Athlete of the Week: Central freshman Cardoso off to strong start

Jaclyn Cardoso

WOODSTOCK — Jaclyn Cardoso couldn’t have asked for a much better start to her freshman cross country season.

The Central runner placed third last weekend in her third meet of the season, the Eastern Mennonite Invitational.

“I’m a little surprised,” Cardoso said of her season. “It’s been great, though.”

Cardoso, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Athlete of the Week for the week of Sept. 4-10, said she tried to get off to a good start and then was able to pass a few runners along the way in last weekend’s race.

She finished the race in a time of 21:22.

“My adrenaline was really strong and my team was cheering me on,” Cardoso said. “And we were pushing each other.”

Cardoso has a familiar face on the team pushing her this season — fellow freshman Aliyah Kibler.

The pair have been running together throughout middle school and they have been two of Central’s top runners throughout the season.

“I feel like we push each other a lot,” Cardoso said of Kibler. “And it’s fun running with her because I’m close friends with her.”

Cardoso said one thing that helped her in the Eastern Mennonite Invitational was the hills.

“Hills, I do fairly well with them,” Cardoso said. “So I kind of like them, but then I also like flat one’s because they’re eaiser.”

The Falcons finished second as a team in the Eastern Mennonite Invitational and had five runners in the top 24 spots.

Cardoso, Kibler and senior Grace Dellinger have led the way for the Falcons throughout the season, each taking turns leading the team in the races.

In the first meet of the season, the Central Invitational, Cardoso was second on the team and 19th overall (20:48).

She said it’s been a great experience for her so far and her teammates have been very welcoming.

“We’re all really close,” Cardoso said. “We all joke with each other, and its a nice atmosphere.”

Cardoso’s brother, Jonathan, is a runner on the boys team. She also had two older sisters who ran cross country for Central as well.

Jaclyn Cardoso said that her siblings have been a big influence on her and helped push her to success.

Central coach Melissa Wright first saw Cardoso in elementary school and encouraged her to try cross country in middle school. Cardoso said she decided to give it a try and has liked it ever since.

Wright, who is a Physical Education teacher at W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock, said Cardoso has been a great addition to the team.

“As a coach one of the greatest things about her is I don’t think we have even touched her potential,” Wright said. “She continues to improve. I think she’s figuring out running at the high school level. It takes a little time to go from middle school to high school, figure out how to pace yourself.

“She’s always smiling. She seems happy to be here. She works hard. She’s a great kid.”