Quabbin girls’ coach Brian Young summed up this season as really bizarre, but his team is still having lots of fun.
“We’re inexperienced right now,” said Young, who is in his 23rd year with the program and 21st as head coach. “It’s a little awkward. It’s been difficult because we started September 18th. Usually by then, that’s our third, fourth week in. Fortunately with this sport, they can run on their own.
“We’re kind of young. We’re enthusiastic. The girls are enjoying learning. With the late practices and stuff they’re just rounding into shape. We’re excited.”
The Panthers are led by sophomore Katherine McMenemy, whose personal best on the 5K home course is 25:19. According to Young, that ranks as 18th best on the refurbished course that is only 4 years old.
“We have a difficult course,” Young said. “We have the most difficult course in Central Mass.”
Former standout Emily Hood, who graduated last June, has the best time to date, completing the course in under 23 minutes last fall.
“I told (McMenemy) her name is going to be at the top of the list by the time you get out of here,” Young said. “As a coach you like to point things out.”
Young said he thinks McMenemy was inspired by former great Brooke (Perron) Graves, who was a three-time T&G Super Team All-Star. Graves, who graduated from Quabbin in 2004 and later starred at Assumption, owns the Panthers record on their old course (18:23).
“She came up to one of my practices last year to talk to the girls and her experiences on how to be a district winner,” Young said. “She talked to them about mileage, the dedication it takes, and understanding what you need to eat and fuel yourself. (McMenemy) took it to heart.”
Young also praised his three senior captains — Taylor Masser, his No. 2 harrier who is in her fourth year, Toni Sacramone and Emma Briggs, who is in her second year.
“They’re working really hard and trying to encourage the younger kids to work hard and push forward,” Young said. “They’re good role models.”
Right behind McMenemy and Masser is junior Emma Gatoulis, a gymnast who was sidelined last year with a hip injury.
“She’s a really strong kid,” Young said. “She’s been running over the summer.”
Rounding out the top five are freshmen Brianna Caponigro and Sylvie Sanderson. For the first time, Quabbin has three eighth-graders on the squad.
Young is hoping the Panthers can host a return of the Quabbin Invitational next year.
“We like to put on a good show,” Young said. “We look forward to that. It’s a fun thing.”
—Contact Steve Farley at [email protected]
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