Strength in numbers has Sacred Heart cross-country team aiming high

The Convent of the Sacred Heart cross-country family greatly expanded in one year, much to the delight of head coach Brad Miller.

In one season, the team that embraced the small-time family atmosphere, but still posted solid results, nearly doubled in size. Although bigger than ever, the Tigers still plan on keeping that family atmosphere, however now look to make more of an impact this fall season.

“We have the largest team in my four years of being here at Sacred Heart,” Miller said. “We have 17 girls here, which is up from nine last year and seven from two years ago. We have a very motivated and focused group and our expectations are high. Everybody seems to be really close. Although the team is larger, it still feels like a family. We had that feeling before because of how smaller we were, but we actually still have that feeling now with a larger team.”

Last season, the Tigers finished third during the Fairchester Athletic Association, netting 92 points. Hopkins once again won the championship with 23 points. Greenwich Academy took the silver with 42 points. Although Sacred Heart finished with the bronze, CSH top runner Julie Randolph came away with the individual championship.

“We feel that with the added depth that we have right now, we can be very competitive with a team like Greenwich Academy, who in the past have hurt us just simply because of their depth,” Miller said. “They would have a lot of girls running in the 23- or 24-minute range. We would have a few girls under that and a bunch after that. With the amount of girls that we have here, we have a bunch in that range. We expect to be competitive with a lot of the teams in the FAA, but mainly GA.”

Once again, leading the way for Sacred Heart this season is a very familiar face to cross-country running in the FAA. Randolph is back for her senior year and the team captain is looking to end her career as a back-to-back FAA champion.

During last year’s championship meet, Randolph was the fastest female in the varsity race, crossing the finish line with a time of 19.27.8.

“I hope to do as well as I did last year, but I don’t feel a lot of pressure to do that,” Randolph said. “I am just excited to be running again. It’s my third year with the team and I am just really excited to be a captain on this team. I’m not putting too much pressure on me.”

Miller said that Randolph’s work ethic is contagious. Coming into this season as the FAA champion, Miller also said that Randolph works hard to keep her time down, noting that the senior has never missed a practice during her tenure with the team.

“She’s an incredibly talented and devoted runner,” Miller said. “She works so hard off the field and did a lot of mileage over the summer to come into this season in shape. She’s in great shape now and it serves as a motivation for everybody else. She’s also very focal, especially in our practices. She helps motivate the girls and root them on. It gets everybody going. The spirit of the team starts with her.”

“I am really excited for the upcoming season and we have a ton of new runners,” Randolph said. “I am psyched. It’s looking awesome for the whole team. I am excited so many people joined and that there is so much motivation. I think we are going to be really strong this season.”

The Tigers will also be looking for Abbi Wilson and Marguerite Francois to help lead the way. Last year both runners finished the FAA championship in the top 20 and each earning an All-FAA Honorable Mention.

“They got honorable mention last year and we are hoping they will get a top 10 finish and make All-FAAs,” Miller said. “That would be such a great accomplishment. Based on what we see so far, we see good things from them. We need Marguerite to stay healthy this year and that will be a key to our success.”

In addition to the trio, newcomer to the program Jacqueline Thomas is going to add some depth to the team.

“I want this team to enjoy themselves this fall,” Randolph said. “Last year we were small and it felt like we were a family. But we were also really motivated and got through the hard workouts together. This year I want the team to feel the same thing. I want all the girls on the team to appreciate running as much as I do.”

With close to 75% of the team new to the cross-country program, a lot of importance is on the returning athletes who are on the team. Despite the newcomers to the sport, Miller said that they are showing a lot of promise and are listening to all the advice the experienced runners are handing out.

“They’ve been showing the new runners different stretches, different techniques on racing and hill running and they are going over different directions on our home course,” Miller said. “When we go to away meets that all our veterans know, the veteran runners will show them. The veteran runners are making my job as head coach a lot less stressful.”

While the Tigers have a plethora of talent on the roster, Miller still sees some room for improvement.

“We need to improve our speedwork,” Miller said. “It doesn’t seem like we have a lot of speed when it comes to finishing our workouts. What we plan on working on is pacing. A lot of them have been going out a little too hard at the start and not having enough gas at the end. Learning to pace yourself is key for a young runner. A lot of these girls want to shoot out from the start and my goal is to get them to pace themselves.”

When the regular season ends and it’s time for the FAA championship meet, Miller isn’t shy about where he thinks his team will fare.

“We are a top two team,” Miller said. “I think Hopkins, which is the perennial powerhouse in the league, will be a challenge. However, I think this team is up to the task. In order to get to Hopkins, we need to beat GA. We are hoping to beat GA and make a run at Hopkins. Having all those runners now is really going to help us.”

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress