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December 7, 2012

RUNNING DOWN A DREAM Peabody's Rocha chases national title with pedigree, humility

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She’s a team-oriented performer who brings out the best in fellow runners, while also having the best in her brought out by them.

“Catarina’s fun to be around. She’s funny, outgoing, she’s always laughing and really opens up around the team,” said Allen. “She’s a great person and is very humble. That’s one of her best qualities.”

Rocha is certainly a Division 1 collegiate runner, but keeping her options open while living in the moment and trying to get used to being a nationally known running commodity. She’d just as soon be known as a regular kid who runs.

“It’s great to be noticed as a runner, though I am still getting used to that,” Rocha said.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Rocha comes from the first family of North Shore running. Her dad ran at Foot Locker Nationals in 1982 (finishing 15th) and is in the Hall of Fame at Boston College. Her mom, Gina, ran at Foot Locker in 1985 and is in the Peabody Hall of Fame, as are uncles Fernando (the Peabody High boys coach and a BC Hall of Famer) and Helder Braz (a UMass-Dartmouth Hall of Famer).

The pressure with living up to a legacy like that would be enough to crush a lot of student-athletes. But Rocha’s parents always made sure she cut her own path.

“Some kids in her position might take that the wrong way, (but) Catarina has embraced it,” said Joe Rocha. “Growing up she didn’t know much about our running, and we always wanted her to be herself. It’s been amazing to see her do it.”

Rocha remembers being at track practice as a young girl while mom and dad coached. She grew up picturing life as a soccer player, and started in that sport for Peabody High as a freshman. She fell in love with track in indoor and outdoor that year, however, and never turned back.

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