2011-11-17 / News

Island runner takes third place at state championship

BY MARGO SULLIVAN


MELISSA COBLE MELISSA COBLE Jamestown’s Melissa Coble, 15, wrapped up her junior varsity cross-country season with a medal at the state championship on Oct. 29 at Ponagansett High.

Melissa, a North Kingstown High sophomore, finished the 3.1-mile course in third place, after dashing with a pack of runners to the finish line. Her time was 21:04.4, which put her less than a minute behind the secondplace runner and about a nanosecond ahead of Skippers’ teammate Ally Reilly. Reilly came in fourth at 21:04.5, followed by La Salle’s Katie Maiorisi, who grabbed fifth place with a time of 21:04.6. The NKHS JV girls’ cross-country team finished the meet second to La Salle in a field of 18 teams.

That wasn’t even Melissa’s best race, she said. She’s proudest of the freshmen squad she was a part of because the team finished the season undefeated.

But along with all the jubilation, she has overcome adversity to stay in competition, according to her father, Peter Coble of Jamestown. A Junior Olympics’ race a year ago stands out in her mind as her worst moment ever on the track. Her knee gave out on the home stretch, and she fell.

“They said I had to get up,” she said. Her teammates couldn’t help her because they’d be disqualified.

“I tried to get up,” she said. “I limped to the finish.”

Melissa underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee last Christmas to correct a condition that hampers her on the track, and she will go back around Thanksgiving to fix the right knee.

“I’ve had knee problems since I started running,” she said, and surgery is the only option.

“I wouldn’t be getting surgery if I weren’t going to continue [running],” she said.

Melissa, who only started in cross-country two years ago in eighth grade at Davisville Middle School, picked the sport without any influence from her family. Her father said he actually did run cross-country in seventh and eighth grade in Jamestown, but he didn’t push her to follow in his footsteps.

“I kind of decided I wanted to get involved with a sport,” she said. She ruled out basketball right away, she laughed, even though her friend, Kristjana McCarthy, also 15 and of Jamestown, plays on the NKHS girls’ basketball squad.

“I’m not very coordinated,” Melissa said. But although “everyone” makes the cross-country team, she quickly realized she was good at running.

“It just kind of came easy,” she said. “Easier than it was for other people.”

Melissa does like to push her body to the limit. She insists she doesn’t really enjoy the physical effort required in a race, but she keeps going back because she wants to improve.

“It’s not fun,” she admitted. “If you don’t feel like you’re going to die, then you’re not pushing hard enough and running hard enough.”

In ninth grade, she “didn’t do bad in any of the races,” she said. “I realized I was good at it.”

She has the medals to prove it, although she didn’t want to brag. (Kristjana estimated Melissa has about 30 medals – they’re arranged on the music stand in her room, she said.)

“I have a bunch,” Melissa said. They’re the same medals for every race, unless it’s a special invitational she said, but she writes the event and her finish on the back.

Melissa, the daughter of North Kingstown’s Sheri Bolduc, said she’s inspired by stories about other runners and their dedication. For instance, in the miserable weather at the state championship, she considered wearing long sleeves under her jersey and pants to stay warm. That’s allowed, and the extra clothing might have helped, but then she remembered a marathon man who ran in 10-degree below conditions and opted not to wear an extra layer of clothing so he could win the race.

She followed his example.

“They inspire you,” she said, but added that staying in shape and socializing are also reasons she enjoys the team.

“Mostly, I like the team,” she said. “I like the people.”

Besides cross-country, Melissa competes on the outdoor track team. Her events are the 800- and 1,500-meter runs.

She also enjoys forensic science, which she is studying this year at North Kingstown High. Although it’s early to consider careers, she has an interest in forensic anthropology, like the “Bones” television show character, or possibly physical therapy. She had to go for physical therapy last year after her knee surgery and thought the field might be a good choice.

“It seems like a good profession to get into,” she said. She added that her best subjects are math and science, which are both needed for premed classes.

“Of course, I’m very proud of her,” her father said.

He now has two daughters to cheer on because Tiffany, Melissa’s 13-year-old sister, has also started cross-country and track at Davisville Middle School. Melissa inspired her, Tiffany said.

“She’s just so good at it,” she said. “She just makes me proud.”

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