Natalie Tocco was Warwick’s top finisher at the state cross country meet, but it was a top finish a few weeks prior that really made her season.
Tocco won the Warwick City Championship race in October and when she crossed the line in first, she couldn’t help but smile.
“It was the first cross country race I ever won,” she said. “That was probably the happiest moment of my year.”
And it was a year full of happy moments. Tocco, a senior, was the top runner in Warwick throughout the fall season and then delivered solid indoor track and outdoor track seasons as a distance runner. In the classroom, she was Pilgrim’s valedictorian.
Her cross country success was as satisfying as anything. Tocco came into the fall in the best shape she’d ever been in. It paid off quickly.
“I trained harder than I ever have,” she said. “I was really just trying to go out with a bang.”
She did that every step of the way, especially at the City Championship. Tocco edged out some strong Toll Gate runners to grab first.
“I was so happy,” she said. “I felt like the hard work really paid off.”
Tocco signed up for cross country in middle school, when she met one of Pilgrim’s captains. She was hesitant at first.
“I said, ‘I’m not much of a runner,’” Tocco said. “She said, ‘That’s OK. Nobody really is.’”
Tocco certainly became a runner.
“I kind of found my thing,” she said. “It was a sport I was good at, and I really enjoyed it.”
Tocco was a steady performer throughout her career, and her senior year capped it off. In addition to her success against Warwick competition, she finished 42nd at states in 20 minutes, 48.33 seconds.
“I was happy with it,” she said. “I didn’t run my best time but it’s a tough course and there was so much tough competition.”
And her best was good enough to be Warwick’s best.
Tocco is now set to attend the University of Vermont, where she’ll major in animal sciences on a pre-veterinary track.
She’ll also run cross country.