The Marblehead High girls cross-country team ended up with a 2-5 regular season record last year in the Northeastern Conference (NEC), before finishing fifth in the NEC Meet, and ninth in the Division 1C state meet. But the story of last fall’s squad centered around the emergence of freshman running whiz Marri O’Connell.
“Young star Marrietta O’Connell turned in some stellar performances for us last year,” said coach Will Herlihy. “She won the freshman race at the Ocean State Invitational, and finished second in the NEC Meet and the Division 1-C state meet with a personal best time of 18:35.20.
“As a result of her top finish at the divisional meet, Marri qualified to compete at the Division 1 Meet of Champions as an individual, where she placed 19th ,” added Herlihy. “We also had another great individual performance last fall, when sophomore Angie Fischer won the NEC JV Meet race.”
There are currently 14 on this year’s roster that includes two seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and four freshmen. Herlihy was enthusiastic to point out that nine are new to the team, as well as the sport.
“We obviously have some unknowns, but what I’ve seen at practice so far in the early going is some really promising stuff,” said Herlihy.
Senior Cat Piper is the lone captain of the team, but she will have help from assistant captains Maren Potter, a junior, and O’Connell.
“These three are all definitely athletes to watch this season,” said Herlihy. “They are all coming off tremendous spring track seasons, and are primed for an excellent fall. But among the newcomers, senior Shannon Hitscherich is a name to look out for. This is her first year in the sport, but she has put in the work over the summer and had a great showing at the time trial during the first week of practice. The freshman group has also shown a lot of promise in the first couple of weeks. Even with minimal experience, they are putting in the effort during workouts and are getting stronger every day.”
The Magicians will be competing in the NEC Dunn Division against the likes of Peabody, Beverly, Danvers and Masconomet. All four schools traditionally field very strong teams. Peabody and Beverly are also perennial powerhouses in both the conference, as well as statewide.
“I have a lot of belief in what this group is capable of doing, as long as they keep on giving the effort,” said Herlihy.
The Magicians will begin the regular season later today (Sept. 6) against visiting Salem at Gatchell’s Park, starting at 4:30 p.m. They will then be participating in the Clipper Relays at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport on Sept. 9, where they will be taking their running talents outside the conference for the first time this season in order to compete against area schools.