Mary Yount leads strong opening sweep for Northampton girls cross country team

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  • Northampton, South Hadley and Sabis runners begin their race during a cross-country meet in Northampton, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mary Yount, of Northampton, runs toward a first place during a cross-country meet against South Hadley and Sabis, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/10/2019 10:15:12 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton girls cross country team dominated in its season-opening tri-meet against South Hadley and Sabis on Tuesday.

The Blue Devils defeated South Hadley, 15-50, and Sabis, 15-50, at Community Gardens.

Blue Devils senior Mary Yount was the top overall finisher with a time of 20 minutes, 23 seconds on the 3.1-mile course. Nineteen of the race’s top-20 were Northampton runners.

“The work ethic is there. It’s amazing,” Northampton coach Leslie Charles said. “The most important thing for us is to be positive and have the girls run happy. That will make them stronger runners. The outcome is the result of the work we put in. Our goal is to focus on the moments, then whatever happens, happens. Of course we are competitive and are looking to do well, but we are focusing on the day to day.”

Nava Chevan (22:05), Naomi Andrews (22:09), Maggie Reade (22:13) and Lila Lofving (22:17) finished second through fifth, respectively, for Northampton.

Being able to “run happy” and keep a high energy level is no easy task in cross country. The team has been able to keep a positive mindset by making it a point to encourage each other individually and to run together after races.

“We support them and they support each other,” Charles said. “Happiness is contagious, that is how we do it. We have great workouts. Everyone does it. It’s impressive ... This is an exciting program.”

Yount has been one of the program’s best runners for the last few years. Coming into this season, she has made it a point to try and avoid burnout by mixing up her training schedule and giving herself more off days in the summer.

“I have been doing lower mileage and just trying to listen to my body,” Yount said. “Lowering the mileage, drinking more water and stretching more. Arm strength is a big thing for me, too.”

Although Yount has consistently been among the best runners in western Massachusetts the last few years, competition at the top has been fierce.

Amherst Regional’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley won a fourth-straight sectional title last season with Yount placing second.

She is partially motivated to be seen as the top runner in the area this fall, but her main motivation is internal rather than external.

“Ultimately my goal since last year is to just get low 18s,” said Yount, referring to her time in a 5K. “Definitely get a big (personal record), because I didn’t have a big (personal record) between sophomore and junior year. That is really what I want.”

Although Yount finished first by over two minutes on Tuesday, she feels like she could have performed better.

“(My performance today) was not up to my expectations,” Yount said. “I was expecting to break 20 … but I’m happy I pushed myself even though I was alone. It was a solid time.”

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