PEMBROKE — While many high school graduates spend their summers relaxing and unwinding before they depart for college, former Pembroke High cross-country standout Wesley Gallagher runs a demanding 70 to 75 miles per week.
For the state’s Gatorade Cross-Country Runner of the Year last fall, it’s all in preparation for his freshman year at Northeastern University, where he will run cross-country, and indoor and outdoor track for the Division 1 Huskies.
Northeastern cross-country coach Renny Waldron “gave me a running schedule, and I’ve followed that down to the point every day,” Gallagher said.
Whether it’s an 8 a.m. run with members of this fall’s lineup for Pembroke, or an afternoon run with various high school alumni, Gallagher is sure to get his daily workouts in.
Along with his running schedule, Gallagher attends a workout every Monday and Thursday with Joe Kelley, a Pembroke parent who assists the runners with injury prevention and strength training.
According to Gallagher, putting a focus on injury prevention was extremely important due to the extensive increase in his training.
“I was so scared I was going to get injured,” Gallagher said. “So I’ve been stretching for 30 minutes after I run.”
Gallagher, who ran 50 to 55 miles per week during his high school career, said the transition to a Division 1 training regimen has been relatively easy, thanks to his running partners.
“It hasn’t been that hard of a change,” Gallagher said. “It would be harder, but since I have all the alumni from Pembroke, I can always count on them and it’s easier because I’m always running with someone.”
Among the alumni are former Pembroke High standouts Paul Cina (a junior at Stonehill), Ryan Kelley (Naval Academy, sophomore), Robert LaMarre (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, sophomore), Ryan Moran (Worcester Polytechnic, sophomore), and Brendan Adams (University of Massachusetts Lowell, sophomore), who all run for their respective collegiate programs.
Gallagher’s classmates Joe Vercollone (University of Connecticut), Kris Horn (UConn), and Jesse Fine (Naval Academy) will also run at the Division 1 level this fall.
“It’s awesome,” Gallagher said. “It shows how we’ve had such a good coach, because so many great runners come out of Pembroke,” he said, in a nod to Titans mentor Greg Zopatti.
Gallagher leaves Pembroke with a decorated resume. He’s a two-time Division 2 state champion in cross-country, and as a senior he also won the Division 3 indoor mile and 4 x 800 relay, as well as the Division 3 outdoor 2-mile and 4 x 800 relay.
But for Waldron, it was Gallagher’s junior season that caught his attention.
“Right away, his performances were impressive,” Waldron said, referencing Gallagher’s first cross-country state championship.
“Everybody had such good things to say, so when it came for the recruiting process the summer before his senior year, he had come highly recommended.”
When he arrives at Northeastern University this weekend, Gallagher will be faced with a new challenge of running 8 kilometers (nearly 5 miles) during the cross-country season, as opposed to roughly 3 miles at the high school level.
“The longer races are going to be mentally tougher, but since I bumped up my mileage it shouldn’t be that much harder of a transition,” Gallagher said.
That said, Waldron believes Gallagher can have an immediate impact for the Huskies.
“It’s a big jump, which is why everyone needs to get stronger their freshman year,” Waldron said. However, he said, Gallagher will be “a key factor for us this year because we’re redshirting our top two guys. I think Wes will be one of our top three runners.
“He’s had such an amazing high school career, and I think he will have more success at the collegiate level.”
As much as Waldron was intrigued by Gallagher’s success on the track, he was equally impressed with his personality.
“He’s a very mature kid with high character,” Waldron said. “And we all wanted him to be part of the team.
“We’re really excited to have him here, because he embodies everything we want as a student-athlete.”