Rumson-Fair Haven - Targets on Their Backs
By John Healy
The 2011 Rumson-Fair Haven girl’s cross-country team had a special and historic season, winning its first Meet of Champions in program history. Now they are in the position of defending that title.
The Bulldogs enter the 2012 season with targets on their backs, returning the majority of their top seven runners from their championship team last year.
“We were lucky last year that nobody got hurt,” coach Tim McLoone said. “I don’t see how we can get that lucky again with nobody getting hurt. The best thing we can do now is just not worry about [MOC] and continue to train through our deal and see where we are in a month. But it’s all going to be about health.”
RFH will already be starting the season with out their number two runner, Hannah Anderson, who is recovering from knee surgery she had in the spring. However, top runner Rachel Christ, who finished ninth at the Meet of Champions in her first cross-country season last year, returns and is aiming to make a lasting impression in her senior season.
“We’re just trying to get into the same fitness as last year, if not better, and just have a healthy season,” Christ said. “I’m just so excited for the season, it’s all out, no regrets.”
Fellow senior Michaella Irvine, who was the Bulldog’s third finisher for RFH in last year’s MOC, feels confident about this year’s squad.
“A lot of us seem like we’re in better shape than last year,” Irvine said. “I mean it’s still very early in the season and we haven’t raced yet, but we’re all looking pretty good so far.”
In addition to Christ and Irvine, senior Isabella Maita and junior Courtney Howley expect to be key contributors to this year’s team.
The Bulldog’s first meet will be the St. Dominic’s Invitational in Jersey City on Sept. 15. While the team went under the radar for the first half of last year, this season expects to be different.
“Last year they were the underdogs and came out of nowhere. They thrived on being the underdog and fed off that,” coach Henry Mercer said. “This year will be a little different. Everyone knows who they are now and there’s no hiding out. Expectations are higher.”
While expectations may be higher, the coaching staff is making sure the team doesn’t feel any pressure.
“We want to be in the hunt at the end of the year. That’s our goal,” Mercer said. “We want to try and downplay what happened for us last year and keep the pressure off the girls. If everyone stays healthy we should be a contender.”
John P. Healy is is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with a BA in journalism. He has previously written articles for the New Haven Register and Jersey Sports News and worked as a web producer for NBC Olympics. John ran cross-country for four years at Quinnipiac, and was part of the 2008 NEC Championship team. He is also a former Shore Conference runner, running cross-country and track for Middletown South for four years.
Cover by Mike Dennis for NJRunners.com
Rachel Christ by Dennis Smythe for NJRunners
Hannah Andweson by Maroon News for NJRunners.com
All Others by Mike Dennis for NJRunners.com