They say even a broken clock is right twice a day, and so it seems with the Big Green Cross Country Machine that winning the Miller Invitational two years in a row might just be a bit of dumb luck, or is it? Perhaps these girls are on to something; some kind of attitudinal recipe for success that they now understand and invoke with reckless abandon? Whatever it was that convinced them to train a little more seriously this summer, or to take their runs this fall more earnestly, is now spelling success in bold letters on our results page, and their coaches love it! From the season’s opening salvo of the Brush Invitational, to the impressively large victory at the Canterbury Invitational and on to the Miller Invite at Westie, the team has begun an improbable drive to a super successful fall. Should they stay focused in their training and diligent in avoiding injuries, we see no reason this success shouldn’t continue through November. The team is smaller this year than it has been in close to a decade, but to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Henry V, they might be few in numbers, but a happy few and a band of sisters to boot, for those who sweat and push through immense discomfort together will be in some sense sisters (and the fewer girls, the greater share of honor!). We coaches have watched in wonder at every performance, gazing gleefully as they push through soreness and sickness, and have nothing to return but praise and admiration. If you have not been lucky enough to witness this happy little band, do yourself a favor and make it a point to do so this fall, so you can say, win or lose, I did the Deerfield scream in the fall of 2018!
The day at Westminster was a runner’s dream come true- absolutely beautiful with sunny skies, cool temperatures and a light breeze. The course, a super-challenging hilly monster of a 5k that eats runners for lunch, was dry but soft with relatively long grass, set the stage for even slightly slower times than average. To bottom out that level of expectation, our team had been ravaged by illness this past week and so with our numbers down and our expectations diminished, we were unsure as to how we would fare in comparison to division II powerhouse Suffield Academy, not to mention the other solid teams in Williston, Worcester, and Westminster, to name a few. And yet, this 2019 Green Machine is no ordinary team. This group of girls, either in this corner of the team or that corner, always seem to manage to conjure up pleasant surprises, and surprise they did. We left some girls out of the race because they met the threshold for resting, but others, very much on that fence, competed and more than held their own. But, the real story of the day was the show of gusto from the JV squad. These girls, new to running and racing, and thus not typically used to truly pushing their envelopes, threw themselves with reckless abandon at the intimidating course and competition. We saw such feats that day, and when we talk of this meet as the months and years go by, those names will be freshly remembered.
The JV squad, still unsure, still exploring their proper running pace and where they stand in the lineup, took to the course like greyhounds in the slip. We coaches watched with delight as Sami Dulam immediately jumped to the lead, eventually finishing an amazing 3rd in 26:00. Following her was Aerin Lo; a novice no more, she climbed her way through the pack to finish 7th. Then came Anna Fu, who committed to this race like never before, finishing in 8th place, and Aurelia Bolton in a surprise but well-deserved 10th place finish. The top ten JV girls deservedly were awarded certificates and received warm appreciative applause from the award ceremony crowd. Following our top four were a feisty Acy Cai in 18th place, a determined Jazmine Ramos in 37th, and a focused Grace Stenger in 44th place. It was a miraculous day for every one of the JV runners, and their coaches cannot say enough about how far the girls pushed themselves on Saturday.
Following their Canterbury Invitational success, the varsity girls decided to continue making statements regarding their readiness this season, and despite missing their numbers four, five and six runners, they spoke with a clear and unequivocal voice: Deerfield will be throwing their collective cross country hat (available now at the Academy Athletic store) into the ring in every race: We might not win, but we’ll make you work for it. Taking the race by the horns, 11th grader and Captain Victoria Patterson raced to an early lead that she lengthened as the race matured, finishing in a meet and course record 18:54. On Patterson’s heels were 10th grader Noelle Abeyta in 5th, 9th grader Abigail Fernald in 8th, 11th grader Erin Howe finishing 18th, 9th grader Isha Rao in 19th place, 11th grader Sarah Jung in 23rd, and ninth grader Jean Jin in 29th place. Several of the varsity girls were suffering from the annual cold virus running its way through the Academy, sidelining the three numbers mentioned above, but also deeply affecting some of the actual competitors. But, instead of allowing themselves a poor race, they rallied and held on for finishes respectable enough to win the day.
October brings the meat of our schedule as St. Paul’s kicks things off by paying us a visit this coming weekend. Then, sandwiching St. Crispin’s Day on October 25th are perennial powerhouses Andover and Exeter; both of which are away. Come out, take in the crisp autumn air and dramatic New England fall foliage, and be a part of the Big Green Support Team. We sure could use some friendly faces and good old fashioned yelling!
Click here for complete event results.