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New coach helping guide GCC cross country runners

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 11:18 p.m.

It's easy for Greensburg Central Catholic cross country coach Tori Vallana to understand where her runners are coming from.

It was only a few years ago she was in their shoes.

Vallana, 20, is in her first season coaching the Centurions. The Seton Hill student majoring in dietetics was an assistant track coach in the fall before being offered the cross country job. Despite the rigors of being a college student, she knew she had to accept.

“Coaching is something I always wanted to do and when the opportunity came up, I had to take it,” she said.

Vallana said her youth is an advantage in that she understands her runners better because of their age.

“It can be hard sometimes, but I think it makes me more relatable for them,” she said. “I went through what they are going through recently.

“It does give me an advantage. I may not be that experienced at coaching, but I know their mindset and what they want to get out of it. I think I understand where they are coming from more. A lot of coaches only see it at one angle.”

The runners understand that Vallana is in control even though she is young enough to be a peer.

“I'm pretty relaxed with them, but they know when to listen to me and know I'm in charge,” she said.

So far, Vallana has been exactly the coach her runners need.

“She understands we have homework and stuff,” junior Cassie Sauter said.

This marks Sauter's first year on the cross country squad, and the results have been impressive. She won the Centurions Section 4-AA race against Kittanning with a time of 20 minutes, 42 seconds. She took third place at the California (Pa.) University Invitational (21:44) and 21st at the Red, White and Blue Invitational (20:44).

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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