For the last three-plus years, Camille Bertholon has been a good runner for the prestigious St. Dominic Academy cross country and track teams.
Last spring, Bertholon captured both the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run at the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships in impressive times.
But sometimes, good just isn’t good enough. You have to strive to want more than just being good. If greatness is an option, then you should pursue that opportunity.
Last year, Bertholon was the second best cross country runner in Hudson County, running consistently behind Hudson Catholic’s fabulous freshman Crystal Ortiz.
As she entered her senior year in cross country, Bertholon was more than determined to not be second best again.
“At the end of last year, I had a lot of support from my friends and teammates,” Bertholon said. “I like having people be supportive of me. It’s a big motivation to me. I wanted to run well because it was my senior year. I just wanted to run as hard as I could.”
Bertholon didn’t want to say that she used what Ortiz did to her a year ago as a motivational tool.
“She has her own goals,” Bertholon said. “I just worry about myself. What she did to me last year left me in a little state of shock, I guess. But I can’t say that I wanted revenge or anything. That’s not me. The most important thing I thought about was just running.”
So as the summer vacation began, Bertholon went to work.
She spent some time on a horse farm in Vermont, riding horses during the day, but worrying about her craft in the early morning hours.
“I’ve been riding since I was little,” Bertholon said. “But before I went riding, I got up at 6:30 in the morning and would go for a run.”
Bertholon would run for five or six miles.
“There were hills there, so that motivated me,” Bertholon said. “I knew that I would eventually have to run hills in Holmdel [at the Shore Conference Coaches Invitational and then the NJSIAA Group championships], so the hills got me ready.”
After her journey to Vermont, Bertholon went with her family to France and Marseilles.
“I spent two-and-a-half weeks in France,” Bertholon said. “I would do long runs with my uncle [Benoit Colle], who does triathlons. We would do long runs in the Alps.”
Just how long?
“I guess we went about 10-to-15 miles a day,” Bertholon said. “I’d have to get up way early to do that. I just kept thinking about the season.”
Veteran St. Dominic Academy head coach and athletic director John Nagel had faith that his standout runner would do the road work on her own.
“She’s older now,” Nagel said. “She had to be a little older before she could do big things. She’s more mature. She’s gone through the process and knows what’s expected of her. She put in an excellent summer and was significantly better. She put in the mileage. When she was home, she was running about 45 miles a week.”
The hard work and determination certainly paid off, because Bertholon recently won the Jersey City championship and the South Hudson championship.
Last Saturday, Bertholon competed in the elusive Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships at Bayonne County Park, where she was facing her nemesis Ortiz once again.
This time, the race was all Bertholon’s, crossing the line in 19:19.1, almost a full minute ahead of Ortiz.
Not only was it the first Hudson County cross country championship for Bertholon, but it was the first for any Blue Devils’ runner since former Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year Christine Capetola won the second of her two straight county gold medals in 2003. Bertholon became the 10th SDA runner to earn a county title since the inception of the meet in 1977.
For her efforts, Bertholon has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
In the process, Bertholon has shattered the school records set by Liane Sullivan-Rae, who is a member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame. Liane Sullivan-Rae graduated from SDA in the late 1980s, so the records stood for almost 30 years.
“She blew up Sullivan’s records,” Nagel said. “She has them all.”
“It’s definitely rewarding and makes me feel good,” Bertholon said. “I know that Liane Sullivan was a great athlete and to break her records really makes me feel happy and proud. I know now that when I graduate, I’ll be remembered.”
Bertholon will be more than simply remembered. She will be revered for her perseverance and persistence, not to mention her work ethic.
“I am impressed with what she’s done,” Nagel said. “I like her humility. I like the way she’s grown up. When she was a freshman, she was just a member of the team, but now, she’s grown up and she’s having a very good year.”
Colleges have taken notice of Bertholon’s accomplishments. She is being looked at by schools like Rhode Island, UMass, Manhattan, Vermont, UConn and Northeastern.
“That really motivates me,” Bertholon said. “I have to keep striving to do better. I know I have a chance to be better, but with what I’ve accomplished, I have the right to be proud.”
Bertholon would like to major in nursing in college. She’s still a little amazed that the colleges are interested in her to run there.
“When I was a freshman or a sophomore, I would never dream of schools like this coming to talk to me,” Bertholon said. “Knowing that they’re interested in me makes me feel important.”
“She’s going to land somewhere,” Nagel said. “It does say a lot in how far she’s come.”
Bertholon will lace up the spikes again next Saturday when she competes in the NJSIAA Non-Public A championships in Holmdel Park. Her legend will hopefully continue there. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.