Cannon Makes a Great Debut on the Trails
Sophomore Julia Cannon enjoyed an excellent debut campaign as a member of the Sacred Heart cross country squad. Julia earned All-Conference and All-State honors, in addition to winning her team’s MVP Award. (Photo courtesy of Julia Cannon )
North Haven resident recently Julia Cannon finished her first season competing for the cross country team at Sacred Heart Academy (SHA) as a sophomore. While this was only her first season in the sport, Julia made a huge impact by taking first place at a couple of marquee meets on her way to collecting a few major accolades.
Julia started training in March with the idea of joining the SHA outdoor track team, but the spring season was canceled due to COVID-19. However, with all the miles that she had previously put in, including running in the New Haven Road Race, Julia decided to test her mettle and join SHA’s cross country squad.
“The previous year, I had done field hockey in the fall. As a team, we ran the New Haven Road Race. That’s when my passion for running just came,” Julia says. “I just really enjoyed the race and running long distance.”
Julia’s teammates and coaches welcomed her with open arms as she transitioned from field hockey to cross country. At each practice and every meet, Julia’s colleagues were always there to push her to her potential and help her become a better runner.
On Nov. 4, Julia hit the trails to compete at the SCC’s postseason meet. This year, the SCC held four divisional championships and then used the performances from those meets to determine the overall standings for the conference. Julia ran a personal-best time of 20 minutes and 42 seconds to claim first place at the SCC Division C Championship and finish fourth in the SCC. Six days later, Julia ran at the Lauralton Classic Invitational and won the event by clocking in with a time of 21:28—nearly two minutes faster than the next finisher.
Julia says that her confidence started to grow as the season went on. With a few first-place performances, Julia started to realize just how much success she could see as a runner.
“It definitely gave me a lot more confidence. I would doubt myself before the races, because there were so many great runners that I would compete against,” says Julia. “It has taught me to stick with it when you’re getting tired in the race. You just want to power through to the end. Getting all the recognition that I did is something I never thought I would get. I’m really grateful.”
For her performance on the season, Julia made the All-SCC First Team, earned All-State honors, and was also named SHA’s Most Valuable Player. SHA finished the year with a record of 10-2, won the SCC Division C title, and came in third place for the SCC standings at the championship meet—the best performance in team history.
Head Coach Pat Redding could see early on that Julia was a talented runner. Redding says that having Julia on this year’s team set a great example of what everyone on the club should be striving for.
“It was pretty obvious that she had a great engine. She was always leading the pack in our workouts. She is a hard worker. She is very dedicated and very driven,” Redding says of Julia. “Julia was the starting point, and all the girls tried to follow in her footsteps. She was at the top of the ladder, and everyone is climbing trying to get to her. All the other girls really thrived with having her there.”
Aside from cross country, Julia is also a member of the SHA girls’ basketball team. She had competed in North Haven’s recreational and travel leagues before joining SHA’s program. While cross country and basketball are two completely different sports, Julia has learned a lot from both of them and is able to take skills from the court and apply them on the course.
“When I started my training, I wanted to not only get in better shape for outdoor track, but to improve for basketball. I started running for a mile and then added on to that. It started my love for cross country,” says Julia. “The speedwork we do in basketball definitely helps a lot when it comes to running. In basketball practice, you’re always pushing with the drills and then doing sprints. It’s similar to running a race and pushing it over that last minute in a race.”
Going forward, Julia plans on doing both outdoor track and cross country at SHA. Julia is motivated to become the best runner she can be and wants to continue trimming her times throughout the rest of her career.
It only took one season for Julia to make her mark on the trails. Julia loves that challenges that come with running cross country and takes great satisfaction in pushing past them.
“I just love the idea that it’s tough to run. It’s tough to have the motivation to run, especially for the amount of time and miles that cross country runners do,” Julia says. “It’s really pleasing to know that I have that motivation and passion to want to run. I’m just happy I have that mentality to keep running and keep pushing. Rising above that challenge is what I love the most about cross country.”