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ALBRIGHT: Every team needs someone like Williamstown’s Brianna Winsett

Williamstown cross country runner Brianna Winsett has accomplished a ton competing on the Yellowjackets’ squad.

She’s contributed to three state championships, she’s an all-stater, and is going to go down in history as a member of the most dominant XC team the school’s ever seen. What a resume, huh?

It all is enough to make anyone forget about the great leader she’s become. And how that willingness to step up might just be the most enduring part of her legacy everyone recalls from her time in a Yellowjackets’ uniform. She’s got the making of someone anyone should want on their team. Plain and simple.

Sure, her character actions don’t loudly scream “Look at what I did” as much as the other accolades, not much else does, but without them, there may not be three state championships. Having someone who is all about the team, well that permeates through to other members. “She’s more of a do-as-I-do leader,” head coach Mike Taylor said.

She sure is.

“Last year on the track in the 4×800, her iron level was really tanked. But if you had seen her working out with the team, you would have never known she had any personal issues,” coach Larry Cassady said when asked for an example. “That is what you want out of a leader. You want someone who is able to put everything else aside and go out there and do the workouts.

“She never complains, never complains. She’s the last one who would want the spotlight put on her.”

Dirty work being more her specialty.

“A lot of time she is in charge of the girls and leads the workouts. She is probably the most fit athlete we have on the team. She does a lot of cross training through the winter with specialists. She just comes to practice and everything is focused on whatever the workout is that night, whether it be a short run, long run, hill training, or interval,” head coach Mike Taylor said.

“Even in situations out of running, if someone needs a ride to practice, she’s there to give you a ride. It is always helpful when you have someone who will help out. And on morning runs where we are by ourselves, she will run with me and always just supports me,” Reagan Ortiz said. It comes in waves, too.

“For races or practices, we may get a “Arms down” or “Lengthen your stride,” things like that. And even if you are having a hard time and your hips are hurting, she tells you to push through and things like that,” she continued.

“Even though she is one of the main runners, she still brings people along like even the sixth, seventh and eighth runners, too,” Brookelyn Reynolds said.

“It wouldn’t be the same without her,” Ortiz said.

No, it certainly wouldn’t.

Without her, the girls won’t have perhaps the best example of perserverance, either. What she accomplished last year in changing up her training routine being one of the best cases of hard work paying off and always being worth it. Her change in approach from running as hard as she can for as long as she can to approaching the race where she could be stronger at the end paid dividends. From 39th place at the state meet in 2019 to 2nd in 2020, those are results no one can argue with.

All of her sacrifices and mentoring have taken hold, too. The Yellowjackets are once again standing on the brink, and Winsett is helping to lead the way with that selfless attitude.

“As long as the team succeeds, that is that quiet humility that she has. We were running at Ritchie County two years ago and they start and go out and come down and go up a hill and I was out counting the girls and I am seeing Brianna,” Cassady said. “And her mom is standing there and it looked like Brianna was going after Ella (Hesson). Her mom said “Larry, the girls got a goal. She set a goal at the beginning of the year, that’s when I knew she was a great leader right at the mile marker and she hasn’t looked back since.”

Where do you sign up for someone like that?

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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