By Mac Cerullo
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Following her stellar career on the track at Pentucket, former Sachems standout Marissa Porter has emerged as a rising star at Marist College.
Porter, a resident of West Newbury, is currently in the midst of her first season running indoor track at the collegiate level.
She primarily competes in the 800-meter race, which is a change from her high school days, and over the past month she has seen her times improve every time out.
“We’ve had about four meets in track, and they’ve been going pretty good,” Porter said.
“I used to do the mile and now I’m doing the 800. My times have been getting better.”
Last month, Porter placed 18th in the 800-meter run at the Gotham Cup in New York City with a time of 2:30.72, and most recently she ran a personal best 2:28.50 in the 800 at Saturday’s Valentine Invitational held at Boston University. In each instance, she finished the race first on the team.
Porter’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who followed her career at Pentucket.
The former Sachem was one of the cross-country team’s top three runners as a freshman, and as a senior she broke the 20-minute mark in the 5K and qualified for All States.
Though she has never been lacking in talent or passion, Porter has often found herself short on luck throughout her career.
While at Pentucket, Porter suffered two major injuries that cost her the better part of two full cross-country seasons, and this past fall she came down with mononucleosis in the middle of her first cross-country season at Marist and missed most of the year.
“It started out really good. In my first race I ran a good time and came in tenth on the team, which I was really happy about,” Porter said.
“But then I got mono and missed a big chunk of the season.”
Porter missed three meets due to illness, but more importantly she suffered a significant setback in her training and conditioning.
On her return, Porter was able to get herself back into shape and eventually worked herself up to the No. 7 spot on the team, a mark that would have qualified her for the NCAA Regionals had she made the jump earlier in the season.
“That’s a real testament to how tough she is,” said Pete Colaizzo, head coach of the Marist track and field program.
“Most people would’ve been like ‘to heck with it,’ but she came back and raced well.”
Porter said she knew early on that she wanted to run in college, and that Marist, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was originally one school that looked attractive to her.
She said she also looked at Roger Williams University and the University of Redlands in California, but once she got in touch with Colaizzo and coach Chuck Williams, all of the pieces fell into place.
“Marist was my top choice, and then I talked to the coach and it ended up working out,” Porter said.
“So I got some scholarships and it all fell into place perfectly. I love it here.”
Marist’s next competition will be tonight at the Lafayette/Rider Winter Games in New York City, and then after that the team will compete in the MAAC Championship meet on Feb. 21.