BSC All-Star Herlihy Has His Breakthrough Season


Here he is coming down the homestretch, beating Natick

Pat Connell

Here he is coming down the homestretch, beating Natick

Walpole Cross Country did not seem destined to achieve greatness at the end of last year’s season. All but one of their top seven varsity runners were graduating, and Anthony DiVirgilio, a junior now and the sole returner of the top seven, had only broken 17 minutes and 20 seconds once in the 5000 meter race.  Then there came Brendan Wohler to run long distance for winter and spring track, and he was the only freshman to break five minutes in the mile. There didn’t seem like much of a chance for the 2012 cross country season if there were no runners to consistently break 17:20 in the 5km race. Someone needed to step up if any success was to be had.

That someone was senior Sean Herlihy. Herlihy had an excellent season this year and was always the first one with a Walpole jersey on to cross the finish line. To end their regular season, on Saturday, October 27, Walpole ran in Norwood for the Bay State Conference league meet. Herlihy ran in the varsity 5k race, and he placed tenth, receiving a pumpkin and acknowledgement as a league all-star for his efforts. He even beat his personal record with a time of 16:43, shaving half of a second off his previous best. Not only was this his previous record, but Herlihy ran it at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds, a course that is notorious for being fast, as in runners’ paragon times for the season are generally run there. This just goes to show that Herlihy continually steps up, which is why he  became a league all-star in the first place.

Previously, Herlihy had been enthralled with a different sport: soccer. During his fall seasons of both freshman and sophomore year, he still ran, except with a ball between his feet. Like most others, he had been playing since elementary school, but he didn’t quit until he started dabbling in his newest passion, running. He ran long distance on both the Indoor and Outdoor track teams before joining Cross Country; however, he did not seem like he could be a contending athlete any time soon. When he ran the 400 meter race as a freshman, the lowest time he achieved was 73.14 seconds. That was on pace to run his current mile PR, 4:54. The distance is more than four times that of the 400m and the 400m is intended to be run considerably faster than the mile. Just by reading the numbers, it is quite obvious Herlihy has come a long way.

Unfortunately, it was the end of the road on Saturday, November 10; when Herlihy, and the rest of the Cross Country team, raced against other teams in the Division III meet at Wrentham. There they faced some stiff competition. Upon being asked about how the team fared then, Herlihy said,”I think we had a good chance of doing well. I looked online, and seeing the other teams we were going to run against, it didn’t seem like they were that much, you know ‘if any’, better than we were. Going into the meet, we were pretty well within reach of moving on to All-States. In a hypothetical race where everyone would run their best times before that, we would have came in second.” Unfortunately, Walpole only came in tenth and needed to be within the top four to advance. They were off of fourth by a large margin of 113 points. As for Herlihy and his running career after high school, he said,”I’m probably going to keep running after high school, in college. I’m not done yet.”