Marri O’Connell is a trailblazer. She has paved the way for the girl’s cross country team for years to come, but more so in the fact that she literally has blazed through the trails in every meet this season as a first year member of Marblehead High’s team.
Her most recent accolade came last week when she finished runner-up in the Division 1C State Championships. O’Connell finished the race with a scorching time of 18:35. From the starting gun, she got out quickly and aggressively, pushing the pace in hopes of claiming the top individual finish. O’Connell led the race nearly the entire way, but was finally caught up to after two and a half miles.
Being the determined runner she is, O’Connell did not give up.
Though she placed second, the freshman continued to empty the tank and leave it all on the course. That effort resulted in O’Connell running the 14th fastest womens’ time between all Division races that day. Just as impressivley, she was able to run a faster second half split than the first half of the race, showing her strength and endurance.
O’Connell commented on what was going through her mind after she crossed the finish line, and like most cross country athletes, she said she was just pleased to get there.
“I was just excited that I actually finished that race,” O’Connell said jokingly. “I was sorted of worried at the beginning, but crossing the finish line I was like ‘yes!, Finally done.’”
Prior to the division championships, O’Connell was named to the NEC All Conference team and finished second to Peabody’s Sarah DiVasta for runner of the year.
O’Connell has certainly turned heads with such an impressive freshman season, and Head Coach William Herlihy couldn’t be more proud of her and the growth she’s shown as the season has gone on.
“She brings such a tremendous energy and attitude every day, not only with her work ethic, but she’s just such a fun spirit to have around, and I know that everyone on the team really enjoys her,” he said. “I’d love to see that success continue, but really we’re just grateful to have someone as upbeat and positive as a part of the team.”
“I’m also incredibly proud of Marri’s accomplishments this season, which, especially in the latter half of the season, were a direct result of her hard work in training and her unmatched competitive drive in races,” Herlihy added.”
The star freshman looks to end her stellar season with one more great race at the All-State Championships this Saturday at Fort Devens. O’Connell has her eyes set on a top ten finish, but also notes that she will take whatever finish she gets, just as long as she puts everything she has into the race.
“I think I’m going to try to get top ten, but just try to do my best that day, because there’s good days and bad days,” she said.
Finishing second for the girls was Cat Piper who came in 68th overall with a time of 22:05. The time was not a personal best, but Herlihy noted that it was a substantial improvement from her time on the course in last year’s race.
Senior Captain Isabelle Harvey had the best race of her season, finishing 3rd for her team, and 82nd overall. Harvey’s race was made all the more significant after missing a sizable amount of time due to injury. Her 22:37 marked her best time in over a year, and was close to her personal best. After earning a spot on the varsity roster thanks to her junior varsity victory at the NEC Championships, Freshman Angie Fischer ran well in her first varsity race. Fischer was the fourth Magician to cross the finish line, running a time of 23:25, and cracking the top 100 at 97th overall.
Senior Captain Maya Mahoney (102nd), and fellow seniors Piper Morgan, (108th), and Devin Whalen, (119th), all finished within a minute of each other and rounded out the top seven for Marblehead with times of 23:36.3, 23:48.3, and 24:32.0 respectively.
Senior captain Martha Heffernan, senior Anne Simcoe, and senior Sara Bosio were all alternates for the race and although they did not compete, Herlihy stated that their dedication and support played a huge role in the teams’ success.
“Despite not competing at this race, they trained hard over the last two weeks to stay ready in case they were needed. Their presence and effort in training and support at the meet itself was invaluable to the team’s spirit,” said Herlihy.”