Freshman Runner Makes Her Mark On the Cross Country Team

Walpole+runners+lead+the+pack.

Walpole runners lead the pack.

Anna Van der Linden

Walpole runners lead the pack.
Walpole runners lead the pack.

Let’s face it, being a freshman can be a challenge. Despite all the excitement of starting high school, it’s hard to figure out where you fit in the school. Many ninth graders decide to join a sports team in order to make new friends and someday fulfill the dream of becoming a varsity athlete and a strong contributor to the team.

For freshman Stephanie Forester, a varsity cross country runner, this dream quickly became reality, thanks to her talent and hard work.

Forester started running in Newburyport in an annual Thanksgiving race,  and then began running on her own during the summer. “Then last year I knew I wanted to join the cross country team after the middle school track and cross country club,” she said. She went to captains’ practices to work out with the team and started her season as a strong junior varsity runner, winning or placing in most meets, already an admirable accomplishment for a freshman.

But Steph did not stop there.

Because she was consistently getting top places in the JV races, Coach Jamie Farrell made the decision to move her up to varsity. In her very first varsity race, Forester did an amazing job by staying with the second pack of runners that included junior Emma Campbell and sophomore Molly Rockwood. Yet she continued to prove herself in her next race, when she broke away from the pack to run by herself- a very difficult thing to do- and become the fifth strongest Walpole runner, behind junior Allie Morris, sophomore Alyssa Murphy, and seniors Jackie Applin and Kristen Coyne.

She also makes a positive impression on the team, according to her captains Mackenzie Wilson and Coyne.

“Steph is a shining example of someone who starts out as an average JV runner and works her way up to excellence,” said senior Captain Kristen Coyne, “She’s definitely helped us all step up and fill some gaps we had in the varsity team, a crucial turning point in our season.” Said Wilson, “Her success proves to those around her how much hard work can pay off.”

Forester recently won first place in the freshman 2,500 meter race at the Bay State League Meet, a very competitive invitational.

“I just keep in mind that it’s just another race and it’ll be over before I know it,” she said, “I also want to try to push myself to improve at each race, try to keep up with the faster varsity girls on the team and have a good strong end to the season.”

Girls’ cross country has recently reclaimed their Herget title, but they are looking to continue their success at a statewide level.

“My goal for the team is to work our hardest to make it to All States. I know that we can make it, we’re so close,” said Forester. Although they did not make it last weekend, Forester’s teammate Allie Morris individually qualified — the first female Rebel to qualify since 2010.

Though most freshman struggle to find their place in the school or on a new team, Steph Forester has crushed her first cross country season and has more than earned her position with the varsity runners.