SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Freshman Jamie Connelly of the Converse Cross Country and Track and Field teams has been named the 2017-18 Converse Valkyries Rookie of the Year. Connelly turned in a brilliant first campaign for the Purple and Gold, improving her marks throughout the entire season en route to being not only the best freshman in Conference Carolinas, but also in the top-38 in all of Division II.
In a recent interview with the standout Connelly said, "Freshman year of college is really different than all of high school. I looked at everything as a step higher for both my sports and school work. I prepared over the summer by doing all my training and during the school year by studying and practicing. I had to put forth all my effort into everything I did, to get results that I wanted."
That hard work and dedication paid off for Connelley as she was the top varsity runner during the cross country season and led the Valkyries as the number one runner during numerous competitions on the year. Her efforts earned her Valkyrie of the Week honors on three differnet occasions over the course of the season.
Connelly impressed her coaches on a regular basis and it started at the JDL New Year's Kickoff Invitational where she won the 3,000m race, beating several Division I schools in the process. Her time in the event shattered a four-year school record by more than 20 seconds.
Since joining Converse, Jamie has shaved an unprecedented two minutes off her time in the 5k race, while qualifying for conference in that event as well as the mile race. During the outdoor track season she continued her impressive performance by winning her heat on the 5k at the Coastal Carolina Spring Break Invitational, once again defeating many higher D-I runners.
Connelly gives credit to her high school soccer coach for her recent success. "My soccer coach, is a huge role model for me in the athletic world. She coached me from 7-12th grade and really supported me as an athlete. She always taught me to never say I can't, because I really can. I am thankful that she taught me this and I used it so many times this year!"
Jamie not only excelled on the track, but in the classroom as well, finishing the year with a 3.71 GPA on her way to being named a member of the Dean's List.
"Next year I'm excited to just run again! I am excited to run more races and work hard to bring my times down even more, and score more points (or less in cross) for my team. I am excited to help welcome new teammates, and show them that it's really fun to work hard", she concluded.
Coach Cord Sgaglio had this to say about Connelly. "Throughout the year Jamie has continued to improve her marks, so far dropping an unheard of two minutes in the 5,000m. To be running sub-19 in the event as a freshman is truly and accomplishment."