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Sammamish runner a quiet storm on course | Prep sports feature
For her first two years as a runner at Sammamish High School, Pascale De Sa E Silva didn't much believe in slowing down.
She entered her freshman season with only limited running experience and the thought of overtraining never crossed her mind. While that philosophy served her well in competition, it also caused her to miss hitting her optimal performance at the right time in the season.
"I didn't know a lot about myself as a runner," she said. "I tended to peak early and then crash."
If her finishes at the past two state meets are any indication, an improved action plan could be a problem for the rest of the field in 2013.
De Sa E Silva has been in the top-25 in each of her two seasons as a prep runner, finishing 25th in Class 3A as a freshman before ending last year's 2A meet in 14th place. She won the KingCo championship meet last year as well after finishing second in that race as a freshman and said those experiences coupled with her work alongside the Sammamish coaching staff has her primed for even faster times this season.
"I have learned it is really important to listen to coaches," she said. "It is really tempting to run really high mileage and they are used to seeing people do that."
Protecting herself from overtraining has been one of the areas where De Sa E Silva has grown the most over her prep career and Totems' girls coach Megan Oberweiser said her determination on the course and during training is a key to not only her success, but the growth of the entire squad.
"Pascale is just so motivated," Oberweiser said. "She is always here, ready to go 100 percent."
Scaling back some of that enthusiasm with the big picture in mind has been the challenge and was an unusual feeling initially. While she only took up cross country in seventh grade, De Sa E Silva said she has played water polo and been a swimmer for several years and still competes during the summer.
A student at Bellevue's International School, she said cross country with the Totems has been an opportunity to meet an entirely new group of her peers and expand her social experiences.
"I've found I'm even closer with people on this team," she said. "A lot of my best friends are people on the team."
According to Oberweiser, those new friends didn't take long to begin to follow De Sa E Silva's lead.
In her first year with the cross country program, Oberweiser said she heard about De Sa E Silva before the season began and knew her reputation as one of the conference and state's top runners. But when they met, she quickly realized the intense, overbearing image of a running fanatic couldn't have been further from reality.
"She isn't bossy and doesn't get down on other people," Oberweiser said. "She is sweet, always smiling, fun to be around and she has this amazing running talent to go with her amazing personality."
The field at the 2A meet will likely be loaded with experience, as all but three of the top 15 runners from last year return to the course this year, including state champion Emily Pittis of Sehome.
But with a refocused plan that has her focused on a run through the postseason, De Sa E Silva should be poised to make a push to the front.
"She's a competitor when it comes down to it," Oberweiser said. "She will have that time in her mind she wants, but when it is a competition and she has someone to push her, she goes into competitor mode and wants to be at the top."