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ALBRIGHT: It won’t take Williamstown XC runner Alyssa Sauro long to become a household name

Prepare yourselves, Class A and Little Kanawha Conference girls’ cross country teams.

There’s a new Williamstown running queen to worry about. One who’s more than capable of grabbing Ella Hesson’s vacant throne and making it her own. Sorry to Hesson, but now that she’s running at Davis and Elkins, someone needs to take that top spot.

Perhaps, this development shouldn’t be standing out as an important talking point when it comes to the Yellowjackets … the group is chasing after a fifth straight state title, afterall.

Alyssa Sauro’s not just another freshman coming onto the scene, though. Remember, her eventual arrival at the high school level fetched a fairly high amount of conversation and excitement over the last four years. People already knew what she was capable of and what kind of athlete she was in her hometown.

So the hoopla isn’t all that farfetched.

Besides, what else can you really say about a runner who finished 12th in the nation at the 2021 United States Track and Field Cross Country Championships 4K event and earned All-American status? Not much.

Someone finishing among the Top 20 athletes in any field consisting of future Division I runners tends to really stick out. Just having what it takes to compete against the best-of-the-best from around the U.S. leaves very few questions as to how one can perform in West Virginia. Doesn’t it?

And if there are queries, it isn’t like she doesn’t have those covered. She most certainly does.

That isn’t to say her own teammates in Brianna Winsett and Chloe Lightfritz, or Doddridge County’s Lexie Lamb won’t offer stiff competition but …

We’ve already seen what she can do against Hesson herself. Many may not remember, but three years ago in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon Two-Mile race, Sauro led Hesson, who at the time was at the height of her powers in Class A, halfway through the race. She wouldn’t keep the lead, but it was enough to open her eyes to what she could do and the fact that her training was paying off.

So why was that?

Well, former Williamstown girls cross country coach Larry Cassady has a pretty good idea.

“I think Alyssa is on another level because she learned from Ella,” he said. “She watched Ella’s training ethic. Alyssa’s one of those kids who learns visually and what she saw in Ella, I mean, she would get up at 6 a.m., go running then go to work then go running again after work, and I think that caught Alyssa’s attention. She trains on her own. She gets up in the morning at 7 or 7:30 in the morning. So I know she’s learned from Ella.”

And what a valuable lesson it is indeed for this very moment.

“She understands that she’s taking a step up in competition and has to work for whatever she gets,” father Scott Sauro said. “Just because she had little bit of success in middle school doesn’t mean it is going to translate to high school. She’s really got to work hard to make that happen.

“Fortunately she is very much a self-starter and motivated to be the best she can be and doing whatever she can to put her team first.”

Then there’s her attitude toward arriving at a dynasty still looking for more…

“It really doesn’t scare me that the group is going for another championship. It is much more important to me that the team succeed than I succeed,” she said.

And it’s that humbleness and willingness at putting her team first making her even more of a threat. Quite simply, it means, if she needs to go out and blow away the rest of the field, or compete like she’s back in the Bluegrass State running against the nation’s best, she’s OK doing that.

And not very many people stand a chance of stopping her. Especially when she gets older.

As just another taste of her plan to keep getting better as she gets older, Sauro hopes to start training with Class AAA state championship winning runners Tori Starcher and Madison Trippett, along with reigning champion Lea Hatcher.

So, brace yourselves everyone, the future of Class A cross country has a name and it is Sauro.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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