BILLERICA – The good news for the Shawsheen Tech Girls Cross Country team is that they are coming off another winning season, having gone 4-3 in last year’s COVID abbreviated campaign.
The better news for the Rams is that they bring back several of their top runners from that team, and they will be looking to make another run at a winning record, with even bigger goals in sight.
The Rams do lose one of their top runners from last season in captain Rachael Halas, along with solid contributors like Emily Pinto and Kelley DeLosh, but they bring back several runners who consistently put up points for them last season.
Leading the way among those returnees will be senior Devin Sweeney, who joined the team for the first time last season and almost immediately established herself as one of the Rams top runners. By the end of the season, she had also established herself as one of the top runners in the league.
But she is not alone at the top of the Rams lineup, as she will be joined by fellow senior Kaylee Gaffney of Tewksbury, along with senior Sandra Watne of Wilmington, as well as junior Hannah Lyle. Shawsheen coach Pat Kelly likes what he sees at the top of the lineup for the Rams.
“Devin is excited about the season, and we anticipate she will be among the top five runners in the league, and Kaylee trained all summer and has been running well as have Hannah and Sandra,” Kelly said. “So, we have four girls we know can perform well, and then beyond that, we are kind of young, so we are looking for the five through seven girls to kind of step up and develop.”
Among those that Kelly will be looking to step up as the season goes on will be senior Caleigh Shanahan of Tewksbury and sophomore Hannah Lam, along with a trio of freshmen, Anna Andacic, Autumn Halas, and Ayla Thissell.
“Some of the girls are really new to running, but we are happy with what we are seeing so far. But the reality is they are inexperienced,” Kelly said. “They are getting their experience right now. But we are pretty optimistic that they are going to do well and we are excited to see what they can accomplish.”
Gaffney and Sweeney will serve as the Rams co-captains, and Kelly feels like his team is in good hands with these two veteran runners leading the way.
“Kaylee is a four-year member of the team. As a freshman she was not really a standout member, and the same thing as a sophomore, but she always showed up and worked hard,” Kelly said. “But she trained hard last year and trained hard over the summer and came into camp just in great shape, so we are really encouraged for what she can do. She may not lead vocally, but she will definitely lead by example.
“Devin just started with us last year, but by the end of the year she was one of the best in the league,” Kelly continued. “And then she trained all summer and came into camp in great shape and could be even better this year. She is another one, who is also kind of quiet, but we know will lead by example.”
While the Rams have their sights set on a league title, Kelly knows it will not be easy, with a stacked CAC schedule in front of them. But that will still be their goal.
“Essex will be good again, and Lowell Catholic was good last year, so we would expect them to be good again. Greater Lowell is always a good team,” Kelly said. “We have a tall task if we want to be champions, but we will be giving it our best shot.”