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Captain’s Corner

Photo: Sive Lowell ('19):
The boys team poses with their medals and bright smiles on their faces.

Photo: Sive Lowell ('19): The boys team poses with their medals and bright smiles on their faces.

Photo: Sive Lowell ('19): The boys team poses with their medals and bright smiles on their faces.

Photo: Sive Lowell ('19): The boys team poses with their medals and bright smiles on their faces.

Asher Llewellyn, Sports Editor

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With the first couple months of practice and the first meet under their belt, I sat down this week with the senior captains of the Boys and Girls’ Cross Country teams to take a look ahead at what this year’s team has to offer for the upcoming season.

Coming off of five consecutive state championship wins and with better-than-ever depth, the Maggie Walker Boys Cross Country team is poised for success in this coming season. When asked about how the team would do in their first meet, which took place last Saturday at the Newport News Invitational, captain Nathaniel Gregory (‘19) showed nothing but confidence. “There’s no competition,” he affirmed. “We’re gonna wipe the floor with them.” And so they did. Among the Varsity A team, which tends to play a greater role in determining who wins a meet, four placed top 25, along with Everett Flora (`22) at 26th. Adams Sachs (‘19) and Carter Morgan (‘20) placed 3rd and 8th, respectively. Captain Jack Jeffrey (‘19), who believes this team to be the “best in four years,” placed 4th.

This win should come as no surprise. The team is at its best position yet with top runners Sachs and Jeffrey fully recovered from injury. The team’s top two were both out for around three months last year due to foot injuries, which cut into their success towards the end of the running year. Although number four runner Gregory had to miss his team’s first race due to injury, he has since returned and will race in the next meet.

Other notable improvements to the team come in the form of up-and-coming freshmen such as Everett Flora and Ben Blanchard (`22), among others. The two have performed well so far, with Flora now running in the top seven. Several upperclassmen are also rising to the occasion, as the team has witnessed Sachs progress from an average Varsity B runner to one of the top runners on the team through what can only be described as sheer dedication and love of the sport. Carter Morgan (`20), too, “stepped up a lot this year and is doing much better than he has” in the words of his captain.

The Girls Cross Country team boasts an equally strong record of five consecutive state championship wins as well, and is “expecting a lot of big things this year,” according to captain Emily Turner (‘19). The team was easily favored to win Saturday’s meet, and seemed to do so with little difficulty. Among the Girls Varsity A runners, defending champion Mary Caroline Heinen (‘20) placed 1st, along with Mary Kemp (‘21) at 4th, Amelia Seabury (‘20) at 18th, and Kathryn Ellis (‘20) at 33rd. Most importantly, “everyone exceeded Coach Holdren’s expectations, so he was really excited,” according to captain Megan Bale (‘19), who placed 35th.

The team’s success—although more or less business as usual—finds its roots in standout freshmen Virginia Warren (`22), Madelyn Campbell (`22), and Caitlin Baker (`22). According to Turner, their captain, the three train together, which creates a “kind of teamwork that really sparks improvement, community, and hard work.” The effects of their dedication are already visible. Warren placed top 50 in Varsity A and Campbell won Varsity B, with Baker showing bright potential as well.

The Girls team also has several athletes coming back from summer injuries, which will certainly improve the team’s success in the future. “Unfortunately, we had a bunch [of teammates] that were injured near the end of the summer, but a lot of people are starting to recover and come back,” said Bale. Injuries can be commonplace in cross country, yet the Girls team at Maggie Walker has much bigger things to worry about. “We don’t want to focus on negative goals like avoiding injury,” said Turner. “We want to focus on positive goals like staying healthy.”

Looking forward, the Boys and Girls Cross Country teams would love to see support from more students along their certain path to victory, most importantly at the MileStat Invitational on October 13.

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