Hopkinton High School girls cross country coach Jean Cann welcomed a number of new faces to this year’s team, and the mix of veteran runners and talented newcomers has helped the Hillers place among the top teams in the Tri-Valley League.
Hopkinton handled nearly every team on its schedule this fall with the exception of Holliston, a team Cann said might end up winning the all-state meet. But the Hillers have the depth to give Holliston a run in the postseason, Cann added.
“It’s been nice to get back to normal competition and not have to train in smaller pods with limited numbers,” Cann said, referring to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place a year ago.
“We ran all different courses last year and we didn’t have any invitationals,” she said. “This year we are kind of learning as we are going. We don’t have a lot of experience, but the ones who are here are helping get the others up to speed.”
With all the changes last year and the new runners this fall, Cann said a total of 29 of her girls had never run Hopkinton’s official home course until this year.
Junior Autumn Tumbleton has been a leader for the Hillers all season after a strong showing during track and field in her sophomore year.
“She has progressed all along,” Cann said. “She took part in the summer track program that I started years ago as a preschooler and now she is a counselor. She has steadily improved every year and made it to the all-state meet in outdoor track last year.”
Tumbleton finished first in every dual meet this year except for the race against Holliston.
Senior captain Katie Callery has been the No. 2 runner all year, Cann said.
“She has improved a ton,” the coach added. “From her sophomore year to this year she has taken four minutes off of her time. She just puts in the work, and the results are showing.”
Grace Joy, another senior captain, has overcome some health issues that held her back early in the season to become a consistent top finisher for the Hillers, Cann added. Tumbleton, Callery and Joy have finished 1-2-3 multiple times this fall.
Sophomore Bethel Flanagan is new to cross country this year and has been a strong runner, along with junior Kayla Sawyer and freshmen Avery Sawyer and Elyse Srodawa.
Seniors Kate Beauvais and Lilly Buckley are both new to the program this year and have been able to make a strong impression in their first and only season of high school cross country, Cann said.
The Hillers will be battling many larger schools at the state divisional meet and the all-states, but Cann is confident that her team will stand out.
“It will be a challenge, especially with a younger team,” she said. “But I think they will rise to the occasion.”