Text and photos by Steev Riccardo
WEBSTER - It’s a long time since the Bartlett High School girls cross country team has had a winning record. In fact, head coach Rebecca Bergin enjoyed her first winning season (6-5) this fall since she started coaching at the school in 2005.
The Indians lost five seniors to graduation from last year’s team, including captain and leading runner Kelly Powers, that made this feat even more amazing.
The team entered the season with only three returning runners from last year along with ten new runners, none of whom were seniors.
Junior co-captains Lindsay Mason and Emily Powers and eight- grader Leah Dunbar all returned from last season. Both Powers and Dunbar were top- 5 runners a year ago, which gave Bergin and the team something to build on.
What surprised Bergin was the emergence of seventh grader Rachel Connor (above), who has been outstanding. The newcomer started slow but since has been finishing first on her team in every race.
“She has really excelled, she has been a good minute and a half ahead of other runners in recent races,” said Bergin. “She has the endurance and the stamina.”
Bergin attributes Connor’s success to her off-season workouts. The 12-year old is also a cheerleader, which is actually her first love. The hard work she puts in during the summer put her in tiptop shape for the season.
It was great winning six of eleven meets but the real highlight for the Indians was beating Auburn in a race that saw Connor, remarkably, finishing first overall.
“It’s fun pushing myself and I like how it feels to run,” said Connor. “I didn’t think I would be bad but I didn’t think I would be as good at it as I am.”
Her teammate and captain Mason said that watching Connor’s improvement throughout the season was “impressive to see.”
Mason said that her personal experience with cross country “has been awesome, it’s different being a captain, you see things in a whole new light.”
Fellow captain Powers, who is the younger sister of Kelly, who was the team’s top runner last year, has had to adjust without having her mentor around. “Kelly was always the person I followed, I always set my goals according to how she did and now I don’t have that bar set,” said Powers.
“It has been a nice experience leading the team this year and I have been watching all the girls progress as I have been.”
Eight-grader Leah Dunbar has been another stalwart performer for the Indians and has finished first among her teammates several times as well.
Another interesting addition to the team has been sophomore Sarah Whalen, who transferred to Bartlett from Millbury this year. She said that “it feels great to have been part of this team” and that she hopes to become a leader in years to come.
The future is looking bright for Bergin and the girls and with everyone returning it looks like winning could become a mainstay in the program.
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- Monday, 29 October 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Sports