Rob Potter | Democrat
Liberty Central School senior Jessica Dunnigan, seated center, smiles while sitting with her parents John and Jill Dunnigan on Tuesday afternoon moments after signing her National Letter of Intent to compete for the women’s track and field team at Northeastern University. Standing behind the Dunnigans are, from left to right, Coaches Ralph Bressler and Debbie Simpson, Athletic Director Jason Semo and Linda Argentati of the Guidance Department.
Jessica Dunnigan defends state title,
signs to run at Northeastern Univ.
By Rob Potter
LIBERTY As several family members, friends, coaches and school administrators who had gathered in the Liberty Central School media center proudly looked on, senior Jessica Dunnigan signed a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday afternoon to attend Northeastern University and compete for the school’s women’s track and field team.
Dunnigan, who is the Salutatorian of the Liberty Class of 2011, will receive a part academic and part athletic scholarship from Northeastern, an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school in Boston.
“We all congratulate Jessica for earning this scholarship,” Liberty Athletic Director Jason Semo said. “She puts 100 percent into everything she does in the classroom and on the track. She represents the kind of student-athletes we want to have here at Liberty.”
Sitting beside Jessica Dunnigan as she put pen to paper were her parents, John and Jill Dunnigan of Liberty. They were also at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Track and Field meet last Saturday where Jessica won the girls’ Division II championship in the 200-meter run for the second straight year. She won the race in 25.02 seconds, defeating Emily Woodford of Oxford, who placed second in 25.18.
“We are very proud of her,” Jill Dunnigan said of Jessica. “She also made it to the Federation race afterwards.”
The Federation race includes those who compete in the NYSPHSAA meet as well as those from New York City schools and private schools.
“She has done very well,” John Dunnigan commented. “She had a big improvement in her times in the 200. She ran 25.51 to win at the OCIAA meet and ran a 25.23 in the state semifinal race. Then she ran 25.02 in the final to win. It was a great race.”
Jessica Dunnigan also finished second at the state meet in the Div. II 100-meter run. Klarissa Ricks of Holy Names won the title with a time of 12.13 seconds and Dunnigan took the silver medal in 12.41 seconds.
In the Div. II long jump, Dunnigan placed 10th with a mark of 16 feet, 1 1/4 inches.
Liberty Coaches Debbie Simpson and Ralph Bressler noted that Dunnigan had a great race in the 200 final.
“It was very exciting,” Simpson said. “We were speechless, it was so exciting.”
“We’re proud of her for the way she ran the 100 and the 200,” Bressler said. “In the 100, Jessica really closed in on [Klarissa] Ricks in the final 20 meters. In the last 100 meters of the 200, Jessica took off and passed several girls.”
The 17-year-old Dunnigan was happy to repeat as the 200 meter champion.
“The 200 is what I have been working hard for all year,” she explained. “I gave it my all in the final. I didn’t have anything else left for the Federation final.”
Dunnigan placed seventh in the Federation final with a time of 25.81 seconds.
“Remember, the Federation race is the top eight runners in all of New York State and she gave it her all,” Simpson said. “It’s been an honor to coach Jessica and to see her become such an amazing young woman.”
As she looks forward to graduation next week, Dunnigan is pleased with her scholastic athletic career.
“I’m really happy with how everything turned out,” she said.
Dunnigan appreciates all of the support from her parents, her brother Michael, who is a student at Northeastern, her friends, teachers and coaches.
“I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Liberty,” she said. “I really have to thank my parents, I’m where I am today because of them. And I thank all of my teachers and coaches, especially Mr. Semo.”
This autumn at Northeastern, Dunnigan will be roommates with her friend Victoria Alexander, a member of the girls’ track and field team at Beacon High School.
This summer, Dunnigan will be following a workout schedule prepared by Northeastern Coach Sherman Hart.
Dunnigan is looking forward to the summer workouts and competing for the Huskies’ track and field team.
“If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything,” she said with a bright smile.