PORTLAND – Twelve days after crossing the Beach to Beacon finish line hand in hand, Kristin Barry and Sheri Piers are joining forces for another running venture.

On Thursday they became the new coaches of the Cheverus High boys’ cross country team, replacing Bruce Bickford, who left after one fall to become head coach at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

Cheverus Athletic Director Gary Hoyt listed Barry as head coach and Piers as assistant. He also said Valerie Guillet, who initially was uncertain about resuming her role as head coach of the girls’ team, would continue in that capacity.

“There has always been crossover in our boys’ and girls’ programs,” Hoyt said. “I imagine it will continue to be a collaborative effort. You could throw a blanket over all three of them and say, ‘They’re our cross country program.’“

Both teams at Cheverus are coming off Class A state championships.

The boys lost four of their top five runners, with senior Jack Terwilliger, who finished seventh in the state meet, the lone exception. The girls return a strong squad led by juniors Emily Durgin, the reigning New England champion, and Fiona Hendry, who finished 13th at the New Englands, the second runner from Maine.

“Everyone on my dad’s side of the family went to Cheverus,” said Piers, coach of the Westbrook boys’ cross country team for the past seven years, “so I’ve always wanted to get over here.”

Piers expressed regret about leaving behind several Westbrook seniors with whom she had worked for many years, but took comfort that the program would be in good hands with Jessica White, who teaches at the high school and also coaches outdoor track.

“Those kids really have made a connection with her, so I feel OK about (the change),” said Piers, who had begun fall practice at Westbrook.

Hoyt pointed out the Catholic connection for Piers with her alma mater, St. Joseph’s, and Barry’s educational background at Dartmouth College and Georgetown Law School, the latter a Jesuit institution.

“So there is a natural segue for them into the program,” Hoyt said. “We were very pleased with the applicants. Cheverus cross country has a long and storied tradition and I hope that we can continue that.”

Piers and Barry met with their new team for the first time Thursday night. Guillet was expected, as well. Interim coach Dan Costigan, an English teacher at Cheverus, had been running practices since Monday’s official start of preseason training.

“I don’t think they have a clue there’s going to be two women coming out (to coach them),” Piers said shortly before her initial team meeting.

Barry is the current Beach to Beacon champion for Maine women, having won it two of the past three years. Piers set the course record for Maine women in 2009. They are training partners and best friends.

“We’ve talked about something like this,” Piers said. “It’s a great opportunity for both of us.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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