Contributed by Russel Whittaker
After 10 seconds of intense excitement and disbelief, the girls cross country team erupted into shrieks and screams. They had just learned that they placed fourth and qualified for State Championships after running a great race at the Eastern Massachusetts Divisionals meet on Nov. 11. This marks the first time in 20 years that the high school’s girls cross country team as a whole has qualified for State Championships, although individual runners have qualified in the past.
According to co-captain and senior Mary Corcoran, everything fell perfectly into place during the Eastern Massachusetts Divisionals race. In the past, some team members hadn’t been able to compete in meets due to various reasons, but at Divisionals, they were all able. According to Corcoran, having all of their teammates together contributed to their success.
“I feel like we’ve had a lot of races where someone’s sick, or someone’s injured, and we’ve had good races individually, and we had one or two where the whole team was together, but that one just felt like everything was together and right on the right day, so it was amazing,” Corcoran said.
In fact, strong team cohesiveness is very important in cross country running. According to head coach Mike DeYoung, the most essential part to having a successful race is to run “tight,” or very close together.
“It’s not a bunch of individuals out there running, you have to find your teammates. We have a saying: ‘you want to reach out, touch someone,’” DeYoung said.
This philosophy was reflected in their results, as all the team members placed one or two places apart during the Eastern Massachusetts Divisionals.
According to freshman Vivian McMahon, who placed fourth overall, having teammates cheer for each other can be very encouraging and feel good.
According to DeYoung, the powerful bond throughout the team was developed from team dinners, fun activities and exciting team spirit that helped to unify them all. Most importantly, the daily work that the girls put in at practice also brought them together even more.
“You know, the key to team building is the day in day out work that you do and focusing on that work and emphasizing that the day in day in is what it’s all about because you know it’s all the small moments that you have that build a team, the experiences, the relationships you build,” DeYoung said.
On Nov. 18, the team went on to place 17th at the State Championships.
Captains Corcoran and Clarice Pertel, a senior, agreed that despite muddy conditions and other minor complications, all the runners put in incredible effort and had a great showing.
“That was just such a great culmination of events,” Pertel said. “We were going for a goal and we achieved it. We definitely will go after this in the future, and I can’t wait to see what the team does. It was really uplifting.”