Orange Live Sports Writer
When Sean Mahon took over the controls of the Amity girls cross country team 3 years ago, talent was thin and he struggled through a difficult rookie season. Since then, he has rapidly rebuilt the Lady Spartan harriers into being a major force in both the Southern Connecticut Conference and state power structure. Last year Amity was a second place 3-1 against Housatonic Division opponents (the 1 loss was to Cheshire , the eventual Housy champs), a fourth place 9-1 in the SCC and 11th in Class LL.
As he looks ahead to Tuesday’s season-opening West Beach Invitational at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, Mahon returns 5 of his top 7 2011 runners. In addition to Lee Ann Beedle and Rebecca Race, Maggie Jodon, Cynthia Greenberg, and Allie Cocco all departed in June.
“Yes, we did graduate some good runners and have a young team with only 2 seniors (Co-Captains Minnie Chen and Allison Tarente) on the roster. That’s different from the types of teams we’ve had in the past,” Mahon said. “As a team, we are inexperienced, but the young girls on our current roster ran a lot during the summer to prepare for the season. We have some potentially talented girls but all they need racing experience.”
Lisa Gorham is only a sophomore but is the team’s strongest runner and will hold down the No. 1 slot.
According to Mahon , “Lisa is young but gained a lot of experience and confidence running as a freshman last year.”
Alana Morton is a junior but makes her cross country debut this fall. She does come with a lot of outdoor track experience. She also racked up a lot of training miles during the summer and is running No. 2. In a recent intra-squad scrimmage, she came in first.
Chen is the team’s most experienced runner and the team’s No. 3 runner. Mahon also labeled her “a great leader.”
He proudly noted that sophomore Sarah Stein has “worked very hard and come a long way since last year.” She is currently in the No. 4 slot.
Junior Marina Tomei, sophomore Grace Laydon, along with freshmen Clara Gamsu and Melissa Taggart round out the Lady Spartans’ varsity roster.
As usual, the Housy looks to be a battle between Amity and Cheshire . In addition, Mahon sees Shelton as a young team that has some good runners and very comparable to his team. Guilford is the defending SCC champs. Mahon feels that the Indians should vie will Hillhouse (No. 2 last fall), Cheshire (No. 3 in 2011), Mercy, Hand, and his Lady Spartans for the 2012 conference crown.
He added, “If we can stay away from injuries, put in the mileage, train smart, and not try to do too much too soon, we could do as well as we did last year. Our young kids seem very motivated, easy going, and are having a good time. I think we have a good mix of girls, but, they still have to get used to running cross country as a varsity sport. If we accomplish that; put aside our noviceness, and gain the experience we currently lack, by the end of the regular season, we could be in the chase during the championship portion of our season.