Sacred Heart X-C looking to gain varsity experience, starting with yesterday’s opener

The Convent of the Sacred Heart cross-country team is hoping that big numbers on the roster will mean high marks in the standings this fall season.

“I see large numbers on the team, but I also see inexperience,” CSH head coach Brad Miller said. “However, I also see a lot of talent here. It’s definitely about where we want to learn the basics of what cross-country training is all about and peaking. For the girls to take that away this season, and to understand how to stay injury-free, is our main objective.”

Seniors Mimi Dunn and Jacqueline Thomas will lead the Tigers this year as co-captains.

“It’s great to be a leader on this team,” Thomas said. “This is my second year and I honestly wish I started earlier. We act like a family and have grown so much. A couple of years ago, we were only seven or eight girls and now we have become a larger program of 18. We have a strong group of runners and we all get along well.”

Dunn said that she was honored to be named one of the captains for the Tigers this season.

“I have really grown to love the team and have become a much better runner,” Dunn said. “All the hard work has really helped me improve my game and get a lot better times.”

Miller said that both captains are very vocal leaders.

“Our two captains are a very important part of the communication for this team,” Miller said. “They might not be the best runners on the team, but they have good leadership and communication skills. They are onboard with all the goals that we are trying to accomplish as a team.”

This season, Sacred Heart will be paced by junior Emma Church, as she has been running the quickest times throughout the preseason. And she was also the last person to commit to the program, as she joined the cross-country team a week before the preseason started.

“She came from field hockey last year and is a first-time cross-country runner,” Miller said. “However she has been running on her own for years. She’s been a part of 5k runs and would cross-train and run on her own. She’s not new to running, but new to running as a competitive sport.”

Miller is also looking for freshman Mackenzie Jordan to have a breakout season. Although she is new to the varsity squad, she’s very familiar with cross-country.

“This is her third year running, as she’s been in the middle school program for seventh and eighth grades,” Miller said. “She was the top middle school runner and we knew that she was going to be an impact runner right from the start.”

Returning to the cross-country team will be junior Abby Wilson, who netted FAA honorable mention the last two seasons. Another junior that Miller has high hopes for is Gabrielle Giacomo, who was Sacred Heart’s No. 5 runner last season.

In addition to Jordan, fellow freshman Hanna Sheehan will be someone that Miller is hoping will score high points for the Tigers.

When the fall season comes to a close, Miller said that he hopes the team will have greatly improved on its speed and endurance.

“Those are what we use the most in races,” Miller said. “Everybody has a good base of endurance, as they could go out and run consistently for about an hour and not be too tired and have to stop. Gaining the speed and being able to hold a consistent fast pace in a competitive race is something we need to improve on the most.”

This season, the Fairchester Athletic Association will have the same group that will be vying for the championship. Miller said that he’s hoping for a third-place finish.

“When I look at the team, I think we are going to be in the middle of the mix for the FAA,” Miller said. “My goal for them is to peak and be a top three team. Hopkins and Greenwich Academy are going to be the biggest threats to win it, but we are hoping to be right there with them.”

Earlier today, the Tigers started its season by competing in the 13th annual Big Red Invitational, located at Somers High School in Lincolndale, N.Y.

The Tigers finished the race sixth overall with 219 points and were only 15 away from eighth place Pleasantville. Bronxville won the event, dominating the competition and finishing with 25 points.

For the Tigers, Church led the way, finishing first on the team and 13th overall with a time of 21:72.96. The next closest Tiger to cross the finish line was Giacomo, who took home 69th overall with a time of 25:31.02.

In third for CSH and 74th overall was Thomas, who netted a time of 25:58.01.

“I see us in the top three in the FAA this year,” Thomas said. “We have a really strong team and our endurance is really good. We try extremely hard and Brad is a great coach who motivates us. We also motivate each other, so when we do a good job on a run, we push each other and cheer each other on.”

Not far behind was Leisl Hennig, who finished 79th overall with a time of 26:06.15. Teammate Katie Nail was 84th overall (26:38.78) and Sheila Moran rounded out the top 100 with a 98th place time of 27:48.27.

In the freshman race held earlier in the day, Sacred Heart had a stellar afternoon. Jordan finished third overall and was the first CSH runner to cross the finish line with a time of 10:42.00.

Right behind her was Hanna Sheehan, who took fourth with a time of 11:09.20. Haley Horn netted 23rd overall and third on the Tigers with a time of 13:01.80.

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