NORTH EASTHAM — One of the best – and worst – aspects of high school sports is that each team faces a revolving door at the end of every season. It’s almost always a bittersweet process as teams watch some memorable and impactful seniors graduate and leave the team while newcomers join and take their place.
The Nauset Regional High School boys and girls cross-country teams are both going through changes, though to different degrees. While the boys team lost one of the best runners in program history, Finn Riley, to graduation, the team has the luxury of bringing back a deep group of seniors this fall.
The Nauset girls, meanwhile, lost a strong group of girls to graduation and view this fall as an opportunity to reboot the program.
“The bulk of the boys team is seniors and for them, it’s like, ‘Let’s punch it in the best we can,’” said Moira Nobili, who coaches both Nauset boys and girls cross-country teams. “The girls are learning and developing and they like it. Right now, you’re starting to see the girls develop and, even though they’re not at their peak, they’re getting it and they’re really doing it.”
The boys team is led by a senior of trio captains – Chatham resident Will Mulholland and Orleans residents Ben Calsson and Jeremiah Pranga – and holds a 2-1 record in dual meets.
“We’re experienced and we know how to run the race,” Calsson said about the group of seniors. “I’ve waited a while to jump up to the top position, so it’s been nice.”
“We’ve been doing this since freshman year,” Mulholland added. “When we came in, it was like an influx of new guys to the team, but now it’s our senior year and the majority of the team is made of seniors.”
The girls team has just two seniors, Katie Farrell and Molly Keigans, and holds an 0-2 record.
“It’s really a new team but everyone works really hard and is going to keep improving,” said Farrell, an Orleans resident who serves as the girls team’s captain. “All the underclassmen on the team are great to work with. It’s been easy leading them.”
Nobili said Farrell’s demeanor makes her the perfect leader for this year’s young group.
“Katie is great because she’s really quiet but a lot of the girls are really quiet when they first come here,” the coach said. “So, for her to lead by example is awesome.”
One aspect the Nauset cross-country programs have enjoyed this fall is the ability to bond as a team. The boys and girls have been holding team dinner parties ahead of every meet, something Pranga said has been great for team morale.
“When we were freshmen, the seniors used to do team dinners for everybody,” Pranga said, adding that some of the favorite dishes have been pasta or pizza, depending on the host. “We’ve kind of taken that on and the seniors have been providing a house and providing the food – it’s great for bonding.”
Nobili said she’s been happy to see so many kids that didn’t have previous experience running long distances join the teams this fall.
“One of the girls, Molly Keigans, came right in at the beginning of the season and stepped right in,” Nobili said. “Luke McCarthy had never done cross-country before, he had never run and is doing really well. It’s amazing to see the kids that didn’t really practice at all but they’re showing up and doing it.”
The coach put the boys and girls’ commitment level to the test recently and said both passed with flying colors.
“We did a really hard workout the other day and everybody did it, which was great,” she said.
With so many seniors on this year’s team, Pranga said the boys are feeling excited about what they might be able to accomplish in the postseason.
“There’s more expectations and more hype this year, too, because we all know we can do it,” he said.
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com.