Senior Grace Hanratty of Old Saybrook has developed into one of the state’s top middle distance runners and Old Saybrook coach Pete Capezzone hasn’t been surprised by her success in the 1000 meters in the indoor track season or the 800 in the outdoor season.
“When I saw her as a freshman, I saw back then that she certainly had the ability to progress and get better,” Capezzone said. “She showed both natural ability and a strong work ethic early on.
“She has gone on to make a huge impact not only on the team but the program as a whole with school records in the indoor season in the 4x800 relay, 600, 800, 1,000 and 1600. In the outdoor season her school records include the 400 and 800.”
The last girls indoor track season was an impressive one for Hanratty. At the National meet, she was 16th in the 800 meter Emerging Elite division (2 minutes, 17.32 seconds) and at the New England meet she won the 1000 (2:56.29). At the CIAC State Open she won the 1000 (2:58.14) and at the Class S meet won the 1000 in 2:58.03.
She followed that up in the outdoor season by winning the 800 at the State Open in 2:12.33 and the Class S meet(2:14.38).
“When I actually first came to high school, I thought I would be more of a cross country, long distance runner,” Hanratty said. “But as I progressed through the years as a runner, I began to realize that middle distance was more my thing.
“I have always loved running and competing, but I never realized I could be competitive at the state level until last year. I was confident in my training, but very surprised when I won the 1000 title at the New England meet.”
Hanratty’s ability hasn’t gone unnoticed nationally. She was recruited by several colleges and has committed to run at Clemson University.
Running also is part of the Hanratty family. Her twin brother Luke Hanratty also competes as a middle distance runner for the Rams. Last indoor season, Luke Hanratty was third in the 600 (1:27.48) and ran a leg of the winning 4x800 relay that won in 8:22.90.
“I believe my success has been a combination of hard work, great coaching by my coaches Jan Merrill and Pete Capezzone and some natural athletic ability,” Grace Hanratty said. “Success has also been the result of the support from my awesome teammates and my family.
“My brother has always been a big motivator for me. We are able to hold each other accountable and keep each other in a positive mindset.”
Capezzone said on the track Grace Hanratty’s success comes from her competitive starts and solid finishes with “her very strong late kick.”
“Her success really comes from a combination of things,” Capezzone said. “She came here with the tools to work with and has worked hard to get better. Her great relationship with our distance coach Jan Merrill is another factor for her success.”
Capezzone sees Grace Hanratty as another strong contender in the 1000 this season. He also said don’t count her out in other events in the indoor or outdoor seasons ranging from the 400 to the 1600.
“I plan on treating my final two seasons (indoor and outdoor) just like I have any other,” Grace Hanratty said. “I plan on staying disciplined and positive throughout my training and plan on racing hard and competitive. I hope to PR in my events and race competitively in the state and regional level. I plan on focusing on the 1000 and 800, but I would also like to race some competitive 600s and 1600s.”
While Hanratty is focused on the current indoor and upcoming outdoor seasons, she is excited about committing to Clemson and taking her talent to the next level.
“I believe that going to a school like Clemson, that far away from home and family, would be an adjustment for any high school athlete,” Capezzone said. “I am hopeful that she will enjoy Clemson and progress there as well.”