Runners push for October
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For local runners, every practice and meet is building toward late October.
The goal is to put together the best race possible when it matters the most — at the divisional meet and Meet of Champions.
So over the next two months, runners will train in an effort to improve so they peak at just the right time.
And it should be an exciting year, as teams and individuals try to build off last year’s success that saw one team qualify for states and another returning runner make it all the way to the New England Championships.
The girls squad had a big postseason last year as they finished sixth overall in Division II and advanced to Meet of Champions for the first time since 2009.
And the expectation is to have that same kind of success.
“We want to make it back to Meet of Champions as a team,” said coach Judy Heddy. “I’m hoping we can take it to the next level and make New Englands.”
The Cougars return four of their top five runners from a year ago, along with three others who also ran for the team during various points last season.
Seniors Rowan Wilson and Sydney Michalak battled all last year for the top spot and should do it again in 2013. Wilson led the team at both the D-II meet and Meet of Champions.
Seniors Courtney Fisher and Shannon Glidden also return and were consistently among the top five scorers a year ago.
“The people we have coming back are in a good place,” said Heddy. “And all we need to do is fill a few slots, which I think we can do.”
Juniors Mei Buzzell, Kelsa Danforth and Jacqueline Hendrixson, along with freshman Caitlin Galea figure to be in the mix for the remaining top seven spots.
As for the boys team, they should be much improved.
“My main goal for the boys is to step it up from last year,” said Heddy. “We can be a lot more competitive.”
With juniors Andrew Hunt, Joe Bernstein and Clay Lyons, along with senior Jesse Edwards leading the way, the Cougars have a good base to begin with.
“It looks like they are ready to work,” said Heddy.
Sophomore Granger Wozmak also returns and the addition of junior Nick Orr and six freshmen shows signs of the boys program taking the next step. Griffin Werth looks to be the one freshman who will battle for a top seven spot, as the Cougars try to improve upon last year’s 16th place finish in D-II.
Junior Tim Fafard leads the boys squad, which will have enough to qualify as a team for the first season since 2010.
Fafard finished third in Division III and seventh at Meet of Champions on his way to New Englands and is looking ready to improve on not only his place in those races, but how fast he runs them.
Building off a phenomenal spring, Fafard is ready to have his best season yet.
“Other people are going to have to beat him at Division III to win it,” said coach Mike Smith.
Sophomore Avery Traffie burst on to the scene last year and finished in the top 30 of D-III. After a long summer of training, Traffie is showing signs of a huge sophomore year and one that could qualify him for Meet of Champions.
“He’s already faster than last year,” said Smith.
Joining the team this year will be juniors Jackson Whitehouse, Jimmy Thompson and Tristan Kazo, as well as freshmen Jake Movsessian and Logan Traffie.
“Our boys team will do better than most teams with so many new members,” said Smith.
With Fafard and Avery Traffie leading the way, the Vikings could be surprise at the D-III meet.
The girls team at Mascenic consists of just sophomore Briana Boulerice.
After Elizabeth McGurk, who will run at Keene State College this year, made it all the way to New Englands last year as the only runner, Boulerice, who is a year round swimmer and new to cross-country, will be aiming to crack a 28-minute 5K.
“She’s in good shape, but she’s no runner,” said Smith. “But she wants to do this and is willing to work hard to improve.”
The boys team brings back everyone from last year and will get a boost from a returning senior and an incoming freshman.
Seniors Colby Whitcomb and Tyler Pimental and junior Kyle Moreau will lead the team and battle for the lead position.
“I think they’ll fight it out,” said coach Erin Kelly. “It’s great to have them practice together and push each other.”
Whitcomb led the way last year at the Division III meet, while Moreau was second on the team and the addition of Pimental should help the Orioles improve upon their 19th place finish.
Seniors Conner Hahnl and Derek Williams and sophomore Aaron Bresnick are also back, while the addition of freshman Dane Seppala helps strengthen the lineup.
“We have a strong five, but I don’t think it will be the same five in order every meet,” said Kelly. “I think we’re going to have a really solid group.”
The girls will be led by sophomore Laura Howard, who will be running on the team for the first year.
Seniors Stacey Young and Jula Trimble provide experience and figure to be the next two finishers behind Howard.
“They will fight for two and three. They run well together and will push each other,” said Kelly.
Senior Bekah Chaisson and juniors Ivy Chalke and Ashley Rogers will add depth to the squad.