The girls cross country team through hard work, dedication and talent. But, most of all - and perhaps most importantly -they won it because of their selflessness.
When Head Coach Ed Lucas asked the team’s top performers – all state stars Caylee Richardson, Marcea Stilson, Skyler Werner and Stephanie Vitka – whether they wanted to train for a chance at achieving the prestigious title of all-New England as individuals or train to help their team win a state championship, there was not a moment’s hesitation.
“We said we wanted to win this as a team, without question,” said Stilson, a junior who is already running well enough to compete at the collegiate level and who finished fifth at the Class SS state championship to earn all state honors for the third time in as many years; Richardson finished fourth. And, more importantly, Stilson, Richardson and company indeed helped lead her team to its first state Class SS title.
So when it came time to plan his first meeting as the town’s political leader, First Selectman George Temple knew exactly who he was going to honor at that meeting: the girls cross country team, of course.
“You go out and you make Oxford proud,” he told the girls Wednesday night at the Board of Selectmen meeting in which each girl and Lucas were presented with certificates of achievement from the board.
The team won the Class SS title on – Nov. 8. Leading up to the meet, Lucas knew that because the state and New England meets were back-to-back because of a shortened season due to storms, the girls would have to focus their training to peak at one meet or the other. He left it up to the girls, and was pleased with their team-first attitude.
Lucas, who also coaches the boys team, was also proud with the work ethic of the cross country athletes,.
“They are often training in the parking lot at the school, dodging cars,” he said, though just semi-jokingly. “It’s tough to train on, and we see a lot of sprained ankles and injuries that should be avoided. But the runners work extremely hard, and I’m proud of them.”
The girls sometime run 13 miles in a day - when they feel like giving up, they don't because they can't let down their teammates, who are also their friends, said senior Caylee Richardson.
Though there is an individual aspect to the sport, she said the girls have always wanted to win as a team.
“You cannot win by yourself so you need your team all the way,” she said.
Editor's Note: Please note we failed to mention that Caylee Richardson made all state and finished fourth in the Class SS state championship. We have mentioned it in previous article but not in this one. We have since updated this article. We regret the error.