Amelia “Millie” Paladino has known the highs and the lows of running cross-country.
She’ll take the highs.
A Morgantown native, Millie has been running since sixth grade and is a 2014 graduate of University High, where she was a standout runner.
After graduation, Millie initially attended WVU, but transferred to Providence College after her sophomore season.
“This is a hard question, but when a flower doesn’t bloom, you don’t fault the flower. You change the environment,” she said. “There were a lot of factors, but most importantly I just wasn’t achieving what I knew I was capable of. That led to insecurity and depression and all around dissatisfaction with my life. Listen, you can’t run well when you aren’t happy. That’s something everyone forgets.”
Millie said making the decision to transfer was not easy.
“Transferring was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life,” she said. “Just because you aren’t happy where you are, doesn’t mean you are going to be happy in this new place. For the first few months I was really lonely and really unsure of my decision, and I cried a lot. A lot. Which a lot of people don’t know. I mean I left my entire life, and everyone I knew, behind. But then I really immersed myself in the team and in the college, and I ended up absolutely loving my decision. Humans are really resilient, you are a lot stronger than you think.”
Millie said there is one major difference between the two teams.
“The team culture is a lot different, its hard to explain,” she said. “We meet for practice every day, which is something we didn’t do in my time at WVU. So you really learn to lean on your teammates for support and encouragement on a daily basis, which carries over to racing.
“That’s not to say I didn’t have people at WVU who gave me encouragement and support, because I did, and I miss them every day. But there were only a few, whereas here there’s a bond you form when you train together on a daily basis.”
In her redshirt senior season, Millie finished in second overall with a time of 9:19.50 at the Boston University season-opener. She finished third in the 800 meters at the Penn Challenge with a time of 2:08.94 setting a new personal best.
Millie said the opportunity to participate at the NCAA and Big East championships was a great experience.
“One of the coolest things about any national meet is the fact that you are there with the best of the best in the country,” she said. “Especially lately in the NCAA some of the competitors are the best of the best collegiately as well as professionally. So anytime you get the chance to see what you’ve got against the best of the best and represent your school, it’s a surreal experience.”
Despite her struggles at WVU, Millie was an individual NCAA Cross Country qualifier in 2015. She was an NCAA Outdoor Track East Regional qualifier in the 1,500 meters in 2015 and 2016. She placed second in the 1,500 meters with a personal best time of 4:21.09 at the 2016 Outdoor BIG 12 Championships. She placed sixth in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:45.80, the third fastest time in West Virginia University history, at the 2016 Nittany Lion Challenge. She placed sixth in the 3,000 meters with a time of 9:28.08 at the 2016 Big 12 Indoor Championships.
“Running in college, in general, is extremely different than high school in almost every aspect,” she said. “Competition is way harder and the responsibility to perform is way higher. I do, however, still goof off with my teammates on a daily basis. That never really changes.”
Millie had an outstanding high school career.
“There’s two experiences that really stand out to me,” she said. “The first was running 4:43 at the Armory at the New Balance Indoor Nationals. That was the fastest anyone in West Virginia had ever run in high school and it was kind of a breakthrough for me. I felt I could take on any challenge after that.
“The second time was when I ran 10:00 for the 2-mile at the Gazette Relays in Charleston. I did it by myself but when I finished, my brother and my teammates hopped over the fences and out of the stadium and rushed over toward me. I really didn’t know how good that was at the time, but it ended up ranking third in the country that year.”
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