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The race to states

The Biddeford High School girl's cross country team qualifies for states for the first time since 1994.

Megan Friel, Editor in Chief

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Exhausted, freezing, and sore, the Biddeford High School girl’s cross country team crossed the finish line at their regional meet with hope in their hearts that states was within arms reach.

The girl’s cross country team faced regionals with one goal set in mind: states. After placing fourth in their regional meet, the team qualified for states for the first time since 1994. The race set off in the early morning of Saturday, November 6th at Belfast. The girls placed sixth at states, which was a big accomplishment for the team. The qualification proves exciting for both Coach Fulford and his team.

“It’s been a really exciting season for them because it’s the first time they’ve qualified for states, as a team, since 1994,” said Fulford. “Last year [we] finished ninth in our conference, and this year we finished fourth.”

According to senior captain Abby Laverriere, the team improved since she began running cross country her sophomore year.

“My sophomore year was my first year, and we barely had enough for a full team,” said Laverriere.  “A full team was 5 people. Last year, we gained Jija [Young], Leia [Dorais], and Riley [McNeil]. Those three really boosted our team.”

The team this year being a little more experienced, as well as a stronger bond uniting them, made all the difference.

I’m so proud of our team. We kind of knew, as of last year, that this year would be really good. Our team isn’t super experienced still, so we’re still kind of getting used to racing, especially in big meets. They trained so hard over the summer and we just all worked really, really hard.”

— Abby Laverriere

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Part of this training included summer practices, as well as individually running almost every day this summer, with the exception of Laverriere, who was out during preseason due to an injury that made her unable to run. According to senior captain Madison Perry, the team ran, on average, over 30 miles a week.

“We had summer practices which were optional, but most kids went because we like being a part of the team, and it’s also nice to run with other people,” said Perry. “Other than that, most people were running every single day.”

The price of working hard certainly paid off for the girls, but states wasn’t the only thing pushing them this year. Redemption resonated in the back of their minds after a bittersweet end to their season the previous year when they didn’t qualify for states by only one spot.

“All the hard work they’ve been doing has really paid off,” said Fulford. “Last year they worked hard, but I think a little bit of [their motivation comes from] them not winning [or qualifying for] states, because they were one spot off from qualifying last year, and the girls really took it upon themselves to train hard over that next year. They dedicated themselves to seeing their improvement.”

Rumors circulated that Fulford would not be coaching again this year, however, Laverriere was not about to let this happen.

“It’s been a somewhat sentimental year because our coach wasn’t sure if he’d be coaching us,” said Laverriere. “Last year, when we didn’t qualify for states, I remember telling coach, ‘I’m not ready to be done. We need to do more.’ When he decided to continue coaching us, I was so happy. I knew he was going to be taking us to states.”

In addition to the top nine teams in the state qualifying, the top 30 runners in the state are able to qualify individually to run at states as well. Perry, Laverriere, and junior Leah Dorais all qualified individually. However, Perry was more pleased with the teams placing at regionals.

“It was more of a surprise to hear that we were fourth, because we knew that we were good, but we didn’t know that we were that good,” said Perry. “Finding out that we were with the top teams was really exciting.”

With track season approaching, the running days aren’t over for many of the seniors, such as Laverriere and Perry, but they’ll remember this cross country season as one for the books.

“It was painful and torturous some days, but over the course of our meets we got stronger,” said Laverriere. “We were working on packing up and working together during meets, and we’ve really gotten close. With all the work we’ve put in, we just really want to show people what we can do.”

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The race to states