By Chloe Adam
LoCoSports Staff Writer
Leesburg (December 27, 2015) – Tuscarora High School senior Mariam Kolbai has decided to continue her running career at Christopher Newport University starting the 2016-2017 academic year.
“It’s so incredibly exciting! I get four more years of doing what I absolutely love and being able to push myself to new limits every day,” Kolbai said. “It’s also definitely nice to be able to breathe, knowing where I am going and that my plans for next fall are secure so that I can focus on my next step towards graduation, enjoy the rest of senior year and this upcoming track season in the spring.”
Christopher Newport University a 260-acre school with about 5,000 students located in Newport News. With more than 80 areas of studies, Christopher Newport University is now listed No. 18 among regional universities in the South and No. 7 among public regional universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report.
The Christopher Newport women’s track and field team is coming off an impressive 2014-2015 season in which the women swept the Capital Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor championships. Coach Matthew Barreau – in his fourth year as the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach – has guided the Captains to five cross country championships.
“I came down to the campus in early December and spent a day with the team. When I hung out with a few of the teammates and watched practice, the entire team dynamic was incredibly similar to how my high school team is run and how we interact as one large unit. All the girls and few guys that I met were so inviting and nice!” Kolbai said. “Coach Barreau really helped put into perspective the competitive edge of the team and the amount of improvement that is attainable which really motivated me. Academically and athletically, Christopher Newport University simply felt like the overall best fit for me and all my needs, it felt like home.”
Kolbai started off her cross country season placing 44th in the Great Meadows Invitational (21:20) and concluding her season placing 32nd in the VHSL 5A state cross country championships (20:39). Her personal records include 2:42.41 in the 800-meter; 6:13.88 in the 1600-meter; 11:41.41 in the 3000-meter; and 19:56.00 in the 5K for cross country.
“Coach [Troy] Harry and Rebecca Puterio have both influenced me the most as a runner,” the 5-foot-9 runner said. “They have not only trained me into becoming the runner I am today, but have also taught me the most important life lessons that I still carry with me today. They have taught me about mental toughness and have taught me to love the sport as well. During all runs and all workouts they are both there pushing us to go faster or to catch up with the pack ahead; it’s rare to see them standing off to the side. Their selflessness and support inspires me to give back and coach when I’m older so I can have the same impact on other runners that they did on me.”
Harry is in his sixth year of coaching cross country at Tuscarora and is also the head coach for the Huskies girls track and field team. This season Harry has already committed three distance runners from his squad including Kolbai, fellow CNU-commit Gillian King and Virginia Tech commit Fitsum Seyoum.
”Our girls cross country team at Tuscarora has truly come the farthest and proven to be one of the top sports at our entire school.” Kolbai said. “This past year we had around 100 kids on our team who came out every day to practice, rain or shine, with some of the best attitudes. I’m so excited to see their future success.”
The Tuscarora girls cross country team won the VHSL 5A North region championship and won their second straight VHSL 5A state championship this year.
The Tuscarora track season kicks off on March 28 at the Wildcat Invitational.