Hope to win fourth consecutive M.L. Freedom division crown, enjoy much success



WAKEFIELD — Head Coach Karen Barrett refuses to call the 2014 season a rebuilding year for the Warrior girls’ cross country team despite losing most of the members of the three-time Middlesex League Freedom division championship and state power.

What Barrett, in her eighth year, wants to see is a new cast of runners take on the pack mentality displayed the group of runners who nicknamed themselves the “Wolves”.

So this season could be a passing of the torch as Wakefield seeks to continue its dominance in the M.L. Freedom division and capture a fourth straight league title. The Warriors went 6-0 overall last year and 5-0 in the M.L. Freedom division.

“Our goal is to win the Freedom division again. With Emily Hammond and Lauren Sallade back, I want to see them carry on the tradition,” said Barrett. “We have two crossover meets against teams from the Liberty division this year. They are also top of the two teams, Woburn and Lexington. So I don’t know if we can stay undefeated and keep that streak going. Our goal is to be competitive against them. They have a lot more depth than we do.”

Hammond and Sallade are both senior tri-captains along with Emily’s twin sister, Joanna. They are the only three 12th graders on Wakefield’s 17-runner roster.

Emily Hammond was a M.L. Freedom division all-star last year and was one of Wakefield’s top runners. Sallade will seek to have a strong year after two injury-filled season. Joanna Hammond returns and will seek to contribute to Wakefield’s point scoring.

The returning juniors on the team are Sara Custodio, Reilly McNamara, Sam Ross, Catherine Urbano, and Marissa Pesce.

There are three returning sophomores on the roster. They are Maeve Conway, Abby Harrington, and Emily Heil.

One sophomore, Jordan Stackhouse, is new to the team. She played soccer last year.

There are five freshmen that are out for the team. They are Sarah Filleaul, Victoria Popp, Gillian Russell, Emmalee Connors, and Hailey Bishop.

“We have returning runners who are probably going to set the table for us,” said Barrett. “They are Lauren Sallade, Emily Hammond, Sara Custodio, Abby Harrington, and Maeve Conway.”

Even though Wakefield has lost the main part of the wolf pack, Barrett is hoping that this newest group will carry on the tradition of the “Wolves”.

“Our goal is to have a winning record and four-peat in the Freedom division,” said Barrett. “There is a chance we can accomplish that if they do we they’re capable of doing. Winning the title again will be difficult. But the girls have put in the hard work with the miles and the camps over the summer. Because they did that, as their coach, I’m able to give them high level workouts. The freshmen are green, but they are coming in and working hard.

“The main part of the wolf pack is gone, but the returning runners are used to the pack mentality. They have been putting in the training,” continued Barrett. “As their coach I believe in them and they need to believe in themselves.”

Wakefield opens up with a crossover meet against Woburn tomorrow and Lexington on Sept.16. Wakefield’s first division meet on in Tuesday, Sept. 23 at Watertown.

“We’ll take it one meet at a time,” said Barrett. “I think we’re going to be in the running (for the league title). I’m happy with our group. We’ll take it one meet at time and take it from there.”

Wakefield hosts Woburn tomorrow afternoon at 3:45 p.m. at the Beasley Course.