“He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.” For my money, this is one of the most compelling lines in American literature. Captain Ahab, blinded via a vengeful rage, was clearly losing sight of reality in a bloodlust for payback. It teaches us the dangers of revenge, but it is also a solid lesson on the pitfalls of being over focused. Reeling from our first loss over two seasons and 13 races, it is going to be tempting to pile upon the white hump in workouts, riding the mantra that more is better and push, push, push. But that is not our path. Losing to Exeter today, 32-26 was an inevitability, considering their immense depth and our small roster. It is a given which we take in stride as we rest up for Andover next week, NMH the week after, and New Englands in three. We will lick our dual wounds of sickness and soreness, try our best to rotate girls out in the coming weeks to rest, (difficult considering our small numbers) and focus on the big picture- doing well at New Englands. The girls ran valiantly today, and will live another day to take on all comers. Actually, it will be nice not bearing the burden in three weeks of being the favorites; the pressure is off and now we can get down to the business of getting ready.
The girls in green were fearless in their approach to the race today, dashing out in a sea of red singlets and finding strategic spots in the field that would assure a Deerfield victory. Led by Captain Victoria Patterson, they entered the woods of the first mile feeling confident but a little shaky. As they emerged from the first loop it was becoming evident that Exeter might win the day as their 1-4 runners took advantageous positions among our top three, and their 5 and 6 among our top four. By the time the field began to pop out of the second mile woods trail, it was clear the Lions had cemented a victory. Finishing in first and setting a course record was Patterson, followed in second overall by a surging Noelle Abeyta. Then, Deerfield followed with impressively gutsy runs by Abby Fernald in 7th, a magnificent last mile by Grace Russell in 10th, the ever present Jane Mallach in 13th, a dashing Isha Rao in 15th, a charging Captain Gemma Bishop in 16th, an indefatigable Erin Howe in 21st, a persistent Sarah Jung in 26th, the ever positive Jean Jin in 28th, and the soulful Aerin Lo in 30th. It is also worth noting that Jasmine Ramos participated in the race today but was pointed in the wrong direction by some hopefully well-meaning bystander. Alas, all these efforts were not enough to overcome the competition as Deerfield succumbed to the depth of Exeter.
The girls ran well today, and as I explained to them after the race, amid more than a tear or two, they have absolutely nothing for which they should feel ashamed. Exeter was the better team today, making our loss inescapable, and finally giving us some much needed perspective on the hunt for that white whale. It was also a valuable diagnostic for us in terms of where we are, training and racing-wise. We gave up a victory today, but we will remain pugnacious. We learned lessons about rest and our subsequent race readiness, yet we are not shaken. And finally, we were somewhat saddened at the ending of an impressive streak of wins, but we find consolation in the possibilities that the coming weeks bring. We are, after all, not just defending New England Champions, we are Deerfield.
Go Big Green!