For Julianna Kennedy, nothing is better than closing out a victory.
Kennedy is a key member of Andover track’s 4x400 meter relay that is the defending Massachusetts Division 1 indoor champion.
And as the final event of most every major track meet, Kennedy has had the chance to lock down a few huge victories for the Golden Warriors’ powerhouse track squad.
“My favorite event is the 4x400 because of the thrill of the event,” she said. “There have been so many times when the meet comes down to the 4x4 since it’s the last event, and I know I have to step up and run my best even if it’s my third race of the day. It can be really stressful sometimes but it feels great to know that I’m doing it for the team.”
Kennedy has delivered plenty for Andover, and not just on the track.
The senior is coming off stellar soccer season, which saw her move from her natural position of forward to defensive midfield due to injures on the team.
But the Trinity College soccer and track recruit still managed to score seven goals this fall despite the increased workload, and earned All-MVC Division 1 honors. Now she has turned her attention to track.
“I love both sport,” said Kennedy. “I think that track has been a big part of helping me progress as a soccer player. Over the years I’ve gotten stronger and faster which has helped my game in a huge way. I think that the two sports really compliment one another.”
ON THE PITCH
A four-year varsity letterman in soccer, Kennedy had played forward for three seasons, scoring a pair of goals as a junior.
But this fall, after the Golden Warriors were hit by injuries, coach Meghan Matson asked her to take on a new role.
“I have played forward for most of my career and will be playing it in college,” Kennedy said. “I never played defense before this season, but I played as a defensive player due to an injury on our team. When I started playing a more defensive midfield position I helped create opportunities on the attack and tracked back to stop fast forwards on the opposing teams.”
But that didn’t mean Kennedy didn’t find the back of the net. She still tied for the team-high with seven goals —including a memorable game-winner in the final minute against Haverhill.
“It was really exciting to score in the last minute because we played really hard and I knew that the game was coming down to that last play,” she said. “It was a huge win for us so it was great to help my team pull off the win.”
Kennedy earned All-MVC and All-EMass.
“She’s extremely fast and skilled,” said Matson. “She played almost every minute of every game for us.”
ON THE TRACK
Kennedy’s speed is especially apparent on the track.
In indoor track, she won the Division 1 state title in the 600 meter last winter, in 1:35.40. Last outdoor season, she was fifth at the EMass Division 1 meet in the 400 in 59.83.
“The 400 and 600 are pretty difficult because they’re long sprints,” she said. “The 600 is a tough event because it’s hard to get the pacing just right, but it’s a combination of speed and endurance, which is my strength. The 400 is also a difficult race because you have to stay at a fast speed throughout the whole race.”
But Kennedy is never better than in relays.
She is a member of the 4x400 relay that won the Division 1 title (4:03.81) and was second at All-States (3:58.18) last winter.
She also runs on the 4x800, which won the EMass. Division 1 title (9:32.26) last outdoor season. She was also a member of the sprint medley relay that placed fourth in the emerging elite division at New Balance Outdoor Nationals (4:08.53).
“I think that I have had success in relays because I always want to do well for my teammates,” she said. “I think that our relays are so successful because we work hard together at practice with a winning mindset.”
Next fall, Kennedy is headed to Trinity. And she is thrilled to compete in soccer and track.
“I’ve played soccer my whole life and have always wanted to play college soccer,” she said. “I just started track freshman year to stay in shape during the offseason, but then I ended up loving it. I couldn’t decide between the two sports. While juggling track and soccer practices, meets and games during the winter and spring, I’ve really learned how to manage my time and get my school work done. I think will help to prepare me for college.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.