Sophomore running whiz kid secures elusive individual state title, leading team to state finals

The Marblehead High girls cross-country team finished fourth in the Division 2A championship meet on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Wrentham Developmental Center to qualify for the All-States this coming Saturday, Nov. 18, at Fort Devens in Ayer. They will be joining their counterparts on the boys squad, who ended up third in their state divisional meet.

The Marblehead High girls cross-country team is shown together after finishing fourth last Saturday in the Division 2A state meet in Wrentham. With that high finish, they qualified for the All-States this Saturday at Fort Devens in Ayer. They are, from left, Angie Fischer, Charlie Roszell, Philine Heuermann, Abbie Goodwin, captain Maren Potter, captain Cat Piper, Jesslyn Roemer, captain Marri O’Connell, Shannon Hitscherich and coach Will Herlihy.

The Top 10 2023 Division 2A finishers among the girls teams were as follows: Melrose (86),

Longmeadow (90), Walpole (91), Marblehead (109), Minnechaug (117), Boston Latin Academy (138), Whitman-Hanson (140), Masconomet (167), Plymouth South (203) and Tantasqua (268).

Sophomore Marri O’Connell (18:11) continues to set a new standard of excellence among Bay State harriers with another extraordinarily fast time to breeze to another victory this fall. It was quite a day for the Magicians track program as both O’Connell and Isaac Gross of the boys team topped their respective state peers with winning performances. This Saturday’s All-States should provide more drama for this Marblehead running tandem.

Cat Piper (21:29, 25th ), Maren Potter 21:36.5, 21-second personal best, 29 th ), Jesslyn Roemer (21:55.40, 1:04 personal best, 40th ), Philine Heuermann (22:13.5, 48 th ), Shannon Hitscherich (23:59.7, 99th ) and Abbie Goodwin (24:46, 108th ) rounded out Marblehead’s participants in the divisional race.

“This was without question the best team race of the season for this group, and it’s happening at the perfect time,” said coach Will Herlihy. “This was a team with a lot of unknowns coming into the season, but they’ve proven time and time again that they can compete on the biggest stages.”

Referring to Marri O’Connell as a rockstar and team leader, Herlihy mentioned that she brought home her first individual divisional title with another stellar performance after a couple of close seconds. Her race last Saturday was made more impressive by the fact that she finished 42 seconds ahead of the second-place runner Ila Zollo of Walpole (18:52.8).

O’Connell’s 18:11 was also the best time across all three waves in Division 2, by over 10 seconds. It positions her as a potential title favorite at Saturday’s state championship meet.

For senior mainstay Cat Piper, it may not have been the result she wanted, but she still battled through a tough race to finish second among Marblehead runners with a very respectable time, a 36-second improvement from her time on this course last year, according to Herlihy.

“Maren Potter, Jesslyn Roemer and Philine Heuermann all had outstanding races — their best this season

by far —  which went a long way toward helping this team finish where they did,” added Herlihy. “I’m incredibly proud of how this team raced (against their state divisional opponents). I told them if they weren’t afraid to race boldly, they would be rewarded, and every one of them rose to that challenge.”

Joe McConnell | + posts

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