CALDWELL – The Mount St. Dominic Academy cross-country team began its season last week after a successful performance last year.
The Lions were set to open the season in a dual meet Tuesday, Sept. 14 against Newark Academy and Columbia.
Last year, they moved to the more competitive Super Essex Conference American Division, finishing with a 5-3 record and in third place in the American Division championship meet.
“The highlight of last season was for sure getting these girls back on the roads and trails together after a spring/summer lost to COVID-19 in 2020,” said Robert DeCarlo, who begins his third year as head coach. “Every run they were able to do together and every race completed was a ‘W’ as far as I’m concerned. We placed right about where we expected in the SEC and had some nice team wins along the way.”
The team will be led by senior co-captains Juliana Herbst and Victoria Wall.
“They provide excellent leadership for their teammates. As has come to be expected, if not understood, there is a rich tradition of excellence in this program, and that didn’t happen without strong leadership,” DeCarlo said. “Both will also be key members of our varsity seven as well. Both are coming off of excellent outdoor campaigns marked by numerous personal bests in several different events from the 800 meter to 3,200 meter.”
A few other athletes are expected to do well.
“Senior Stephanie Peters returns after a one-year hiatus and shows promise as a varsity contributor,” he said. “Freshman Bella Dressler has been running with the lead pack all summer and will be carefully worked into the varsity rotation as well. Junior Amanda Hayes has shown promise of late, as has first-year cross-country runner junior Gia Bujnowski, and if junior Ava LaBruno can recover from a mid-spring injury, both will slot into the lineup as well.”
The team lost three leaders last year to graduation.
“We lost three strong seniors – our No. 1 runner Carolina Aguirre, who was first team, all-conference, as well as our two co-captains, Elena Tyndall and Lizzie Victori,” the coach said. “Those three led the team on the course and throughout the summer/fall, and their presence will surely be missed.”
The team is still dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
“While this season looks to be business as usual, the COVID protocols and restrictions in place throughout the season are a clear indication that everyone will have to be safe and careful so that we can have a happy and healthy season,” DeCarlo said. “We will look to build on last year but with the understanding that we are still working to recover from time lost 15-plus months ago, too.”
The team has several goals this season.
“An injury- and illness-free season and continued development of the camaraderie that this group has felt in recent years (is one goal),” DeCarlo said. “A .500 or better season would be nice as would a top-three finish in the SEC meet, but individual athlete development and improved times/lowered personal records will be the real indicators of success.”
Mike Vigil joins DeCarlo has co-head coach, and Stephanie Eastman joins the team as the strength/conditioning coach.
The Lions were to take on James Caldwell, Livingston and Millburn on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
- In the News