Not many freshman boys seem to make significant impacts in high school cross country, but freshman girls are a different story.
The last time New Hampshire hosted the New England meet, in 2008, the top nine finishers included four freshmen from Maine: winner Abby Leonardi of Kennebunk, runner-up Emily Durgin of Bonny Eagle, Abby Mace of Maranacook and Fiona Hendry of Cheverus.
All four are running for Division I college programs, at Oregon (Leonardi), Connecticut (Durgin and Mace) and Syracuse (Hendry).
A quartet that talented may never come along again, but there are a few freshmen sure to make an impact in the upcoming conference, regional and state meets.
One of them is Emma Shedd of Cape Elizabeth.
“Because she was always running with the upperclassmen, it was kind of intimidating to break through that pack and run on her own,” said Coach Amber Cronin, in her second year.
At the Festival of Champions in Belfast the first weekend of the month, Shedd ran not with her older teammates but with fellow ninth-graders.
She finished fourth overall, within a minute of winner Anna Guadalupi of Cony, in a time faster than all but one – junior Rhoen Fiutak – of her Cape Elizabeth teammates.
Shedd’s emergence, coupled with the return from shin splints of junior Eva Brydson, helped the Capers place fourth overall in a meet that had them seeded 15th of 51 schools. Sophomore Sam Feenstra and senior Dana Hatton also finished among Cape’s top five.
“Having (Brydson) back is a big asset,” Cronin said. “She’s a major part of our top seven. We had a little bit of a hole for a while but now it’s filled in.”
At the team’s most recent meet, last week in Kennebunk, Shedd led Fiutak for much of the race before settling in four seconds behind her. All of which bodes well for the Capers as Friday’s Western Maine Conference meet kicks off a four-week period that includes regional, state and possibly New England championships, which are back in New Hampshire again.
“Greely is going to be tough,” Cronin said of the WMC favorite. “It would great to win but the girls are more focused on the bigger meets.”
FALMOUTH IS the defending WMC champion for both boys and girls, but will be competing next weekend for the first time in the Western Class A regionals against SMAA schools.
Jorma Kurry, who shares coaching duties with Danny Paul, said the Festival of Champions provided an interesting snapshot of where teams stand, but not an entirely accurate one, given that many seniors were filling in SAT ovals instead of running at Belfast.
“You can see who’s good but you can’t necessarily rule out somebody just because they didn’t finish near the top,” Kurry said.
“It’s too bad but that’s the way the date always falls.”
Falmouth’s girls placed second to Mt. Desert Island, while the Falmouth boys placed fifth behind Lewiston, Harwood (Vt.), Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough.
THE ALL-CITY MEET involving Portland, Deering, Cheverus and McAuley is scheduled for Friday afternoon at Cheverus, the defending girls’ champion. Deering, led by the Somalia-born duo of Yahye Hussein and Iid Sheikh-Yusef, is the defending boys’ champ.
“It should be a very close meet on the boys’ side,” said Deering Coach Frank Myatt, whose father Gerry is the longtime Deering girls’ coach.
“He’s a great guy to have around and ask some questions of,” said the younger Myatt, 22, a recent graduate of St. Joseph’s College who was mainly a javelin thrower at Cheverus High.
SCARBOROUGH COACH Jim Harmon is looking forward to Monday’s SMAA Second Seven meet at Sanford involving junior varsity runners.
The Red Storm boys swept the top six places last year and Windham’s girls also emerged triumphant.
“That’s always a fun one because we can only allow the top seven to run at regionals and states,” Harmon said. “By doing this, it’s a great opportunity for everyone else to have a championship race.”
Scarborough wraps up its regular season Friday in Windham with a meet involving Gorham and Bonny Eagle. Windham’s resurgence has not gone unnoticed.
“It wasn’t that long ago they had trouble fielding a full team,” Harmon said. “So they’ve really come on.”
YARMOUTH’S BOYS fielded only one runner in Friday’s four-school meet at Pineland Farms – sophomore Noah Bradbury. What happened to the rest of the Clippers?
They were not allowed to run, said Principal Ted Hall, who called it a “minor team discipline issue” but declined to elaborate.
Hall said some Yarmouth boys will run at Friday’s conference meet in Standish and “we’ll have a full complement at the regionals.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: