Keene State College junior and sprint/mid-distance runner Brittany Gravallese has done nothing but excel in her athletic ability.
Going from holding KSC school records in relays, Gravallese has now won her first-ever individual 800-meter run.
This past weekend, Gravallese set a personal record of 2:23 at the Little East Conference (LEC) that led to her winning by .23 seconds in the 800-meter race.
She said that she was a bit worried when she first started off because she ran a little too fast. “It was pretty close. I wanted it really bad because I knew my seating was really high so I wanted to live it up to that expectation,” Gravallese said.
Gravallese holds KSC records in the 4×2 sprint relay (four people running 200 meters in relay) and the 4×8 middle distance relay (four people running 800 meters in relay). She said it’s an honor to hold titles like these.
“It’s special to us to see Brittany come on and take over the mantel for us as our best 800 [meter] runner,” KSC Women’s Track and Field Coach Tom Pickering said.
She’s willing to participate in any event at any time if it means helping the team out. He said she has run multiple times in her career; The 4×2, the open 800, the 4×8 and the 4×4 (four people running 400 meters in relay). “That’s a lot of races in a short period time and she does well,” Pickering said.
Pickering explained since Gravallese runs cross country in the fall, she falls under a special group that works on sprints but also a bit of distance. “She practices with the long sprints group but then she races at 400 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters which are long sprints and middle distance so she practices with runners that are also running 400 through 800’s,” he said.
Pickering said the 800-meter race is the event for her. “It’s the one she has raced the most in big meets and I think it’s probably the one that at this point in her career she has the most potential,” he said.
“She’s grown a lot in terms of her stamina from running cross country and that’s really helped with the season as she’s gained speed through the track workouts,” Pickering said. He added Gravallese’s competitive side comes out as the seasons pass. Pickering said Gravallese’s teammates look up to her because she is fearless in meets.
Gravellese said running cross country has helped build her stamina which helps her in the 800 meter race, but she prefers track and field because of the fast paced nature of the sprints.
“I definitely try to stay on pace with each lap and the 800 is a very hard race for me and I think it’s one of the hardest events in track so I just keep strong mentally that I have to push through the next one and not get boxed in by others,” she said.
Having the 800 meter race being her main event gives her a lot of pressure.
She knows she can do well in it so she feels like she has a standard to run up too.
Gravallese wants to break her time of 2:23 at the New England Division III Championship.
Assistant coach Nick Athanasopoulos has been the one that’s been working with Gravallese more.
He explained she’s a very diverse athlete and she’ll do anything you ask her to do.
“She can go anywhere from the 200 meter up through a mile if you ask her to. It good to have that type of diversity,” he explains.
He said she’s the person she is because of the time and effort she puts in.
Pickering and Athanasopoulos agreed that Gravallese never complains, never misses a practice and she never makes excuses.
Gravallese practices Monday through Friday and on Sunday’s she goes for a run with other people on the team even though she’s not obligated too. It’s not mandatory.
Gravallese said she loves track and field because of the team’s mentality.
“It’s different being on a team sport like a part of a soccer team, it’s a different dynamic. Although you have your individual times, your individual performance, and you have your relays — you’re always cheering people on in their events,” Gravallese said.
Gravallese said her friends on her team are her biggest supporters.
She explained she could always go to her parents if she’s ever feeling down.
However, her parents can’t relate to her as much as her friends who play the sport can.
“They’ve been there and give me the confidence,” she said.
Gravallese said she switched from soccer to track and field in middle school because her father noticed how much she loved to run. Since then, she hasn’t stopped.
When Gravallese first came here she did not know what to expect.
She did not know where she would stand with the team.
“I didn’t know if I would be last or in the middle so not just feeling out the competition but how people on my team were doing,” she said.
The next meet is the New England’s in Springfield.
Pickering has high expectations for Gravallese.
“I think she has a chance to run a personal best in the open 800 which would be very exciting and I think that we have a very good chance to run our fastest in the 4×4 of this season as well so I’m looking for her to lead the group and run her best of the season,” he said.
Adriana Sanchez can be cotacted at firstname.lastname@example.org