NRHS Girls X-Country Growing Stronger

Published in the October 17, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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With only one of the top seven runners from last year's team lost to graduation, one could forgive Nashoba girls cross country coach Kevin LaCoste for thinking the 2007 squad had a legitimate shot at a league title. But now, with the Chieftains lodged in the middle of the Mid-Wach B pack, LaCoste is also quick to point out that cross country races are not run on paper.

“In this sport, an injury or a lack of adequate training in the summer can change how the team performs,” LaCoste said. “Additionally, teams may get a freshman that impacts an entire team’s performance in a positive way.”

The Chieftains, who were 5-2 overall and 3-2 in the league following last Wednesday's victory over Westboro, certainly have not been immune to injuries. Junior Izzy McKean, one of last season's top performers, has been running with a painful hip, and senior Margy Robinson has been slowed by a knee injury.

But with their sights set on the league championship meet at the end of October and the district meet after that, the Chieftains are focusing on the positives, including a strong showing Saturday at the 16th annual Bob McIntyre-Bay State invitational meet in Boston. Nashoba finished 18th out of 40 teams from across the state, led by Stow junior Molly Porcher (34th place out of 301 runners, with a time of 20:11 for the 5k distance).

“Last year as a sophomore Molly was our number 2 or 3 runner. This year she has quietly been the team's number 1 runner and has won 5 out of our 7 races thus far,” LaCoste said. “She surprises most teams with her quiet demeanor because when the gun goes of she transforms into one of the most competitive runners I have ever coached.”

Other top Nashoba finishers at the invitational were senior Lindsey Horowitz (56th; 20:46) and freshman Chelcie Martin (105th, 21:23), both from Stow.

Of the team's head-to-head victories this season, the 30-27 win over Westboro was particularly satisfying, said Horowitz, a four year varsity runner.

“We've never been able to beat them before, not while I've been here, so that's exciting,” she said.

The Chieftains can also take some solace in the fact that their two losses have come against very strong opponents. Groton-Dunstable, which now has just one loss on the season, defeated the Chieftains on Sept. 12; Gardner, now undefeated at 6-0, came away with the victory on Oct. 2. (Neither Gardner nor Groton-Dunstable competed in the invitational meet on Saturday.)

“Groton Dunstable was one of our first meets of the season, and unfortunately they caught us off guard. They've developed a great program over the last few years and their runners have gotten stronger,” LaCoste said. “The recent loss to Gardner was one that did not come easy to us. They've always been a great team with a desire to be the best.”

Even if a league title isn't in the cards for this season, the Chieftains have laid the foundation for years of future successes. The team, which had merely a dozen members when LaCoste became coach four years ago, now boasts 39 runners. Some of the credit goes to the increasing popularity of cross country at the middle school level, particularly at Hale. And some of the credit, LaCoste claims, goes to runners like Horowitz.

“Lindsey is a reason why the numbers are up. She has been a cheerleader for the sport of cross country from time she arrived here,” LaCoste said. “She has always been a fierce competitor and hard worker.

The team will certainly miss her presence as runner next year.”

Horowitz, for her part, insists she's simply proof of how much fun cross country can be.

“People see how much I love it,” she said, “so that makes them want to do it too.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239