By Bob York
The countdown for the Deerfield Academy girls cross-country team continues.
Over the past five seasons, the Big Green girls have inched closer and closer to the top step of the medals podium at the New England Prep School Cross Country Championships.
In 2007, Deerfield finished ninth in the pack. The next year, the girls were eighth, followed by a sixth-place finish in 2009. Then, in 2010, Deerfield wound up third to qualify for a bronze medal and its first podium stop. This year, the Big Green took one more step up, finishing second and capturing a silver medal.
But that’s no second-place smile you see on coach Dennis Cullinane’s face in the team photo.
“Runners are never happy,” said Cullinane. “I felt we should have won the race and the girls felt the same way. I’m very proud of them for finishing second, but we all feel as though we could have done just a little bit better.”
Nobles led the pack with 16 points, while Deerfield ended up a distant second with 37 points. Loomis finished third, while Exeter and Hotchkiss wound up fourth and fifth respectively.
The difference in finishing first and second for the Big Green was that one of its runners was forced to drop out due to breathing problems, while another posted her worst finish of the season. “Unfortunately, if both runners had been able to run their typical race, we would have won the crown easily,” explained Cullinane
And so, Deerfield’s countdown continues for that elusive gold, “but I’d rather be defending our first title next year than still chasing it,” quipped Cullinane.
Leading the way for the Big Green, which prepped for the championship race by posting the first undefeated regular season (5-0) showing in school history, was Alanna McDonough ’12, who placed second, while Devinne Cullinane ’14 was eighth. Lilah Lutes ’14 was 14th, as Olivia Mehm ’14 wound up 32nd. Rose Fisher ’13 wound up 42nd, with Carlie Enzerra ’14 ending up 45th.
Cullinane was the recipient of this year’s Moreau Hunt Award, while the Big Green will have tri-captains next fall. They will be Tatum McInerney ’13, Dashiell Schulte ’13 and Fisher.
“We feel good about our chances of finally reaching the top next year,” said Cullinane. “Alanna (McDonough) is the only primary runner we’re losing to graduation, so if our returning nucleus can continue improving and we’re able to get a couple of the top recruits we’ve been looking at, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.