The Higganum cheering squad was back and bigger this week to watch Fairfield's Kristen Santos compete in the 1500 meter speed skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Santos’ family and nuns from the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Higganum rejoiced as Kristen won her quarter-final race.
After being very animated watching Kristen compete last week in the 1000 meter, Sister Doretta D’Albero was more subdued watching the races this week.
“In the beginning, I was cheering and screaming. But now that I see short track, and I understand the intricacies of it, now I just hold my breath until the very end, because I mean, she was a quarter of a lap away last time,” said D’Albero.
And rightfully so because in just a split second Kristen’s dreams of winning a medal were dashed away.
“Somebody again, fell right in front of her, made her go wide, kind of frustrating, but nothing you can do,” said Donna Soukup, Kristen Santos’ mom.
“Frustrated, unhappy, wishing that that wasn't so but it is. But she made the best of it,” said Sister Lany Jo Smith, of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It’s been quite a whirlwind watching Kristen compete in the Olympics.
“We have just been thrilled to be a part of this,” said Smith.
“We really did have a good time cheering her on and you know, decorating and having people in,” said D’Albero.
And the sisters and Santos' family are still so proud.
“That is a young woman with a lot of integrity and she’s a champion no matter what because of that interview [referring to an interview Kristen gave after her 1000 meter medal race.] She had her emotions just where they needed to be and said, 'I'm not angry. I'm sad. I'm disappointed.' And it has to be disappointing. She's worked so hard. And she wanted it so badly,” said D’Albero.
“I'm very proud of her and I love her. I and, you know, she tried and she had bad luck and you know not to beat yourself up over it,” said Soukup.
Kristen herself said she’s so thankful for their support.
“I appreciate them so much. I really feel their support deep down. They're the first people to message me before, after every single race, waking up the middle of the night. And they're the people who have made everything that much easier to handle, all the heartbreak I've had here, all the ups I've had here. You know, the home sick that I am like, all of that they're going above and beyond to make sure that I'm as happy with my experience and as comfortable here as possible,” said Santos.