THE MELROSE High league champion girls’ cross country team returns one year after their undefeated season. Pictured is last year’s squad. (file photo)
Undefeated squad looking for repeat this fall
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—After two straight undefeated seasons, it’s understandable that the concept of perfection goes through the minds of the twenty-two runners that make up the 2021 Melrose High girls’ cross country team. Having gone 11-0 in 2019 and 2020, can you blame them?
Melrose returns for the fall 2021 season preparing for their season kick-off on Sept. 21 when they battle Woburn in a non-league meet.
While Melrose graduated 12 seniors last season, they return with six experienced senior runners bound to keep Melrose on the winning side of things. That includes senior captain Charlotte Tysall, Sofia Weissman, Rachel Brooks and Toby Russell, along with seniors Katie Sikkema and Mollie Lytje. “We have six great seniors who are well-bonded and mature athletes,” says Melrose coach Nick Tuccinardi. “They are the heart of the team and they know the culture, traditions and legacy pieces that makes this team unique. They bring a real sense of sportsmanship.”
Some of those team-bonding, pre-season practices have in years past included goat yoga, and this season, a run in the famed Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. It’s that kind of off-the-grid preparation that keeps the team tightly bonded. And they will need that as they embark in a long fall season. Because, unlike their brief fall season in 2021, in which they went 5-0, Melrose will compete in both post season and invitational meets that will take place in September and October. They will return into the statewide fold that saw them crowned the EMass Div. 4 Silver medalists in 2019. They’d like to return to that familiar territory this year.
Look for Melrose standouts like Charlotte Tysall and Jillian Bakey to earn some top spots while their upperclass senior teammates are expected to also keep Melrose in the winning column. Melrose also enjoys a talented and experienced junior class as well. “We have a strong core of 5-6 runners there who compete in a pack,” says Tuccinardi. “We’re excited to see them back on the course.”
Rounding out the roster are Elaine Albuja, Delainey Boyd, Marina Carrieri, Charlotte Corr, Maizie Frakt, Lily Kavanaugh, Addeline Lawlor, Juliet Moore, Ava Piccone, Darby Thompson, Isabel Vogel and Caroline Ward.
While each meet will bring own unique challenge, Melrose will aim to repeat another Middlesex Freedom title. This season they will compete in Div. 2A and hopes to be part of the final four of each division who advance to battle in states. “There are no days off in the Middlesex League,” says Tuccinardi. “In the end, these girls run their own race.”
One particular meet Melrose may have their eye on is Wilmington, a team that narrowly edged Melrose during the spring outdoor track season for a league title. “[Asst.] coach Shannon Kane particularly is looking forward to that rematch,” says Tuccinardi. They will have to wait until Oct. 26 to meet the Wildcats at the end of the season.
Melrose will open their season on Sept. 21 enjoying a few scrimmages prior to it. “It’s sort of a late start which gives us a nice long preseason training,” says the coach. “Things are much different than last season and we hope to make the most of it.”
Stay tuned as Melrose prepares to kick off the season against Woburn on Sept. 21.