Published in the September 13, 2017 edition

THE CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS will be led by, from left, senior captain Eliza Brooks, captain Annie Olsen, Zack Shone, Ryan Iapicca and head coach Joe DiBiase this season. (Dan Tomasello Photo)


LYNNFIELD — The cross country teams have returned to the trail and are looking to take a step forward this season.

The boys’ team concluded the 2016 Cape Ann League season with an 0-10 record. The girls’ team concluded last season with a 2-8 record. Both teams have a number of returning runners as well as promising newcomers this fall, which makes Pioneers head coach Joe DiBiase hopeful about the season.

“We are cautiously optimistic we will be more successful,” said DiBiase. “Our top runners appear healthy and have worked hard this summer. Both teams are deeper and larger than in years past. There are over 30 kids on each team.”

Girls’ team

Two captains will be leading the girls’ team this fall, including senior Eliza Brooks.

“Eliza is a four-year runner,” said DiBiase. “She has a wonderful personality and is a great leader. She sat out of the (Sept. 8) Masco meet due to a foot injury we are monitoring carefully. She is a good hard worker.”

Junior Annie Olsen is the girls’ team’s other captain.

“Annie worked hard this summer in Fernando Braz’s wonderful Going the Distance running program,” said DiBiase. “It really shows that her hard work is paying off. Like Eliza, Annie is a cheerful and upbeat person. She is a great leader and a very hard worker.”

DiBiase said Brie Passatempo will be one of the girls’ team’s key runners this fall. He noted she finished third during the locals’ first meet against Masco.

“Brie took her summer running very seriously,” said DiBiase. “She also worked hard with Fernando. She has a quiet personality and lets her running do the talking. She’s a tough competitor.”

DiBiase has high expectations for sophomore Elizabeth St Andre this season.

“Elizabeth is a good runner who is just scratching the surface of her ability,” said DiBiase. “She looks very strong so far.”

DiBiase said sophomore Cass Shone is a “good teammate who has lots of talent.”

“She is getting faster each week,” said DiBiase.

Newcomers Lucy Madden, Kiera Rothwell and Sarah Deschenes round out the Pioneers’ core.

“All three came aboard this year and give us much needed depth and team spirit,” said DiBiase. “All three new runners are off to a good start and should get better and better.”

DiBiase said the girls’ team “looks pretty solid” this season.

“They seem to have great team spirit and camaraderie,” said DiBiase. “Our top five runners look good as long as we can remain healthy. The captains set a good tone at the start of practice. We have 12 new runners who are either freshmen or upperclassmen.”

Boys’ team

Two captains will be leading the boys’ team this season, including senior Ryan Iapicca. DiBiase said Iapicca is “one of the top runners in the league” who “sets the pace and tone of the workouts.”

“Ryan is a solid four-year and three season runner,” said DiBiase. “He is coming off a strong summer training workout program. He should be a CAL All-Star this year as he has paid his dues. He is a quiet leader who was our top Lynnfield finisher in our meet against Masco.”

Senior Zack Shone is the Pioneers’ other captain.

“Zack has been one of our top five runners the past two years,” said DiBiase. “He’s an experienced and tough runner. He is coming off a knee injury and we hope to have him back this week.”

Junior Steve Dwyer is the Pioneers’ number two runner this fall, DiBiase said.

“Steve has quietly paid his dues,” said DiBiase. “He worked hard during spring track and basketball seasons. He is a very hard worker.”

DiBiase said Joe Fabrizio is poised to have a strong season.

“Joe has worked hard in the preseason and has improved a great deal,” said DiBiase.

DiBiase said the Pioneers have welcomed several new runners, including freshman John Astrofsky. He noted John’s brother David ran on the team four years ago.

“John has loads of talent and potential,” said DiBiase. “He is a tireless worker with an upbeat personality. He will be in our top five. Just like Ryan as a freshman, it’s easy to see he should have a solid cross country career.”

DiBiase said senior Colin Lamusta is a positive addition to the Pioneers. The head coach noted Lamusta is a member of the boys’ tennis team, Theatre East drama program and is a class officer.

“Colin is an energetic and high spirited young man,” said DiBiase. “He has lots of positive energy. He will be in our top. He’s a talented young man.”

DiBiase said the other members of the boys’ team who are “looking to improve on last year’s efforts” are senior Anthony Wilkinson, senior David Henriques and sophomore Sam Pifko.

In addition to having a strong core returning, DiBiase said the Pioneers’ strengths are having a “large senior class.” He said the boys’ team’s freshmen class “is the largest we have had in a while.”

“Team spirit and friendships are high,” said DiBiase. “Drama is low.”

Feeder program needed             

When asked what both teams need to work on, DiBiase said the boys’ and girls’ teams are the “only teams in the league without a feeder program.”

“We need experience and getting new runners up to speed,” said DiBiase. “We need to stay healthy. Most CAL schools have parks or recreation areas to run on. We are mainly on the roads or turf. We have to be vigilant for shin splints and other overuse injuries on the pavement.”

Masco results

The cross country teams lost its opening meet to Masco on Sept. 8.

The boys’ team fell 43-18 to the Chieftains. In cross country, the lowest score wins.

Iapicca finished third during the meet (18:11). “Ryan ran a really strong race,” said DiBiase.

Dwyer finished seventh overall (19:14). “Steven looks much more confident and stronger this year,” said DiBiase.

Fabrizio finished 10th overall (19:37). Astrofsky finished 11th (19:42). Lamusta finished 12th overall (19:45). DiBiase said Astrofsky ran a “great first race” and Lamusta had a “solid first cross country meet.”

“Move those guys up just 30 seconds, and they are seventh and ninth,” said DiBiase.

The girls’ team fell 41-19 to Masco.

Passatempo earned a third place finish against the Chieftains.

“It was a wonderful first meet of the season for a runner who really worked hard all season,” said DiBiase about Passatempo’s performance.

St Andre finished sixth overall during the meet (23:15). Olsen finished ninth (23:45). Shone finished 14th overall (24:57).

DiBiase said he was pleased with both teams’ performance against Masco.

“Overall, I am very pleased with the effort,” said DiBiase. “It will be great to see how they run on our home course.”