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New Hingham MIddle School cross country a big hit

By William Wassersug (Wicked Local Hingham), 11/23/10, 5:39PM EST

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 Hingham — There’s no question about it – the Hingham High School cross country teams are already very good.

Good enough that Julie McConville placed 15th in the All-State championships in Gardner on Saturday.

Things could get even better soon.

This season, Hingham teacher Brett Johnson, a longtime track coach in Hanover and Scituate, started a middle school cross country team that could make an impact on the high school team as soon as next season.

“The idea came from (HHS boys cross country coach) Dave Jewett,” Johnson said. “He approached me and asked if I’d like to start a team. I work at the school and can practice there. The kids can take a late bus home, so I did it. I put flyers up and soon had 40 kids ready to run. Dave and Livvy (girls coach Livvy Kates) and Fred (track coach Fred Jewett) are happy to have one.”

Coaching cross country is a new experience.

“I’ve never done cross country before,” Johnson said. “I enjoyed it. This level is a nice change of pace from te high school when you practice every day. Here we can gear it for kids having fun and we can teach them from square one.”

The teaching part is fun for a veteran track coach.

“They’d be racing each other during warmup laps,” Johnson said about the first few practices. “They learned pretty quickly how to pace themselves. I taught them about pacing and how to conserve energy.”

In the first season, the team went to four meets, including the State Middle School Cross Country Championships in Tewksbury.

They also raced against teams from Randolph, a Hanover running club, Hanson and Silver Lake.

“There are more middle school teams than you’d expect,” Johnson said. “There were a lot of kids at the State Championships.”

One runner who may be in the news next year is Julia Noble.

“Julia is an eighth grader,” Johnson said. “You’ll be hearing a lot from her soon. I compared her stats from the Turkey Trot she just ran in Norwell with the EMass. Championships and her numbers were close to the top runners there. Two of the four meets she ran, she came in first. She’s very talented. She runs road races all the time. I know I have a good runner in her.”

Another solid runner is Alicia Barry.

“Alicia Barry has been at every single practice, every meet and when she’s done, she’s always second or third on the team,” Johnson said. “She’s also usually in the top 15 in meets.”

Emily McPhillips has shown the dedication it takes to succeed and Johnson has some sixth grade girls who look to be strong.

Those runners include Mia Delrosso, Casey Cavanaugh, Renee Noordzij and K.K. Patterson.

Kelly Morrisey had a good showing at the State Meet.

“Kelly is a very good runner,” Johnson said. “She finished ninth of all the seventh grade girls at the State Meet. The girls fared well as a team.”

On the boys side, Johnson said seventh grader Pat Greene is a good runner.

“Pat is usually our top finisher,” Johnson said. “He was third in two meets.”

Other runners who have shown great dedication are Sean Sullivan, Hugh Finnerty, Rafael Sogomonian, Tucker Rowley, Grant Juric, Matt Greene and Max Fickenwirth.

“Those kids went to any meet they could get to,” Johnson said. “They had a very successful first year. There are a few things we can tweak to make it even better next year, but this was a great season. We hope to get even more kids next year.”