The Algonquin Regional girls’ cross-country team had high but reasonable expectations of returning to the All-State meet this fall after finishing second at last year’s Central Mass. Division 1 Championships at Gardner Municipal Golf Course.
It would have been tough enough for the Tomahawks to earn a third straight trip to All-States competing against reigning champion Shepherd Hill and perennial powers Wachusett, Westboro, North Middlesex and Groton-Dunstable, but COVID-19 has wiped out this year’s postseason meets.
“We definitely would’ve had a team that would’ve been very competitive at the district meet,” said third-year coach Pat Galvin, whose team also finished a respectable third in Gardner two years ago. “We’re looking forward to the future. It’s a strong team. We continue to try to build up this program.
“Fifteen of the girls are newcomers,” the coach added. “It was really exciting to have 15 new girls on the team this year. We hope to have a very competitive team at the state level. Hopefully, a top-10 team in the future.”
Although there are no invitationals or championship meets this year, Galvin is impressed with the attitude and work ethic of his sizable, but normal varsity roster of 47 student-athletes.
“Everybody is enjoying coming to practice and socialize and seeing friends on the team face to face,” Galvin said. “It’s more enjoyable than seeing their friends over the computer. We’re hoping we can be competitive and have at least a few meets on the calendar. We’re continually optimistic we can have a full season. We’ll even have team trials this season to give the girls the opportunity to be competitive.”
Algonquin is 1-0 after defeating Leominster, 15-50, on Thursday.
Only separated by three minutes, the Tomahawks took the first five spots, led by sophomore Ada Gebauer, senior Anna Long, freshman Lily Fruhan, classmate Austeja Bazikas and senior Anni Garden.
“Over the summer, a lot of the girls from the beginning of COVID had more time to run,” Galvin said. “A lot of our new girls got into running during the pandemic. A lot of people, in general, were running, and they liked it and decided to join the cross-country team. That was lovely to hear and really nice.”
Goals and expectations for the 2020 season are limited, but still important to achieve.
“We’re sticking to the basics of why we run cross-country,” Galvin said. “As a team, we talked about working hard and self-improvement and a time to socialize. We’re really keeping it simple. We’re trying to have a really casual practice and keep practice as a stress reliever. It’s a space for the team to come and enjoy running.”
Long, who won the 1,000 meters at the CMass Division 1 Indoor Track Championships last February, is a captain.
“She did a fantastic job over the summer,” Galvin said. “She’s one of our top runners on the team.
Keeping up with Long is Gebauer. “They’re a 1-2 punch up front,” Galvin said.
Others to watch are senior captains Amanda Ares and Kathleen Ely, classmate Maeve Grandpre, who placed 20th at last November’s Central Mass. championships, and juniors Olivia Kardos and Hayley Norton.
Kardos (21st) was right behind Grandpre at the CMass meet.
“She’s made great improvement,” Galvin said. “She came in, in really good shape. Hayley had a good summer of running.”
Galvin is excited to see how his 12 freshmen develop over the next four years.
“Strong freshmen class,” Galvin said. “We certainly look forward to a strong freshmen class of runners.”
—Contact Steve Farley at [email protected]
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