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Cross-Country

Running with a purpose

ConVal teams working toward appearance at Meet of Champions

  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.
  • The ConVal cross-country team hosted a three-team meet on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

The meet was just another step in the process.

When the ConVal cross-country teams took to their home course on Tuesday to square off with Hollis/Brookline and John Stark, the goal was not to just simply post the best time of the season.

Sure, coach Judy Heddy would not complain if all of her runners set personal bests during the first of two home meets, but the teams are working toward something greater.

It was only the fourth race of the season and it could be looked at more as a benchmark than anything else. The Cougars run on those trails almost every day and this was a way for Heddy to track their progress.

While each race is important, especially the ones at home, Heddy’s ultimate goal is to have her team running at its best in late October — when the postseason meets begin with the Division II Championships on Oct. 26.

And so far, Heddy is happy with what she has seen.

“The thing that excites me this year is that there are a lot of new, young runners,” said Heddy. “I am really pleased with the additions we had to the team. We have a solid 11 on each side.”

The boys finished second on Tuesday with 43 points, trailing just Hollis/Brookline’s 20. The girls also placed runner-up with 48 points, while the Hollis/Brookline squad earned the team win with 22 points.

Senior Courtney Fisher led the Cougars by finishing third overall in 20 minutes and 59 seconds, only trailing Hollis/Brookline’s Emma Newton (20:02) and Meghan Philpot (20:56).

“Her work this summer is playing off,” said Heddy of Fisher. “This year she put in the time and it shows.”

On the boys side, junior Andrew Hunt put together another great race to place third in 17:58. He was just two seconds behind Hollis/Brookline’s Christian Parenteau and one second off the pace of runner-up Sean Zapolski.

It was a mad dash to the finish, but Hunt was unable to overtake the Hollis/Brookline pair down the final 100 meters.

“Four races in and I’ve broken 18 [minutes] twice,” said Hunt. “I trained a lot in the offseason.”

Senior Rowan Wilson finished seventh in the girls race in 21:50, as she tries to work back to her team-leading form from a year ago when the girls squad advanced to Meet of Champions.

“I’m kind of getting myself back into it. I didn’t train as much as I’d hoped, but I will just improve throughout the season,” said Wilson.

The goal once again is to advance past the Division II meet and to the state level as a team. The thought is that this year’s group will have the personnel to make it two years in a row.

“That’s definitely the goal to make it to at least Meet of Champions and I think we are capable of that this year,” said Wilson.

Junior Mei Buzzell, who was hampered by an illness for much of last year, has really come on strong in the early part of the season. She posted a time of 22:33 to finish ninth and is working hard to help this year’s team make a return trip to Meet of Champions.

“Last year I was disappointed that I wasn’t on the team that made it to Meet of Champions,” said Buzzell. “So I really want to get there this year and I think we can do it.”

Freshman Caitlin Galea has been a nice addition to the group and finished 15th overall in 23:21. Senior Sydney Michalak rounded out the team scoring in 23:58, good enough for 16th.

“The main thing is the divisional meet,” said Heddy. “It will rely on Caitlin and Sydney. Both of them have the potential to run better than our four and five last year.”

Heddy expects big things out of the girls team and by the time the end of the season rolls around, she and her team envision a group of five that is running very close in times.

“I think things are going really well. The girls team is really strong this year and we have a lot of strong runners that are closer in times than we did last year,” said Wilson.

After being a dominant force in New Hampshire for many years, the boys team has been rebuilding over the last few seasons. It has taken some time, but Heddy really likes what she sees.

“I definitely see a progression in the boys team,” said Heddy. “Even individually I’ve seen improvement in times over the last few races.”

With Hunt leading the way, the Cougars have a strong pace setter. And with a strong group of returners and newcomers, the Cougars are looking at a turnaround season.

“He has worked really hard and he just loves to run,” said Heddy of Hunt. “I could probably send him out and he’d run just about anything.”

Junior Joe Bernstein took fifth on Tuesday with a time of 19:03 and junior Nick Orr, in his first year with the team, placed ninth in 19:40.

“The competition makes them better,” said Heddy. “For some of them I think there could be some big jumps.”

Junior Clay Lyons was 11th, 19:58, and freshman Cully Colantino finished 13th with a time of 20:23.

“The new people who have come to the team are definitely making an impact,” said Heddy.

If the boys keep up this trend, the anticipation is a much higher finish at the Division II meet.

“This year we could make it to Meet of Champions as a team, but if not we definitely can make it next year,” said Hunt.

And the next test will come on Saturday when ConVal travels to Coe-Brown for the annual Black Bear Invitational.

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