Salute to Seniors: Mary Brenna Catus (GSA)

Name: Mary Brenna Catus

School: George Stevens Academy

What was your most memorable race?

First, I must confess that I absolutely adore indoor track. So, while there have been many races that I can point to which were either triumphs or teaching moments, and some great races that just felt fantastic because everything seemed to be aligned, internally and externally, my most memorable race was a 400m indoor race against the highly gifted Ashley Anderson. That race, in January of 2017 - even just being able to "hang" with Ashley for 3/4ths of the track - was the turning point for in me considering shorter distance races and discovering that I love mid-distance running.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over the four years?

My high school running career is divided into two parts: I ran for Searsport District High School my freshman and sophomore year, and my closest rivals -- the ladies that really pushed me to be my best - were the powerful ladies from George Stevens Academy: specifically, Eliza Broughton, Zeya Lorio and Mary Richardson. What an amazing experience it was to then become their GSA teammate for my last two years of high school! Over-arching throughout my four years -- which goes without saying -- was the amazing Tia Tardy and the Class C Red Riot Powerhouse of Hannah Steelman, Kassidy Dill and Becky Lopez-Anido. I cannot tell you how excited I am to become Becky's teammate in college!

What was your greatest accomplishment?

I had a really fun senior-year outdoor season (until a fall at State Championships in which I incurred a concussion). Up until the 800m at States, I had an undefeated streak, individually, for the spring season. I'm not gonna lie, winning every race you run feels pretty great. But I think the accomplishments I rejoice in, the most, are those that I achieved with my GSA teammates. Breaking the New Balance Field House HS Record in the 4 x 800m that was previously set by Orono, (and then breaking our own record, again, this past winter), winning the Girls Class C XC State Championship in 2016, winning gold at States in the 4 x 800 hours before I was injured, and all the conference, regional and sportsmanship medals, plaques and banners we brought home in my two years at GSA. For me, the joy of accomplishment is exponentially greater when you get to share it with your teammates.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your xc/track & field career in high school? Well, I wish I could have that 800m race at States back, without a fall and a concussion! And I wish I could have had more than two years to race with my GSA teammates -- truly, those ladies are amazing; it would have been so fun to have had more time together. But overall, I am just grateful for every experience that has helped make me into who I am, today, and I can't wait for college!

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Initially, it was the lack of a team and running partners. Searsport is a really small school and I was the only female distance runner on the track team, so I had no one to train with. I was pretty much on my own all the time. Eventually, I came to value, and take pride in, the fact that I had to be my own motivator. When I transferred to GSA, it was almost sensory overload -- suddenly I had a whole team of powerful, supportive women around me! I also struggled with injuries a lot my first few cross country seasons. Running on uneven surfaces was hard on my body because I had muscle imbalances that I needed to work on. Strengthening those muscle imbalances was so key. I owe a debt of gratitude to certain people who help me recognize why I was getting injured -- tips from Dave Nantkes, and the healing knowledge of Dr. Mike Housman, put me on the path to health and strength.

What will you miss the most?
Have I mentioned that my teammates are amazing? Being accepted into the fold, as a junior-year transfer, at George Stevens, was life altering. (Eliza, Zeya, Mary, Mazie, Bella…each of you are not only fantastic athletes, you are beautiful souls)! I will miss Coach Tony loosing one of my [bright pink!] shoes while he was changing out my spikes, and how he enlisted, via the loudspeaker, the entire school in finding it. I will miss racing on the powder blue, banked, track at UMO's field house. And, although I enjoy track more than XC, I will miss the craziness and hype of the Festival of Champions -- there's nothing like the FOC! What advice would you give to younger athletes? Never. Give. Up. Forget about who you are racing against, strive to just be the best self you can be. Celebrate PRs! And remember that it is low-aim that is the crime, not failure.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?
Never. Give. Up. Forget about who you are racing against, strive to just be the best self you can be. Celebrate PRs! And remember that it is low-aim that is the crime, not failure.

What are your college plans?

I am headed to Wesleyan University, where I will join several dynamo Maine runners in representing the Cardinals, year around, in Div III. Fortunately, this also means that I will get to see two of my GSA teammates at NESCACs, as Eliza Broughton will be running for Middlebury and Mary Richardson will be competing for Bates.

Who would you like to say thank you to?

When people talk about running, they often talk about "the running community". And it's true -- I am beyond grateful to be in a sport that is automatically linked with the word "community"; it takes a village. I am so appreciative to have had the Sub5 community, for instance, as part of my growth as a runner. But wait, let me back up and begin with the most obvious: my mom. Thanks, Mom, for forgiving me for not being a swimmer, like you were, and being my biggest (and loudest!) fan. Thank you to my Auntie Tara who registered me for my first 5K and who ran with me in many subsequent 5Ks, thereafter. Thank you, as well, to my "Uncle Ry" who first taught me a thing or two about running, when I was starved for guidance and information. Thank you to the coaches in Belfast who coached me for one middle school track season (6th grade) and whetted my appetite for running. Thank you to Dave Nantkes for recognizing what was overlooked by so many others. Thank you to Mary Cady for actually announcing my name correctly because it's so close in pronunciation to her own. Thank you to the incredible coaches at the Dick Fosbury Track Camp for the mind-blowing clinics, and for teaching me how to really stretch. And thank you to all my teammates, and all the competitors, for whom I have a great affinity - I am so privileged to call so many, from so many different teams, my friends.

Is there anything else you would like to add? I wish you all "Cool Runnings" - Peace be the journey

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