2017 Boys Cross Country Coach of the Year: Central’s Wright leads Falcons to successful season

Melissa Wright

WOODSTOCK – Central had another strong season in boys cross country, and coach Melissa Wright said much of team’s success started with its seniors.

The group of six seniors, led by Mason and Sawyer Lucy-Speidel and Gus Wightman, were great leaders vocally and by example, according to Wright.

“This group of seniors are just young men of great character and leadership,” Wright said. “And while they haven’t all been there the entire four years they definitely, in their time here, they stepped up to that role. And I definitely thought last year, and even more so this year, we as coaches had it pretty easy on a lot of different levels.”

Wright said that she never had to worry about her kids acting out or talking when she as trying to talk. Wright said the seniors did a great job just leading the way for the younger runners on the team.

Wright, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2017 Boys Cross County Coach of the Year, said that she often got compliments from other schools about how well-mannered her team was. Wright said she has heard good things from some of the parents of runners on her team.

“I keep having compliments coming to me from the freshman class parents,” Wright said. “I don’t think they’ve been involved in such a program or sport yet in their lives, that they’ve just been so impressed with how the seniors took care of the freshman kids and were very, very grateful.”

The Falcons finished as state runners-up the last two years, and Wright said the expectations were high again this season. Central placed third in the Class 2 state meet and finished second in the Region 2B meet. The Falcons won the Bull Run District meet.

Wright said she knew early in the season they would have a good season when the Falcons placed fifth in the Albemarle Invitational early in the season.

One of the highlights of the season was having a perfect score in the Shenandoah County meet. Central’s Anthony Piselli came up big in the meet, by running fifth for the team when the Falcons were without one of its top five runners.

“Anthony Piselli stepped up,” Wright said of the Shenandoah County meet. “He had not been running up in that fifth spot all season, and he made it look pretty good that day. So that was good.”

While the Falcons were led by the seniors, they also had some strong performances from some of the younger runners on the squad. Sophomore Chase Rimel saved his best for last this season, by finishing 13th in the Class 2 state meet.

“Watching him run last year at the state meet to this year was a huge jump,” Wright said of Rimel. “Last year at the state meet he was kind of running a little shy and timid and looking around to see what was going on. And I think this year he had more purpose with his running. He definitely stepped it up. He had a great year.”

Wright said, led by runners such as Rimel and Piselli, she thinks the Falcons can still have another solid year next season. Wright said she’s hopeful that the younger runners have learned from the seniors and will keep the strong tradition going.

Wright said she also had a lot of help coaching from assistants Ben Snarr and Teresa Martilik and especially Larry Bullock.

“This award should go to Larry Bullock,” Wright said. “I feel like we are co-coaches in every aspect. And his wisdom and his positive influence he has on these kids is tremendous. I think of all of us as a team — the coaches, the kids and the parents and the school. There’s no one individual that makes this thing operate by itself and it takes a lot of people to make it very successful.”