Published September 11, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The cross-country teams are back on the trail and are looking to race past the competition this season.
The boys’ cross-country team won the Cape Ann League Small Division title after finishing last season with a 6-4 record. The girls’ team concluded last year with a 3-7 record. With a strong nucleus returning to the fold, both teams have high hopes for the season.
“Both teams worked hard over the summer and the top runners came into the season in great shape,” said Pioneers head coach Joe DiBiase. “The captains have been great at setting the tone of each workout and getting the new runners up to speed with our routine.”
DiBiase said the boys’ cross-country team has an opportunity to build on last season’s success.
“I think the boys can repeat as CAL champs and possibly make the All-State meet as a team,” said DiBiase. “The top pack of runners have been running very well and are healthy.”
Two captains will be leading the Pioneers this fall including junior John Astrofsky. He was named a CAL All-Star last season and finished fifth in the CAL Championship Meet.
“John is no question the fastest and toughest runner I have coached in my 29 years,” said DiBiase. “No one works harder or wants it more than John. He is a true leader and sets the pace of every workout. He came in fifth in the league meet in the worst conditions I have ever seen — muddy, rainy, windy and 45 degrees — in the difficult Woodsom Farm cross-country course in Amesbury.”
DiBiase said senior captain Sam Pifko “is a quiet leader who leads by example.”
“Sam is a very tough, tall and rugged kid,” said DiBiase. “I predict he will be reaching his potential this season.”
Juniors Dylan Pool, Jake Soriano, Mike Dreher, Mike Madden and John Briggs are suiting up for the boys’ team once against this fall.
“They will be in our top eight and I think will determine the success of our season,” said DiBiase. “They are all juniors, great guys, hard workers and loyal teammates. They work well together as a pack of runners. They train well together and hopefully will help us win some meets.”
The boys’ team is welcoming a few promising new runners including freshman John McKrell.
“John looks to be in fantastic shape,” said DiBiase. “He ran middle school cross-country and came in second during our scrimmage meet vs. North Andover. He has loads of potential. He is very coachable and looks to have a great first season.”
DiBiase also has high hopes for freshman Ben Sieve.
“Ben has a lot of energy and speed,” said DiBiase.
Senior Patrick Walsh has switched from boys’ soccer to boys’ cross-country this season. DiBiase noted Walsh excelled at the two-mile during last year’s spring track season.
“Patrick is a very hard worker and a great teammate,” said DiBiase.
DiBiase said the girls’ team has a good opportunity to take a step forward this season.
“I think the girls have an outside shot at making the All-State meet if we stay healthy,” said DiBiase. “Our new runners have really added to the overall speed and work ethic of the team.”
Three senior captains will lead the girls’ team this fall including Cass Shone.
“Cass is the vocal leader of the girls’ team,” said DiBiase. “She is the enthusiastic one of the bunch and a very hard worker.”
DiBiase anticipates senior captain Elizabeth St. Andre “will be the top runner” for the girls’ team this season.
“Elizabeth is consistently in the top pack of all of our races,” said DiBiase. “She has been a top seven Lynnfield runner all four years. She is a steady worker and a tough runner.”
DiBiase said senior captain Sarah Deschenes “is the glue of the girls’ team.”
“Sarah is always there for runners to look up to and is a real guiding force for the new runners,” said DiBiase.
Junior Megan Chann, junior Jen Miller, sophomore Maggie Davidson, sophomore Kayleigh O’Connor and sophomore Julia Seelig are suiting up for the girls’ team once again this fall.
“They are ready to fill in the top and middle spots of our pack of runners,” said DiBiase. “They did a good job with their summer workouts and are just working their way into race ready form.”
DiBiase said freshmen Bella George and Bianca Guarracini are promising new additions to the girls’ team.
“Bella came in second in our scrimmage meet vs. North Andover and Bianca came in fourth,” said DiBiase. “Both have smooth running styles, good form and are hard workers. They also ran middle school cross-country for coach Lexi Buonfiglio, a former cross-country standout for Lynnfield and Stonehill College. Lexi is a volunteer coach for us, so we are starting to reap the rewards of the middle school program.”
Positive team chemistry
DiBiase said team chemistry will be a strength for both squads this fall.
“Our team chemistry is good,” said DiBiase. “There are lots of friendships and camaraderie on the teams. The teams came into the season in a bit better shape then in years past. Both teams have a real great top runner, John and Elizabeth, and an excellent pack behind them. Hopefully the strength of that pack will help them push each other in practice and earn some wins as well as prepare us for the big meets at the end of the season.”
When asked what both teams need to work on, DiBiase said the teams “just need to be race ready.”
“We need to get some races under our belts,” said DiBiase. “Also, since we train mostly on the roads, we have to watch for overuse injuries such as shin splints. We need to get on the grass and turf and visit some parks to train on.”