‘Team over individual’ motto guides powerhouse MDI girls’ cross country team

Posted Nov. 01, 2013, at 2:22 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Rival coaches can only hope that Mount Desert Island’s dominance of the Class B girls cross country scene subsides after this year’s senior class graduates.

The Trojans’ running Class of 2014 has already won two straight state titles, and they’re favored to win a third at this year’s championship meet for Saturday at the Twin Brook Recreation Area in Cumberland.

While those seniors, Maggie Painter and twins Isabel and Olivia Erickson, will leave behind a considerable cross country legacy no matter the outcome of their final race together in Maine, this year’s merger of experience and youth portends continuing success for coach Desiree Sirois’ program.

Beyond the three seniors on the current squad are juniors Waylon Henggeler and Caroline Driscoll and talented freshmen Lydia Dacorte, Emma Strong, Erin White and Eli Hinerfeld.

Led by the 2-3 finishes of Isabel Erickson and Henggeler, seven of the nine MDI runners placed among the top 13 finishers at last weekend’s Eastern Maine championships in Belfast, where the Trojans decimated the rest of the Class B field by scoring just 21 points — 82 better than their closest competitor.

And that’s with Painter, the team’s top runner, sidelined by illness, and Hinerfeld was an alternate who didn’t race.

Sirois says the team’s strength comes from within.

“I would like to take some credit, but no credit is for me,” she said. “It’s all self-motivation from that [older] group, and what that’s created is a standard of expectations for work ethic.

“Then you get a new group of girls with that same inner drive, and you don’t even have to really practice or preach it, it’s just there. Nobody complains, everybody steps up, and it’s created this culture where you work hard, you have these expectations, it’s team over individual, and you sacrifice.”

Sirois says the major potential challenge facing newcomers to the program is to focus on team rather than individual goals, but she adds that hasn’t been an issue with the current mix of young and old.

“Team over individual, that’s all it’s about,” she said, “and to relax and have fun. If you get too stressed out, that energy is going to go to a bad place in your mind; or it’s going to go to fear, and fear will bring you down. It’s important to stay positive.”

MDI’s bid for a third straight state championship will come at 11 a.m. in the opening race of the day.

That’s followed by the Class B boys race at 11:45 a.m., Class C girls at 12:30 p.m., Class C boys at 1:15 p.m., Class A girls at 2 p.m and the Class A boys at 2:45 p.m..

Each boys and girls state championship team advances to the New England championships at Derryfield Park in Manchester, N.H., Saturday, Nov. 9, along with the next three top-scoring boys and girls teams when all three championship meets are scored as a single event.

In addition, each individual boys and girls state champion also qualifies for the New Englands, as do the next 22 fastest girls and boys regardless of class.

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