Middle School Cross Country Team Thrives in First Invitational Race


Middle school runners prepare before their race.

Danielle Levya

Middle school runners prepare before their race.

Boyden Fun Run Founder Fiona Murphy and Walpole Track and Field head coach Conor Cashman started Middle School Cross Country Program for athletes in Bird and Johnson Middle Schools to generate interest in running. Throughout the Fall, the group met roughly 2 times a week and trained together. On November 5, the top members competed in a 1.7 mile race at the 3rd Annual Massachusetts State Middle School Cross Country Invitational in Tewksbury, MA. While the members did not race together to score as a team, they all placed incredibly high in their grade-specific race, especially considering that this race was their first invitational.

Eighth grader Julia Averill competed as the only Walpole runner in the Eighth Grade Race and placed 34th out of 109 other runners with a time of 12:37.  Impressively, her time  was better than many of the JV high school times on the Walpole home course (which is only about a  0.08 of a mile difference).

In the Seventh Grade Race, Kyle Barry and Jack Bushway paced off of each other through the first mile.  Barry pushed ahead at that point and ultimately came in 44th out of 176 runners with a time of 11:51, which is better than the average JV high school boys time on the home course (which is 12:09). Coach Cashman spoke highly of Kyle’s potential: “Kyle Barry is similar to Justin Connolly (One of the boy’s Cross Country elite runners) because they have identical running form and despite being smaller than some of their peers, they are indefatigable.”

Despite both running into a race-pole halfway into the race and despite fighting through a cold (which turned out to be pneumonia), Bushway placed 83rd out of 176 runners and still finished with an impressive time of 12:27.  Seventh grader Delaney Murphy finished 54th out of 124 runners with a time of 13:06, also a solid time as a middle school runner.  In terms of high school runners, she ranks in the top twenty percent of the JV girls runners.

Next up, sixth graders Lindsay Sullivan and Danielle Borelli pack-ran together for the entire race. Borelli was one of the best runners during the summer program but had not run since the Walpole Road Race in September. For Sullivan, keeping up with Borelli for the entire race was a large improvement.  They finished with Borelli in 54th and Sullivan in 58th out of 193 runners.  Their times of 13:04 and 13:08 were arguably the most impressive of the day due to their age (They, like Murphy, also did extremely well in comparison to high school runners).

Although they raced as individuals, Coach Cashman and Coach Murphy were most impressed with the team’s “collective composure at a state level meet with over a hundred teams.”  And while the Middle School Cross Country Program is finished for the year, these athletes look forward to compete in the Middle School Spring Track program in April.