Cross Country 2020
December 5, 2020
The Road to Champions
Abington Girls Cross Country Team shows resilience despite Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many student athletes, with their seasons being cut short, having to wear masks while participating, and maintaining many federal and state regulations. Despite these difficulties, the Abington High School Girls Cross Country team showed drive throughout their season. Covid-19 was not going to stop them from accomplishing their goals.
For cross country veterans, the meets were very different from in years past. Due to social distancing, not all athletes could compete in the same heat together. Therefore, the team was split into two groups to race.
This season was unlike any other for the coaches as well. When asked how he prepared for this season, Coach and Abington Middle School teacher Matthew Campbell said, “I had to scratch all of the plans I had mapped out over the summer and just accept the flexibility and that things were going to change on the fly. This season I put less emphasis on the logistics of running and more on the camaraderie, team support, and the wellbeing of each individual athlete.”
At first, the new restrictions and rules were a hassle, but athletes like Jaqueline Earner ’22 kept a positive outlook on their season. “Wearing the masks while running were an obstacle that we had to face. However, it got easier overtime” she said.
The team had to make even more adjustments this season. When Superintendent Peter Schafer sent out an email and call on Monday Oct. 26, stating that on Tuesday Oct. 27 the District would shift to the remote learning model for two weeks due to the increased number of Covid-19 cases in Abington, this meant that every high school sport was suspended until the district returned to the hybrid learning model.
Coach Campbell said he “had an emergency meeting the night we found out that school was shut down for at least the next two weeks, and we discussed that this season might never return. I asked them point blank if they were all willing to keep fighting and training despite having no idea of a future return. Without thinking twice, in unison, they all said they want to keep going, keep fighting, and keep pushing themselves.”
Campbell said that, “at that moment, I knew this team was special and could potentially make history. That will remain as one of the highlights of my coaching career.”
During the period of remote learning, Coach Campbell gave the girls a structured program of workouts to follow in order to stay in shape. Not knowing if their season was going to continue, every girl kept training and held onto hope that they would finish out their season.
Mia Scarpelli ’22 said, “Coach gave us a tempo run one day and I set a personal record giving me the motivation that if I can do this now, I can do this when we return.” To hold each other accountable, the team used an app called Strava where each girl could track and post their runs for the team to see. Also, each teammate could give a “thumbs up” on their posted run to show support and motivate each other during the remote learning time period.
Hannah Tirrell ’23 said, “Although this was a set back, the team was able to treat it as an opportunity to work even harder and to come out of this stronger.”
On Wednesday Nov. 11, sports could resume. They traveled to the South Shore League Championship meet at Middleborough. The team hadn’t trained together or competed in a meet in over two weeks. Earner ’22 said, “The team environment calmed us down because we always play music before every meet.”
The song they sang at their last meet was Low by Flo Rida and T-Pain. It had been a tradition for the girls to listen and dance to this song to relax them and get them hyped before every meet. They never knew all of the words, so for their last meet against Randolph they each learned a verse of the rap and performed it together.
Although Covid-19 may have disrupted the season, the team had many takeaways from this season. Madison Carini ’23 said, “This has been the most connected and comfortable team I have been on. I was never being judged.”
Teammate Gabriella Maciel ’22 said, “We never knew if there was going to be practice the next day, so it made us appreciate the time that we spent together.”
Although the two-week shutdown was not ideal, Allison Lindvall ’23 said, ” Being together again felt better than it did before the shutdown.”
Earner said, “Middleborough was one of my favorite meets because after our big win there was a moment of realization that not only did we have great team spirit but we also had a lot of talent.”
Coach Campbell said, “The success of this season was not only from one person but instead came from a complete buy-in from all of these athletes.”
Earner ’22, Scarpelli ’22, and Selena Wood ’24 were named South Shore League All Stars.
If interested in joining Cross Country next fall, contact Coach Campbell at [email protected].
Elizabeth Roy is a member of the class of 2021. Along with a handful of senior staff members, this is Roy's fourth year on the Green Wave Gazette. Roy's...
Abington Girls Cross Country Clinches South Shore League Title
For many student athletes, the 2020 fall season was entirely questionable. The COVID-19 pandemic not only cut seasons short, but also got rid of the opportunity for champions to arise. This wasn’t the case for this year’s powerhouse AHS girls cross country team.
On Friday, Nov. 20, the eight-person team made history by becoming the South Shore League Champions for the first time since 1979, 41 years ago. This win was one for the history books.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MIAA State Championships for the fall season were cancelled. This meant that the team only had a short amount of time to reach League Champion status, and that they hard to work even harder to get there.
