MERIDEN — Friends, family, teammates and coaches were on hand to celebrate Maloney senior Bria Benigni’s signing with Division I Brown University on Monday afternoon.
The record-breaking track athlete made her Ivy League commitment official at a ceremony at the Maloney High School’s Media Center.
Benigni will compete in three sports at the Providence, R.I. college: cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
At Maloney, Benigni was a standout soccer player as well as a record-breaking track runner.
Benigni was a highly sought-after athlete. She was contacted by Alabama, Miami, Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Boston University, among others. Virginia Tech, Rutgers, Quinnipiac and Marist made her scholarship offers.
Benigni has a 4.96 GPA.
“Bria being an exceptional student opened the door for this to happen today,” Meriden Athletic Director Bob McKee said. “She had opportunities to play soccer as well as track in college.”
Derek Destefano, Benigni’s indoor and outdoor distance coach, said it has been a great three years to coach the star athlete, but the two still have seven more months together.
“When she arrived as a freshman, you could tell she was a different athlete,” Destefano said. “One of the best athletes I’ve ever coached. She was a 1,000-meter champion as a sophomore and as a junior she broke every distance record at Maloney a couple of times. Last year, she won the national championship in the 800 meters with a 2:11.18 that broke the school record by three seconds.”
Destefano said Benigni isn’t satisfied and wants more.
“When she is done with a race, she always looks at what she can do better: That’s Bria,” Destefano said. “That’s why she is successful. She will not only go down as one of the greatest track athletes in Maloney history, but she will be one of the greatest track athletes to come out of Meriden when she’s all done. She’s done it all with hard work and dedication.”
Benigni signed along side her parents Mark and Amy as well as younger brother Blake.
“I’m excited about my next four years at Brown, but I will never forget the memories I’ve had here at Maloney,” Benigni said. “I'm getting more excited by the day. I'm so happy to have the support I had here today. I’m so happy that the soccer and track teams came out. It made this a special day.”
Benigni said she’s already been running to prepare for the season. Indoor track practice starts next week.
“We have been doing well; we’ve won the conference the last two years,” Benigni said. “I'm excited to see what the team can do this year.”