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SENIOR WEEKS: Villa Maria’s Nunag hope luck of (future) Irish is on her side

Coming into the spring track season, Villa Maria senior runner Anna Nunag was anticipating a stellar campaign, and so was her coach, Hurricane head track coach Maggie Brill.

“This year’s training and racing have been really coming together for Anna and things were clicking,” said Brill. “Going into the outdoor season I was 100 percent certain that Anna was going to not only going to qualify for Districts in the 400 meter run, but also give it a run for States. It’s difficult to process that all of this might not happen anymore.

Villa Maria’s Anna Nunag.

“I have been coaching for 20 years at the collegiate and high school levels and athletes like Anna are very rare. She is a complete package of what coaches are looking for. She is a hard worker, not just in practice, but she does all the extras that coaches always talk about. She is self-motivated, incredibly driven, always responsible and humble which makes her a dream to coach. She is a natural leader and always thinks about the team first and that’s a rare thing, especially with high school track and field athletes.

“But in sports, just like in life, there is no certainty that your work with guarantee you a certain outcome – but you still do it because you love the process.”

Nunag has certainly enjoyed the process, as she has played a key role in Villa Maria winning the conference title the past two years. As a sophomore, she was the Hurricanes’ anchor in the conference championship’s final event, the 4×400 relay, and at the time Villa Maria was tied for first place. Nunag crossed the finish line first to give the Hurricanes the conference title.

“There is a video of my teammates cheering me on the entire lap until I crossed the finish line first,” said Nunag. “I think it’s my favorite video on my phone.”

Nunag has run in the Penn Relays since fourth grade, and in 8th grade, her CYO Cadet girls’ team finished first overall in the 4×100.

“I remember holding onto that famous plaque the entire train ride home,” said Nunag.

Last winter, during the indoor track season, Nunag qualified for the Meet of Champions in the 400 meter run.

“I came into this spring season with such a positive attitude, because I feel like I’m on track to be in the best shape I’ve ever been in,” said Nunag. “That, I think, has been the hardest part about the season being put on hold.

“When I first heard our principal announce over the loudspeaker at the end of the day two weeks ago, I was more in disbelief than sad that my senior track season was going to be cut short. We still had practice the day it was announced we were not going to be returning to school for a while. I remember the feeling hit me more in the locker room, walking in and seeing my teammates because I knew I was going to miss seeing them every day. It was weird to think that just that Monday, it was a perfect, hot day and I was blaring music over the track’s speakers to help motivate us through our speed workout; and now the week was ending with so many unknowns.”

During the past couple of weeks, Nunag continues to train, and to be hopeful.

“Since school and team practices have been cancelled, I have pretty much kept the same training routine as if nothing has changed, and doing the workouts my coach, Maggie Brill, has sent the team to do on our own. The track workouts, the lifting, and the long recovery runs have given me something to occupy all this free time with, but I am definitely using these days to keep working on my strength and speed. I really do still have hope that I will have some sort of senior track season before I graduate from Villa Maria. I do not know what this season will look like, but I want to be race ready when we finally do return.”

Her teammates also remain hopeful of a return to action.

“We have kept in touch with the team GroupMe, sending pictures of us doing our workouts and talking about all the things we have planned for the day we get back to practice,” said Nunag. “I hope that after this is all over, that at the very least, I will get the chance to have one more practice at the Villa track with my team.

“If my senior outdoor season is ultimately canceled due to the current circumstances, I will definitely be bummed about the potential things I could have accomplished, but I will still have a sense of closure from the things I have already accomplished and the teammates I have gotten to know these past 3 1/2 track seasons.”

In the fall, Nunag will attend University of Notre Dame, where she will major in biochemistry. An all-around student at Villa Maria, she is a member of the National Honor Society, and is an executive for the school’s service group, Mission and Ministry. She is also one of the leaders of the school’s Student Integrity Committee, and she writes for the school newspaper. A three-sport athlete at Villa Maria, she played soccer in the fall, ran indoor track in the winter, and hopes to resume her track season for the Hurricanes this spring if the schools re-open.

Brill said, “I hope that Anna is proud of herself in how far she has come as a runner, because our entire coaching staff is.”

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