Friday, September 8, 2023

Expectations high for WHS cross country squads

By Ed Pierce

Under the guidance of veteran coach Jeff Riddle, Windham High School is looking for another strong season for cross country runners in 2023 and continuing to demonstrate why the team remains a tough challenge on the schedule for competitors across the state.

Windham senior Graden Joly is
expected to provide leadership
and be one of the top cross
country runners for WHS during
the 2023 season.
Riddle, a former SMAA Coach of the Year, is effective at developing runners to reach their full potential and motivating his teams to excel year after year.

This year will be no exception, according to Riddle.

“WHSXC (Windham High School Varsity Cross Country) Girls and Boys teams are harnessing and focusing their excitement to best compete this fall,” Riddle said.

This year’s team is made up of 33 dedicated runners with 14 girls and 19 boys, and the coach says that both the boys’ and girls’ squads are excited to once again have foreign exchange students contributing as team members on both rosters.

“This summer at WHSXC Camp a number of the runners spent time effectively learning some new ways to consistently train; and the team is already experiencing the benefits of the time put in over their summer,” Riddle said.

According to Riddle, Windham’s returning cross country veterans recognize that they will need to lead their new teammates and elevate them to fill some of the top 7 scoring gaps left vacant by last year's graduates.

“The 2023 team is up to that challenge,” the coach said. “To date, the team had a great showing at the Dan Dorr's Lake Region Invitational race where the girls were team champions, and the boys earned a respectful second-place finish.”

He said that the teams are looking forward to each race opportunity in front of them.

“They will compete in large invitational races again this fall including The Southern Maine Classic in Gorham and the Festival of Champions in Belfast to name a few,” Riddle said.

Among the top returning runners for Windham’s cross country girls’ team this fall are junior Tayla Pelletier and senior Beth Bearce, while the boy’s squad will feature senior Graden Joly and junior Andrew Young.

To date in her prep career, Pelletier has recorded a personal best time of 17:31.40 at 4,000 meters at the Freeport Falcon 4K Cross County Challenge, and Bearce has posted a personal best time of 23:17.00 for 5,000 meters at the SMAA Meet at Portland.

Joly has set a personal best time of 14:22.00 at 4,000 meters at the Freeport Falcone 4K Cross Country Challenge and Young was first in the State Championship meet in a time of 18:39.85 as a sophomore.

On Sept. 8, Windham will travel to compete in a meet at Biddeford and then journey to Narragansett for the Fleet Feet Classic on Sept 16.

On Sept. 22, the Eagles host Westbrook/Sanford/Thornton Academy and will compete in the Festival of Champions on Sept. 30. The Eagles then travel to face Scarborough on Oct. 6 before the regional meet on Oct. 21.

The State Championships will be held in Belfast on Oct. 28. <

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