Boys and Girls Harriers Wrap up Strong Cross Country Seasons
David Schurter 11/25/20
The fall sports season is officially behind us as the boys and girls harriers look back on what was a great cross country campaign overall. Given the circumstances in 2020 with the global pandemic, required mask mandate, social distancing, and no large gatherings such as pasta parties, this cross country season was not ideal like past seasons, but it was definitely a blessing to be able to have a season without a pause. Both teams put in their best effort every day to go out and compete at the highest level and they were rewarded with a full season.
First let’s break down the boys season. The boys were ranked #32 in the state heading into the season back in August. Do preseason rankings really mean anything? No. But do they motivate teams to improve? Absolutely. All summer and really since early May, the boys put in the work as well as the mileage to improve and they were ultimately rewarded with another Freedom Division title. First they defeated Watertown decisively, then followed that up by beating a young Melrose team on the rise, two weeks later beating Stoneham and finally capping it off taking down a tough Burlington team. “It was definitely not the season we envisioned, but I’m actually sort of glad. We were definitely much closer together as a team this year, and it’s a special season to remember” says captain Jonathan D’Ambrosio. Having been on the team the past four seasons, D’Ambrosio knows the tradition of Wakefield cross country and the importance of commitment. “Being on this team for four years, we were all very aware of how important summer training is, and we knew we still had to do our best to train for a season that we were uncertain would even happen. It wasn’t easy, but we made sure the team took it one day at a time.”
Despite having no MIAA state tournament like in normal years, the MSTCA hosted the first ever MSTCA Cup, where teams from all across the state competed in what was considered to be the super bowl of cross country in 2020. Ten boys suited up for this meet, including all of the top seven. Even though the races were not in hundreds like in past years, it was still a highly competitive meet as the boys looked to run the fastest times to finish above the rest of the division 3 teams. Overall the boys finished third among D3 teams behind strong Marblehead and Oliver Ames clubs, and were ranked as the second division 1 all state team returning from a year ago behind a talented St. John’s Shrewsbury team. To cap off an impressive season, the Warriors named six of their runners Middlesex League All Stars, showcasing their depth. Those included captain Jonathan D’Ambrosio, sophomores Ben Stratton and Leith Jones, juniors Thomas Dowd and Ajay Haridasse, and senior Colin Rudy.
The girls team came ready for the season after a long period of summer training. With a new season came new faces too as the girls added more depth to their roster with the additions of two seniors and seven freshmen as the future looks bright for this group. Despite the different circumstances this season from past seasons, the team still came together to compete every week. The girls began their season with a win at Watertown, followed by a tough loss to a highly competitive Melrose team, but then finished off the season with back to back convincing wins against Stoneham and Burlington to finish 3-1. The girls also named three Middlesex League All Stars that included captain Elina Olmedo, junior Sammy Seabury and sophomore Maddie Nett, as they were rewarded for their impressive seasons. “Running high school cross country has changed my life in ways that I never imagined” said captain Elina Olmedo. “I am happy to say that this sport has surrounded me with a number of things that I extend my sincerest appreciation to.” Above all, Olmedo, along with the rest of the seniors are most thankful for the relationships they have built during the course of their four seasons together. “Through all of the highs and lows, I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the teammates, friendships, and memories that have been made over the course of four years.”
With all that has happened in the year 2020, to have a full cross country season was definitely one of the best moments of the year. During the summer, it seemed unlikely that any fall sport would run, but determined to fit every sport in, the MIAA and board of directors called for a delayed start to the season, allowing everyone to prepare for the fall. This gave the boys and girls teams more time to train for the season and it all paid off in the end. Hard work pays off and these two teams have been grinding since early May to reach this point. To be able to have the motivation to continue training during the middle of a global pandemic with the uncertainty of a season even happening is impressive, and these Warriors deserve a huge amount of credit for their success this season. Now it is time to transfer that success to the indoor track season! As always, it is a great day to be a Warrior!