Lynn native Tia Foglietta’s cross country career at Division II Merrimack College didn’t get off to the best of starts. Foglietta, a St. Mary’s graduate, joined the Warriors in 2015 and tore both her calf muscles shortly into her freshman season. There may have been a few doubts through her recovery, but Foglietta stayed the course and believed in herself.
Fast forward to 2018 and Foglietta, now a senior, has played a key role for Warriors women’s team that will compete in Saturday’s NCAA Division II Cross Country National Championships in Pittsburgh, Penn.
“I’ve been racing since I was very little,” Foglietta said. “Although I did other sports growing up, I always found myself coming back toward cross country. I was injured my freshman year and barely raced. To come back healthy and help the team to Nationals for one last ‘hoorah,’ it’s been really amazing.”
This mark’s Merrimack’s second appearance in Nationals in women’s program history. Foglietta pointed to her team’s dedication as one of the key reasons for the historic season.
“We’ve focused on the little things, like rolling out and stretching after a hard workout, eating well, lifting, sleeping,” Foglietta said. “In college there’s a lot of distractions. I feel that we’ve buckled down and gotten our schoolwork done, gotten our runs in. There’s a few of us that have to run at 6 a.m. before class. We’re all really focused and that’s why we got here.
“We’ve all grown together as a team,” Foglietta continued. “It took us a couple years to get to Nationals. We came up just short last year and we made it our mission to get there this year.”
Foglietta owns a trio of top-three finishes this season including runner-up performances at both the Codfish Bowl and Kirsh Cup, where she ran a season-best 18:41.4.
Earlier this month, Foglietta finished eighth overall (22:15.60) at the Northeast-10 Conference Championships and helped lead the Warriors to their best NE10 finish (runner-up) since 1999.
Two weeks ago, she finished 11th (22:43.70) in the NCAA Division II East Regional Championship in Bethpage, N.Y. and earned all-region honors in the process.
Foglietta said none of the success she’s earned during her career would’ve been possible without a strong support system.
“I wouldn’t have gotten here if I didn’t want it or love it,” Foglietta said. “But without support from my friends and family I wouldn’t have been able to withstand the physical and mental demands it takes to make it here.”
A health sciences major with a minor in biology, Foglietta’s set to graduate next May. She credited her friends and family members for helping her manage the demands of being a student-athlete.
“I’m doing very well managing it all,” Foglietta said. “I think it puts a lot of strain on you as an individual. You have to have priorities. You have to recognize that maybe your social life might take a hit because you need to focus on school and getting your runs in. I think it’s important for my friends and family to understand that I have to focus on school and running but everyone’s been super supportive.”
Saturday’s race is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. at Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park.
“We’re all really excited,” Foglietta said. “Once the nerves kick in, it’s a mixture of wanting to get to the starting line and making it happen.”