NORTH ANDOVER — There are memorable freshman seasons, and then there are freshman seasons like the one Merrimack track star Carly Muscaro is having this winter.
In her first season donning the blue and gold, the Ashland (Mass.) native has set the school record in the 400-meter dash three times.
The most recent was Feb. 8 at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational at Boston University, where she placed sixth in a loaded field in a time of 55.56 seconds.
At the time, it was the third fastest 400 by a Division 2 runner this winter.
She’s made huge strides. Her high school personal best was 58.16 as a junior and last year her best was just a 60.09.
“I’ve definitely surprised myself,” Muscaro said. “I was confident coming into college track, I knew that if I had worked hard enough that I’d be OK, but it’s crazy to think of the season we’ve had so far. No way I ever expected this.”
Head coach Matt Pimentel said before the season that one of the team’s goals was to re-write every record in the Warriors’ book this season. The Warriors have had a varsity program since 2010-11. The year started with Merrimack entering a whopping 10 new records in the season’s opening meet.
“We set that goal because we knew we had a lot of talent,” Pimentel said.
“To be honest, I can’t sit here and tell you that I thought we would set 10 new records in our first meet of the season, but we definitely feel like we could re-write out record book this year with the new talent we have brought in and all of the returning talent that has continually improved.”
Muscaro also was a four-year member of the Ashland High soccer team and has found that year-round track training, a new development this season for Muscaro, has helped improve her times.
“My winter and spring years last year as a senior were not that great,” she said. “I wasn’t even breaking into the 50s on my (400-meter) time, so to take five seconds off in just a year has been amazing.
“Training for just track has definitely helped me. I think it’s a lot more mental. Not having to focus on soccer you can really prepare yourself for the just the race and you can do all of the stretching and strength exercises to just focus on running. Even with me just running the 400, I used to run other events but now just sprinting I think it’s easier to just keep your focus all the time on the one race.”
Muscaro says part of what attracted her to Merrimack was that it was such a young program.
“I know some people would be turned away that it’s a young team and one that’s building but it actually got me really excited,” said Muscaro, who will be running at the New England tomorrow at Harvard.
“Not that you’re not a part of something at other schools, but to have the chance to come to a place like Merrimack and really help establish the program and get the name out there, that’s a big reason why I wanted to come here.”