Massachusetts Cross-Country Runners To Watch: Grace Connolly, Natick High

Grace Connolly, Natick High

The Red Hawks' junior was simply dominant last year as a tenth-grader. We are not expecting much to change this fall on the trails. Connolly claimed the Division I crown in 2016 by nearly a minute with a time of 18:27 over a difficult five-kilometer terrain at the Gardner Municipal Golf Course. She posted her PR of 17:46.03 to win the Eastern State Meet at Wrentham, site of this year's All State Finals. Connolly also won the Championship race at the Ocean State Invitational (see photo above) and broke the tape at the Bay State Invitational. But her most impressive race of the season was one she actually didn't win. She placed ninth overall at the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego where she earned All-American status with a time of 17:50.09. We're expecting big things from the Natick standout, who also had a splendid indoor and outdoor track and field season last year, winning state titles and posting fast times of 10:41 for two miles and 4:52 for the mile. The latter secured another All American placement with a sixth-place effort at the New Balance Nationals in March. Don't be surprised if Connolly gets her 5K time down in the low 17-minute range by the time the season ends. She will certainly have plenty of chances at Wrentham, which will host a number of meets that she will be competing in this season. Foot Locker should be interesting, too.