Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Needham Track Club Finishes High at Nike Cross Regional Championships!

In a late season decision, the girls' cross country program decided to attend the Nike Cross National (NXN) Northeast Regional Championships to test their meddle against the best programs east of New York and North of Maryland and Delaware.  The regional meet is used as a qualifier for the national championships to be held this coming weekend December 2nd in Portland, Oregon.  The NXN meets are not high school sanctioned and therefore the usual Needham Rockets competed under the pseudonym Needham Track Club and were under the watchful eye of Mike Turner as head coach.

Coach Turner had the following to say leading into the meet: "We went to Nike Northeast with the dual goal of having fun and celebrating the season, but also competing and finishing strong.  We knew we were up against the top teams from the eight northeast states including each state champion team.  When talking to the girls the night before the race, we decided that a top 20 finish would be great, and a top 10 finish would be epic."

And compete they did finishing 8th in the Championship race with 246 points, just four points away from 7th.  The team was led as they have been the last three meets by freshmen Margie Cullen, Julianna Donovan and Sarah Armstrong all recording top 40 finishes.  Senior captains Caroline Turner and Hallie Armstrong rounded out the scoring in 83rd and 128th places respectively and senior Erica Koljonen came across the line 198th.  In the girls' Open race, Needham TC also had solid performances from junior Daria Fortin and sophomore Claire Connors finishing in 63rd and 163 place.  In the boys' open race, junior Alex Elman placed 83rd as the only Needham athlete to toe the line.

To illustrate just how much this group of girls has improved over the course of the season as well as come together as a team when the stakes were high we can look to their early season performances as a comparison.
          * On September 22nd at the Amherst Invitational, Needham lost to Amherst 99-139. 
            At NXN Needham TC beat the Amherst Polar Cows (17th place) 246-410.
          * On October 6th at the Thetford Invitational, Needham lost to Champlain Valley Union
            (Vermont) 70-144.  At NXN Needham TC beat Champlain Valley XC Club (9th place)

The previous two stats really describe the last four weeks of the season beautifully.  The Rockets may not have won every meet they entered but they sure as heck didn't lose them either.  In the words of Coach Turner, "On race day, the girls did what they have done all year; they raced to an epic eighth place finish and then broke into an impromptu finish line dance party"

Full results can be found at: http://www.runnerspace.com/news.php?news_id=65518-2012-Results-NXN-Northeast-Regional

Sarah and Julianna

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