Cross Country: Hampshire Regional’s Sylvie Mahon-Moore a tough act to follow

  • Hampshire Regional senior Sylvie Mahon-Moore leads the Raiders cross country team both through her words and actions. She's undefeated this year and eyeing strong results later in the season, as well. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hampshire Regional senior Sylvie Mahon-Moore leads the Raiders cross country team both through her words and actions. She's undefeated this year and eyeing strong results later in the season, as well. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hampshire Regional senior Sylvie Mahon-Moore leads the Raiders cross country team both through her words and actions. She's undefeated this year and eyeing strong results later in the season, as well. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/4/2021 4:50:19 PM

WESTHAMPTON — Sylvie Mahon-Moore typically lingers around the finish line after crossing it — usually first. The Hampshire Regional senior encourages teammates and competitors alike to finish strong. She asks her fellow Raiders about their own races and celebrates their successes and improvements.

“She’s really a good role model for everyone. She pushes me,” Hampshire junior Ellia Masenior said. “I strive to be as fast as her someday, and I just love running with her so much and she’s like the kindest person.”

Maybe too kind for her own good, at least during races. Mahon-Moore struggled previously being at the front of races or thinking she belonged there. She was willing to let others set the pace and follow.

This year, Mahon-Moore set a goal to be more aggressive. It’s a mindset change that requires a push. She’s taken to listening to “pump up” music like the Cars before races.

“I like old rock songs so that makes me happy, and finding something to like kind of get angry at really helps,” Mahon-Moore said.

The results have spoken for themselves early in the season. She’s finished first in all four races this year. Her goal was to break 20 minutes, which Mahon-Moore struggled with this season until finally breaking through it last week against McCann Tech and St. Mary’s. She crushed the mark, winning in 19 minutes, 20 seconds, two minutes clear of the field. That mark was eighth all-time for a Hampshire runner on the course, displacing her coach Susannah Tracy to No. 9. It’s the 30th fastest girls time in course history dating back to 1971.

“Sylvie has just really grown in confidence, which has been huge,” Tracy said. “She’s definitely at that point where she’s like, alright, I don’t need to follow somebody else I can go do my race, which has been great to see.”

Mahon-Moore placed 10th in the Division 2 Western Massachusetts championship as a sophomore. After not competing in any large races or postseason events last year, she’s aiming high for her senior season.

“They’re nerve wracking, but this year I’m pretty excited for them,” Mahon-Moore said. “I’m really psyched to be racing some people and see where I go for my last year.”

Wherever she ends up, her impact at Hampshire will be felt for years off the course. She’s taken care to learn all of the new runners names and incorporated them into the program.

“I just think it’s an important part of cross country and being, you know, just like a family, I guess, as cringey as it sounds,” Mahon-Moore said. “We want to keep the legacy of cross country going where you’re friendly to people and it’s a nice thing to be a part of.”

It raises the level of the program when the No. 1 runner out front is also an easy person to follow.

“If the person you’re looking up to is super friendly and outgoing and happy all the time, you’re going to have fun with them,” Tracy said.

Masenior called Mahon-Moore her closest friend on the team. She hopes to carry on the culture and legacy Mahon-Moore helped craft for the Raiders next season.

“She’s just so encouraging and she’s so selfless and kind and she roots for everyone,” Masenior said. “She’s just really the best team leader we could have.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.


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