Cross country success leads to large turnout

Last season, Bainbridge fielded its largest cross country team in school history (70), and this year, with the team’s only participant in the state tournament returning, an even greater number of Bainbridge students joined the team.

This year’s squad has 78 members, and it is a young, hungry team, said head coach Anne Howard-Lindquist.

The runners cited the coaching staff’s presence at the middle school as a primary reason for the large turnout.

The team is looking to improve on its sixth place finish for both the boys’ and girls’ sides in last year’s district meet. The key to improvement this year is finding stability throughout the squad.

“We have a pretty strong top of varsity, but getting to state is about getting consistency from seven to 10 runners,” said senior Emily Barreca.

Howard-Lindquist said that kind of consistency is developed in the offseason. With so many freshmen on the squad this year, it was difficult to get the whole team in for conditioning, but at least 20 runners participated, Howard-Lindquist said.

Luckily, Howard-Lindquist said, in cross-country, unlike most sports, the league and district races define the season. Dual meets and invitationals are events to build up endurance for the more competitive final races.

The runners agreed that the team performed well in the final races last year, but this team should be better.

“Last year we had a lot of new people,” said senior Annie Taylor, who qualified for the state tournament last season.

“It was more about building for this year,” said junior Lauren Abrams.

Abrams, Taylor and Barreca are the returning girls captains. Their goal is to help the approximately 40 girls on the team develop enough to take the team to the state race. Only the top two teams from each district make the state race. Howard-Lindquist said the district often produces some of the top teams in the state. Last season, Seattle Prep took second in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions in state.

On the boys side, senior Willie Wenzlau returns to the team after taking last year off. Howard-Lindquist said he will be a huge addition to the team. Juniors Sean LaBelle and John Murphy are the other two captains.

Howard-Lindquist said many of the boys could speed up their times as the season progresses. She said with the right amount of dedication, the boys side could have a more consistent squad from top to bottom.

“The potential factor is there,” Howard-Lindquist said. “With a lot of hard work that can make a difference.”

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