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December 7, 2012

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

(Continued)

“I watched the meets when I was little and they were awesome, but I never imagined myself as a runner,” Rocha said. “It’s really neat how that changed. I remember looking up to the girls who ran because of the guts they had.”

Some 20 years after her parents met at Boston College and the Braz family set a new standard for running in Peabody, it’s Rocha that’s blazing the trail for this new generation.

“It’s very emotional for us. She’s not doing it because she has to, but because she deserves it,” said Braz, paying Catarina the greatest compliment of saying she sometimes looks like her mom when she runs.

“The way Catarina carries herself, post race and pre-race, is what Gina was. They’re both people with tremendous gifts that never took them as God-given, but worked for them and made it look easy.”

Rocha’s name is on the school record board for the 800, 1000, cross country and several relays. Her cousin Evan held the boys’ 1000 for a time, and uncle Fernando still has several Tanner marks.

“It’s pretty cool to see my name and be able to see their accomplishments,” said Catarina Rocha. “But that’s not really important for me. The most important thing is team first, then family, and then some individual things.”

LASTING LEGACY

With one cross country race left and another two seasons of high school track, Rocha is already one of the most dominant runners the North Shore has ever known. She’s won both Division 1 and All-State championships in five consecutive seasons of track, with six total Eastern Mass. titles on her resume.

No matter how many records she sets, Rocha might best be remembered for the humble and even demeanor with which she approaches every race. That and her quiet, yet burning, intensity.

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