Thursday, November 16, 2017
A year ago, the R-MA Middle School girls’ cross country team didn’t exist. The lone female runner from the previous two years ago had opted to join volleyball instead. No one else stepped forward to try the grueling sport. It seemed its time as an R-MA Middle School sport had ended.
But a new school year brought new faces to R-MA, and six students—Sam Bai ‘23, Lisa Fei ‘22, Katie Reagan ‘24, Ima Enodien ‘23, Amy Lin ‘22, and Yizhen Ella Ye ‘24—came together to form a full middle school girls’ cross country team for the first time in quite a few years. In fact, the team had more runners than they needed, because in cross-country, only the first four are counted in the meet; the first three score points, and the fourth runner can displace the runners from the other team. As any sports coach will tell you, depth matters, and that is true for cross-country as well.
Not only were the six girls new to R-MA cross country this year, but so was their coach, Haley Coloso, who was new to the sport in general. However, under the excellent tutelage of varsity coach Joshua Ilnicki, and the superb assistance of her assistant coach, Col John Casserino, Coloso was able to guide her team to defeat local powerhouses who had held the top spots for years, including St. Joseph’s School of Martinsburg, WV. “Both of them [Cassarino and Ilnicki] are much more experienced runners than I am and have helped immensely with technique and training,” she said.
Overall, the girls were undefeated in the Valley Middle School Conference, and they claimed first place for both the season and the championship meet. In doing so, the team defeated not only St. Joseph’s, but also Chelsea Academy, Mountain View Christian School, Wakefield Country Day School, and Front Royal Christian School.
Coloso gave credit to the team’s grit. “It’s all the athletes,” she said. “They are driven. They want to win and they work hard.”
Bai was the top runner for the R-MA team and consistently placed in the top three in each meet; not surprisingly, she was named MVP of the team. Fei and Coaches’ Award winner Reagan traded places for the second and third team spots, and stayed within the top ten in every meet. Enodien and Lin each helped displace other teams’ runners throughout the season. Perhaps best of all, the girls consistently dropped their times, setting personal records on a regular basis. There is nothing more a coach can hope for, or a runner can ask of herself.