Both teams may have lost some key talent from a season ago, but the 2022 Milton High cross country squads are still plugging along, putting together some noteworthy performances and building back toward the program it once was and still can be.
The Wildcats girls team saw three top runners depart from last fall’s group that finished just four points away from another state title, but have returned a seasoned crop that has picked up the slack.
Katie O’Toole has been the team’s leader all season long, finishing in the top three in each of the team’s regular season meets, highlighted by a personal best time of 19:40 in the Sept. 7 meet versus Wellesley. At the Bay State Invitational on Oct. 8, she finished just outside of the top 10 with an 11th place showing.
O’Toole is bolstered by a strong supporting cast that includes fellow senior Sarah Grace Chave, junior Mia Jilani, and sophomore Megan Carew.
The trio have consistently finished as the second, third, and fourth runners for the Wildcats, each playing huge roles in the team’s wins over Natick and Wellesley as well as their impressive showing at the BSI.
Though no strangers to distance running, senior Zoe Pannucci and junior Garet Glenn are newcomers to the cross country (XC) team and have provided important depth.
Senior Marilyn Roche and junior Kai Quinones are two more upperclassmen who provide strong leadership while sophomore Julie Affanato is one of the anchors of a talented, up-and-coming set of youngsters who provide fans of the program with much to look forward to.
The Wildcats have held their own against the tough Bay State Conference competition and also finished fourth at the Bay State Invitational, giving the rest of the state a glimpse of what they will look like when the championship meets roll around.
“I have seen a lot of improvements among runners which I am proud of,” girls head coach Claire Ritten said. “O'Toole has been leading the team this season. She is an extremely hard worker and always pushes herself to be her best, which influences the rest of the team as well. Chave and Jilani have been the second and third runners, often working together in races [and] Carew and Affanato have both really stepped up this season to be in our top seven after we lost many seniors last year. Panucci, Kai Quinones, and Glenn are all new to XC this year and have been proving themselves throughout the season.”
At the head of the boys pack has been junior sensation Alec Carew. In all five Bay State Conference meets this season, he has placed within the top two, winning the tri-meet versus Walpole and Needham on Sept. 14, competing against Weymouth and Newton North, another tri-meet, on Oct. 6, and pacing the pack in the team’s win over Framingham on Oct. 13.
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