really proud of Erin," her dad concluded. "She made a good recovery and put in a lot of hard work."

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