Junior captain Jackie Earner said, “The fact that we were sort of the underdogs every single year pushed us, and then all of a sudden it was like, ‘We’re winning, that’s crazy!’ We just really wanted to prove that we were the best team in the league.”
Going into the race, junior Mia Scarpelli said, “I definitely was anxious before I ran, but I took out all my nerves on the course.” The stakes were high. Luckily, the team’s fastest runner was able to show up and show out, and bring home a championship title with her teammates.
Some of the athletes said they had a bittersweet feeling during the meet that marked the end of a season. Sophomore Maddi Carini said, “I was sad, mainly because I knew that this was the last meet, but I was also excited to just give my best out on the course.” Junior Gabby Maciel added, “You always want all of your teammates there for your last meet. If you don’t have one person there, it makes such a difference, especially because each person has their own sort of role on the team.”
Coach Campbell noted the fact that the Championship title gave a sense of closure to the team that many teams last year never got. “We usually have that routine of the big meets under the lights and major moments like those. “To know that this (the meet) was the last one, where everything is on the line, that feeling of excitement and closure was a nice way to end for sure,” he said.
A nice way to end, indeed. As the girls got ready for what was going to be a historical race, their preparation was actually different from what one would think. Although the team put in the miles and the hard work, getting into the right headspace and having some fun before the race mattered too. “Dancing will help,” said sophomore Hannah Tirrell, “We needed that to get ourselves going and to get our energy up.” The team actually set up a mini choreography routine to the song “Low” by Flo Rida and T-Pain to shake out their nerves and just have some fun before races.
If there was anything that was the most memorable for the team, it was the fact that they won the first XC League Championship for AHS since 1979-in the midst of a pandemic. The girls all agreed that they had put in more miles than ever before, and even with such a small team it paid off in the end. “It was definitely rewarding. To have a title like this one is kind of an amazing feeling.” said Scarpelli. Coach Campbell agreed without hesitation, saying “To have this happen during one of the most challenging years for everyone is remarkable. It’s a reflection of the work that these girls have put in, and it was absolutely earned. It’s unreal, but not surprising.”
The girls team actually had faster times during this “COVID season” than they had ever had before, which is an impressive feat considering the circumstances. Sophomore Allison Lindvall said, “People can look at our season and say ‘This season was different, so the team could have just snuck in to success’, so to speak, or they can say ‘Yes, this season was hard but they still pulled it off.'”
When the races mattered the most, the team turned to their junior leadership comprised of Earner, Scarpelli, and Maciel. Together the veterans made sure that no one was too stressed out and that they all felt ready to face Randolph. Maciel said, “Our number one job is to make sure that the underclassmen know that we’re supporting them and that they can always come up to us for anything at all.” Selena Wood, the only freshman on the team, felt the support from the first day on the team all the way to the SSL meet. “I was nervous at first, but the team has made me feel welcomed since day one. I just had to put the fact that I’m a freshman aside and try my hardest.” she said. Coach Campbell said, “We rarely use the word ‘rookie’ because once we start practice, it really seems like everyone just gels together as a team. It never seemed like there was ever a newcomer or outsider, so props to the veterans for creating that environment.”
That supportive environment may have created the most memorable moment for the girls while they were battling Randolph. Hannah Tirrell went into the race not knowing how she was going to perform due to a leg injury. She and Maddi Carini ran together for the majority of the race, with Tirrell unsure if she was going to finish. About a hundred meters away from the finish line, her leg gave out and she collapsed. Carini doubled back and supported Hannah all the way to the finish line-where both girls still set PRs even with the setback. “I thought to myself, ‘I can see the finish line- I have to finish.’ It was all I could think about. When Maddi came over though, I realized I didn’t know if I would have made it without her.” said Hannah, “I think the photo they got perfectly summarizes our whole season, how we all helped each other through everything.”
When asked about who they would attribute their successes to, the entire team said Coaches Campbell and DiPrizio. “It is so important to always have someone rooting for you, and it eases our minds when we know that we can rely on our coaches. They fostered our environment of success. ” said Earner. Campbell echoed the appreciation, saying “There is nothing better than seeing people work hard towards a goal and achieving that goal. I am so grateful to be able to work with this team, and I have the greatest job in the world.”
This team made history on a multitude of levels, and there looks like there will be great successes for them in their future.
Maria Wood is a member of the Class of 2022. This is her third year on the Green Wave Gazette since she joined as a freshman. During March of her sophomore...