RHAM girls’ cross country has nine seniors on the trails this fall. The nine are pictured at Senior Day at RHAM High School on Sept. 27.
RHAM girls' cross-country head coach Dan Martin has a robust senior class tackling the trails this fall.
Of Martin’s 22 runners, nine are seniors.
“Having nine seniors is a huge chunk of the foundation and the core of what we’ve been trying to do the last couple of years,” said Martin, who took over the program in 2014. “This is a strong senior class that is meshing well.”
Running on Senior Day, the seniors did not disappoint by running past both East Hartford (15-47) and South Windsor (26-29), securing victories in the Raptors only home meet of the season on Sept. 27.
Seniors Isabelle Mondo and Rachel Bartolucci both ran a time of 21:20 to finish atop the leaderboard.
Mondo and Bartolucci head a class that also features Nina Holm, Bridget Grabski, Natalia Huapaya, Paige O’Brien, Emma Rhodes, Maria Felicitas Villanueva, and Samara Zigmund.
“It is very clear that this year especially our team has created a very tight bond,” stated Mondo, who placed 5th overall at the Ocean State Invitational in Rhode Island three days prior to Senior Day. “Half of the seniors have been doing cross-country all four years, but we have all integrated together and now it truly feels like a family.”
Bartolucci was the team’s top finisher at Class MM finals a year ago and said that some of the seniors have been running together since middle school.
“We are all very supportive of each other. It’s been a great year; it’s a great team,” said Bartolucci. “We’re all on the same page and we have great chemistry.”
Holm, who placed 5th overall on Senior Day with a time of 23:21, said she got a little emotional after running the trails behind RHAM High School for the final time. She added that having a large senior class has enhanced the overall experience.
“Knowing we have so many people there to support you is very helpful,” said Holm. “We’ve grown so much closer throughout the years.”
On top of being five of the team’s top seven finishers at Senior Day, the seniors have also laid the groundwork for the next generation.
“The seniors are setting that example,” said Martin. “They are doing things after school and working hard in practice, and I think it’s trickling down to the younger girls. From a coaching perspective that is what you want to see.”
Martin said that the seniors have reinitiated pasta parties and other team outings, which were lost over the past couple of seasons because of the pandemic.
Mondo agreed that the gatherings, along with the meet in Rhode Island and the most recent road trip to Vermont for a meet, have made for an unforgettable senior season.
The future is also bright as sophomores Danielle Lynch, Juliet McShane, and Belle Kelly power a young group that are learning from the seniors.
On Senior Day, the younger runners gave speeches to the seniors to showcase their appreciation.
“Since it’s our senior year, we wanted it to be more special,” added Holm. “As a senior, we’re just trying to help other people enjoy running and for it to be a lifelong sport.”
Bartolucci added, “We’ve grown so close to each other. I don’t think I’ll ever be on a team like this again.”
The Raptors finished 7th at the Class MM finals a year ago and will look for another strong finish. The team is competing at a Class M level this fall after years of competing in MM.
On Saturday, the team will run at the Wickham Invitational as they prepare for the Class M championship (Oct. 29) and State Open (Nov. 4), which will also take place at Wickham Park in Manchester.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin