Athlete Name: Alena Sapienza-Wright
School: duPont Manual
What was your most memorable meet and why?
Nike Cross Nationals was magical. I ran the slowest race of my life, but it was the best race of my life. I was inspired to train harder by the shear number of high-level athletes that surrounded me. I realized that one person will never be the best, but one can always be better.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
There are many amazingly talented girl cross country/track athletes in our state. Thank you all for running with me through many hard races!
Shout out to my teammate Kathleen Simms in particular! I have loved getting in know you this past season and can not wait to run fast together this spring!
Out of all of your high school accomplishments which stands out the most and why?
Playing a part in building Manual's Cross Country and Track programs into the dominant programs they are today statewide (and nationally?!) is my accomplishment that stands out the most. I am proud to say that I have helped to ingrain a passion for the sport and a strong work ethic into the student-athletes.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
I would go to bed earlier! Sleep is just as important as training is for an athlete. Like Holman says, what do 91% and 98% have in common? They are both A's. I have had to learn the right balance between school and athletics over these last four years.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Running through my annual bouts of bronchitis, as well as iron deficiencies in my junior year have been the most difficult obstacles for me to overcome. I have learned that ignoring an illness is not the answer. It is not a sign of weakness to go to the doctor (however, I still very much dislike going to the doctor).
What will you miss the most?
I am going to miss being a member of Manual Cross Country. I have fallen in love with the team and my teammates. Freshman year, I suddenly had 50+ big brothers and sisters. Even now, when our team has grown to almost 90 runners, I feel a connection with every individual. Runs with the guys and the girls are always the highlights of my school days. I would not be the person I am today if it was not for them.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Be humble. Put your team before yourself. Remember that people do not care about you.
People don't notice you; they notice how you treat others and the relationships you develop with those surrounding you.
This may sound a bit cynical. On a lighter note, SMILE even through the hard-days :)
What are your post-high school or college plans?
I will be attending and running for Vanderbilt University next school year!!! Go 'Dores!!!
I am thankful to the coaching staff there for giving me this academic and athletic opportunity.
Who would you like to say thank you to?
Thank you to Coach Holman and Coach Bickel for being amazing teachers of the sport, and of government/politics and english respectively. Thank you to Coach Kuntz for being full of grit. Thank you to my family. Thank you to Niko for giving me put-downs when I need them, and mom for her constructive criticism ✌️ (She hates when I say that). Thank you to my teammates for cheering me on and challenging me. Thank you to Mr. Mayes and Mr. Zuberer for your all's support of the programs.
Thank you to Manual High School! It's a one-of-a-kind place!