LENOX -- Setting high expectations is not unusual for the Lenox girls cross-country squad.
The Millionaires are coming off a successful 2012 season, winning the Berkshire County season and narrowly edging Mount Greylock 78-89 to take home the Western Mass. Division II championship in November.
The girls then had a respectable showing at the state meet in Northfield Recreation Center with a 15th place showing, second-best in the county. The Mounties earned the top Berkshire County finish in that meet.
Coach Jeanne Teasdale has been encouraged at recent practice sessions by the preparation her girls have made for this season.
"I’m very impressed," she said. "You can tell that the work that they’ve done with their summer running has paid off seeing their workouts."
The Millionaires return a strong corps of runners, including sophomores Elizabeth Jarck and Emily Tibbetts and freshmen Kate McNinch and Ella King.
Jarck, a frequent top-five finisher in county meets, was 14th in the county championship and was the Millionaires’ top finisher in Western Mass., finishing ninth in 21:31.36.
Tibbetts was a top-10 finisher in a number of county meets in 2012, including a fourth-place finish at the county championship at Berkshire Community College. Tibbetts followed that up with a top-20 showing at the Western Mass. meet.
As an eighth grader, King burst onto the scene with an outstanding season, including a second place finish (to McNinch) in the Brown Invitational junior varsity race in Warwick, R.I.
Jarck has set high expectations for herself and for the team this year.
"I’m looking to [make] All-Berkshire and [improve] my times, but as a team, we’re hoping to win Western Mass. again," she said.
Tibbetts and King also said that important personal goals this season are to set personal records at each course and to improve on their times at Western Mass.
To prepare for the grueling season, many of the girls spent a great deal of the summer running, cross-training, attending running camps, and participating in races.
Many of the Millionaires use their skills honed during the fall season in other sports throughout the year. Tibbetts participates in Nordic skiing in the winter and track in the spring, while Jarck and King are on the Millionaires’ tennis team.
Though her top runners are returning for another season, Teasdale said that several younger runners may challenge for varsity spots, including seventh grader Maggie Sorrentino and eighth grader Alice Najimy, who was the Millionaires’ top finisher at the Greylock Invitational preseason scrimmage, finishing in 12th place.
With increased competition and a new team in Berkshire County, there is a greater motivation for the Millionaires to elevate their performance to the next step.
"It’s going to be tough," Teasdale said. "We know that Pittsfield and Mount Greylock have always had strong teams, but with Monument Mountain and Wahconah strong ... that will only push us and make us stronger."