Feverish pace takes on new meaning XC pushes through homecoming races despite illnesses

“Who here isn’t sick?” cross-country team member Julia Lang ’20 asked a group of junior varsity (JV) runners warming up for their race. Three people raised their hands. “No matter how sick any of us feel, let’s all try to do our best,” she said.

The first of the four homecoming races on September 29 began at 1:30 p.m. with boys’ JV followed by girls’ JV, boys’ varsity, and finally, girls’ varsity—each race lasting about 30 minutes. The teams competed against the Groton School, the Brooks School, and Milton Academy on their home course at the Fresh Pond Reservoir—a standard 5k trail with a hill named “Bueno.”

On this sunny morning, the usual team of 60—33 girls and 27 boys—was missing 13 runners, mainly due to a cold that caused symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and congestion. The illness also affected many runners, primarily girls, who showed up to compete despite their discomfort, Co-Captain Talia Belz ’19 said.

In a race with 45 runners, girls’ JV beat both Milton and Groton; Brooks only has a girls’ varsity team. Both boys’ teams beat Brooks and lost to Milton and Groton. 

Helen Cobert ’22, a first-time Upper School cross-country runner, won the JV race with a time of 23:04, shaving five minutes off her previous week’s 5k time.

“I feel tired but accomplished,” Helen said after the race. “It means a lot to me because I definitely had people support me along the way, cheering me on. Even through the tough parts like Mount Bueno, I still felt strong.”

In the girls’ varsity race, Lily Brown ’19 and Julia Noyes ’20 stepped up from JV to replace Jordan Burton ’20 and Ava Fascetti ’19, both out sick, in the starting line-up of eight. 

Lily said she was nervous before the race because of the number of fans but felt satisfied once she had run.

“The feeling of crossing the finishing line, and not being the last one to do it, was incredible,” Lily said. “Though my time did not quite match the amazing lows of other varsity runners, it was a personal best for me, and more than anything I was just honored to be able to represent BB&N.” 

Co-Captain Leyla Ewald ’19 said that no matter how many times you run a course, it is still nerve-wracking. 

“Our team is really strong,” she added before the meet, “and hopefully we can rely on each other to do a good job and push each other.” 

With a time of 21:05, Leyla came in first for the school’s team and third overall, a finish that helped girls’ varsity beat Brooks despite losing to Milton and Groton.

During the same race, Ines Levy ’21 placed eleventh overall and fourth on the team, achieving a new personal 5k record of 21:57.

“The run was terrible,” she said, “but finishing and knowing you did well—that’s always fun.”

Head Cross-Country Coach Charlie O’Rourke said despite managing the cold that has been going around, the team had a successful race.  

“I’m very happy with the way they ran today,” he said.

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