THE 2022 Wakefield High girls’ cross country team is ready to make a run at defending last season’s Div. 2A state championship title. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
WAKEFIELD — The 2021 Wakefield High girls’ cross country season wasn’t just memorable; it was historic.
Wakefield won the Div. 2A girls’ cross country state championship, the first champions in the MIAA’s new format of statewide meets.
This season, Wakefield is hungry for more.
The Warriors return five of their top seven runners from the state meet, led by senior captains Devon Jellison and Maddie Nett.
“They have both been doing a great job,” said head coach Karen Barrett of her leaders. “We are working hard everyday and have had some great workouts.”
Nett was the 2nd Warrior to cross the line at states and 8th overall. She was a league All-Star as a junior last season.
Returning juniors Charlotte O’Neil and Lexi Yianacopolus were the 3rd and 5th Warriors to cross the line. O’Neil was a league All-Star as a sophomore last year. Jellison and returning sophomore Grace Brackett were 6th and 7th.
Together, they create a powerful foundation for Wakefield to accomplish their annual goal of “pack running,” in which a typically individual sport turns into a team effort where depth conquers all.
The Warriors have that depth with multiple student athletes. Junior Julia Welch returns from last year’s team and is running well according to Barrett.
Also back is junior Maeve Schermerhorn, who Barrett says, “definitely did her summer running and has improved tremendously.”
Maggie Barnard is a returning junior who the coach says is working hard.
New to cross country is sophomore Lily Sallee, a standout in the mile for the Wakefield outdoor track and field team, who Barrett says is “running great.”
“We also have three new juniors and four new freshmen that are really working hard,” said Barrett. “Cross country is won by fast, pack running. We have a strong group and I am hopeful for a fantastic season.”
Even without the graduated Sammy Seabury, last year’s individual state champion and now a freshman competing with the BU cross country and track and field teams, the Warriors aren’t shying away from dreaming big in 2022.
“Losing Sammy Seabury, an absolute superstar, is obviously going to make it more difficult to capture a state title but we have a great team, that absolutely has a shot at a great showing at states if they perform to their potential,” said Barrett.
With Nett, Jellison, O’Neil, Yianacopolus and Brackett leading the way, the Warriors know they have the talent and work ethic to compete with anyone.
“Our main goal is to win the league title,” said Barrett. “We will definitely have great competition for that. We will face Melrose on their home course right out of the gate so that will be a true test.”
Wakefield, Melrose and Wilmington all split the Middlesex League Freedom Division crown last year with identical 4-1 records. Melrose and Wakefield will race on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. Wilmington and Wakefield will conclude their six, dual meet seasons on Tuesday, Oct. 25 in Wilmington.
The Warriors will begin their campaign against Liberty Division opponent Woburn this Tuesday at home, 4 p.m.