Published in the September 16, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — With a strong nucleus of returning runners and promising newcomers, the cross country teams are looking to take a step forward in the competitive Cape Ann League this fall.
The girls’ team concluded the 2014 CAL season with an overall record of 4-6. The boys’ team concluded last season with a 3-7 record. With both teams returning a strong nucleus as well as welcoming a number of new faces, the Pioneers are optimistic about the fall season.
“This is our largest team to date with almost 40 girls and 35 boys,” said Pioneers head coach Joe DiBiase. “As usual, we have a terrific group of nice kids, some good young talent and some strong returning runners. We’ll see if we have the depth at the varsity level, as we have many new runners to the sport. We’re hoping that our top runners can mix it up with the best runners in the league. I think we will have some growing pains as we break in some of our new runners. Many of our new kids have never run more than a 1/2 mile before, so this is really a new experience for them.”
Two senior captains will lead the girls’ team this fall, including Marie Norwood.
“Marie is only a second year cross country runner, but she is very, very talented,” said DiBiase. “She qualified for the All State meet last year as a junior and rookie runner! She should be a CAL All Star and should qualify for the All State meet again.”
Senior captain Danielle Collins is one of the most experienced runners on the Pioneers.
“Danielle is a four-year, dedicated runner,” said DiBiase. “She struggled through some injuries the last few years, but looks strong this year. She is a wonderful leader and is terrific with the new runners.”
DiBiase also has high hopes for senior Lea Tremblay.
“Lea is a senior who has run four years and looks to be in great shape,” said DiBiase. “She has been our number two runner in time trials.
DiBiase said juniors Nicole Casaletto, Bella Herook, Ellen Welter and Christina Irrera “should place in our top 10.” He said sophomores Rachel Badger, Eliza Brooks and Julia Borriello are “off to a great start as well.”
The Pioneers also have three promising new runners in freshman Annie Olsen, sophomore Kylie Patten, junior Lila Alaka.
Similar to the girls’ team, the boys’ team will be led by two senior captains this fall. The captains are Connor Reardon and Alex Dalelio.
“They both are four season runners and ran a lot over the summer,” said DiBiase. “They are great kids and strong leaders. They are terrific with the new runners as both role models and mentors.”
DiBiase said Dalelio was the locals’ top runner last year.
“(Dalelio) is a very dedicated runner who runs three seasons a year,” said DiBiase. “He’s a very good captain and always thinks team first.”
DiBiase said Reardon is the Pioneers’ “most improved runner” this fall.
“Connor is a solid, dedicated, responsible and a devoted runner who runs many local 5Ks each year,” said DiBiase.
DiBiase also has high hopes for sophomore Ryan Iapicca.
(Iapicca) is a very, very talented runner,” said DiBiase. “Great finishing kick, terrific team first attitude and is an emerging leader.”
DiBiase also said sophomore Zach Shone has a “great stride” and is a “very hard worker.” He also said seniors Joe Motzkin and Kyle Mahon “have run three seasons of track for four years.”
Additionally, the Pioneers are welcoming two promising newcomers this fall in freshman Stephen Dwyer and sophomore Dan Jameson.
DiBiase said the number of runners on both teams and the runners’ positive outlook are both teams’ biggest strength this season.
“Both teams have good leadership, great attitudes and large numbers,” said DiBiase. “They are a close, hard working group of real nice friends and runners. Many of these kids are honor students and involved in clubs and activities.”
While the Pioneers have high hopes for the fall season, DiBiase said both teams need to continue working hard to get better. He said himself, assistant coach Bill Wallace and volunteer coach Dylan Rizzo are committed to helping both teams improve.
“We are getting stronger as the practices go on and the miles pile up,” said DiBiase. “They will be tested in the big meets where a daily workout is replaced with a real cross country race.”
The Pioneers will compete in a tri-meet against Newburyport and Ipswich on Wednesday, Sept. 16, beginning at 3:30 p.m.