By Christopher Hunt
North Shore senior Brianna Welch, one of the top middle distance runners in the state since middle school, has verbally committed to compete at Duke University next year. She chose the Blue Devils after narrowing her choices to Duke, Virginia and Columbia.
Welch said once she mapped out the pros and cons on paper, her list made Duke the clear choice. She liked her potential teammates. Welch has family that lives close by the Durham campus and Welch said associate head coach Kevin Jermyn assured her that she wouldn’t have to move up in distance. Welch has been known as an 800 and 1500-meter runner her entire scholastic career.
“The weather, my family, the coach has had a lot of success with 800 and 1500 runners,” Welch said. “It just worked.”
Jermyn had also coached Shannon Rowbury, a nine-time all-American at Duke and a 1500-meter bronze medalist at the summer’s World Championships in Berlin. Jermyn was also an all-American 1500 runner at Georgetown and a standout at Tottenville High in Staten Island, where in 1993 in won the boys high school mile at the Millrose Games and the national 2-mile championship. For Welch, Duke seemed someplace familiar.
“That’s why I’m excited that I’ll be going someplace that’s not out there,” she said. “I’m excited to start over. Hopefully I’ll be healthy and keep getting better.”
Welch discovered a stress fracture in her right foot her sophomore year. Then struggled with a hip injury most of last year and missed most of this cross country season with shin splints. Welch did run at the state championships Saturday, and finished 34th overall in Class B in 19:16.6 despite falling on the slick, muddy course in the last half mile. North Shore placed third as a team.
“It’s been annoying but I’m happy I’m sticking with it,” Welch said of the injuries. I’m just trying to be positive. I still have time. It’s not like my high school career is over. I still have indoor and outdoor track. I have not given up. I’m not planning on that. This cross country season I was flipping out.”
Welch said she cross trained twice a day when
she wasn’t able to run and has been back to running for the last two weeks.
“I’m pretty excited,” she said. I feel the best I’ve felt in four years. I’m just excited to get out there and see what kind of times I can run.”
Reach Christopher Hunt at email@example.com