For the first time since 1989 and only the second time in program history, the Loomis Chaffee girls cross country team won the Division I New England Prep School Track Association championship on Saturday, November 12, at St. Paul's School in New Hampshire.
With gutsy racing by the whole squad and with all five scoring runners placing in the top 18, Loomis outran defending champion Exeter and 12 other schools to win the title and complete an undefeated season.
The Pelicans scored 50 points to earn the first-place plaque. Exeter, whose runners fought hard and raced with strategic savvy, was second with 71 points. Taft's talented squad rounded out the top three teams with 113 points.
"I'm so proud of our girls," Loomis head coach Becky Purdy said after the meet. "They worked hard and stayed focused all season with the aim of trying to win the New Englands, and their competitive tenacity and commitment to each other as teammates brought out their best when it mattered most."
Sophomore Natalie Crocker placed second overall with a time of 19:07 on the St. Paul's course, which featured a long wooded section with plenty of turns and quick elevation changes. Crocker finished 29 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher, Exeter's top runner.
Sophomore Lexi Barry set a punishing pace from the start and still surged in the last mile to move into fifth place and cross the finish line in 19:59.
The next three Loomis racers strove to put as much distance as they could between themselves and their competitors' packs, and they delivered. Running No. 3 and No. 4 for Loomis, junior Sofia Rincon (11th overall, 20:48) and senior captain Maeve Dowd (14th, 21:01) both finished well ahead of the No. 3 runners from every other school. And junior Logan Elie (18th, 21:26) completed the scoring for the Pelicans and clinched the team win by finishing ahead of Exeter's fourth runner.
Crocker, Barry, Rincon, Dowd, and Elie earned All-New England honors by finishing in the top 20.
Also competing well in the varsity race, sophomore rookie Delaney Pece and the team's most improved varsity runner, junior Madison Bromberg, contributed to the team as displacing runners.
The JV squad ran spectacularly as well to place second as a team in the JV race. The five scoring Pelicans all crossed the finish line in a span of 44 seconds to garner an impressively low score of 36, behind Exeter with 22 points and ahead of 11 other JV teams.