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2022 Woodstock Academy girls cross-country preview

The Woodstock Academy girls cross-country team had to accept one fact of life this fall.

“The Linsey Arends era is over,” Centaurs coach Joe Banas said.

Arends won the Eastern Connecticut Conference individual title last year, was seventh in Class MM and 40th in the State Open championship.

She will be running for the University of Rhode Island this fall.

But the cupboard is not bare in Woodstock.

The Centaurs, who finished with a 10-2 overall record and second in the Class MM state championship, may not be able to replace the ECC individual champion, but they do have a strong 1-2 punch returning.

Senior Lauren Brule and junior Julia Coyle are both back.

Brule was 10th and Coyle 14th in the ECC championship a year ago.

“The remaining four girls will have to pack it in (behind the frontrunners) and it’s going to be a difficult year, because the group is so small, just to keep everyone healthy and injury-free,” Banas said.

The Centaurs only have 10 runners out for the program.

“Our numbers went way down which is a concern but we’re working with what we have,” said senior co-captain Sydney Lord. “It’s kind of unfortunate. It’s the lowest I have seen it. When I was a freshman, we had 10 freshmen girls. It’s strange to see that number go down to one.”

Strange but not unheard of as the sport tends to be a cyclical one.

And the sport is not for everyone.

“I still don’t understand what has happened,” Banas said. “I always call cross-country the Marines of high school sports. We don’t have a halftime; we don’t have offense and defense and I can’t call a time out halfway through a race.”

Lord, who finished 15th in the ECC a year ago, will be a key for the Centaurs along with classmate Tessa Brown, sophomore Kira Greene and freshman Olivia Tracy who won the Quinebaug Valley Junior Conference junior high championship last fall.

“It will be tough to repeat what we did last year but with the team we have, I think we will get there,” Coyle, the other co-captain, said. “We have big shoes to fill but we still definitely have a lot.”

Banas does have a goal he would like to accomplish.

He wants to keep a streak alive as the team has not finished worse than third in the ECC championship meet in the five years he has coached the Centaurs.