GROTON -- The Lady Crusaders cross country team was faced with a daunting task Tuesday afternoon when they took to the trails against Nashoba, the top-ranked cross country team in Central Massachusetts. The Cheiftains came into the meet ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll administered by The Telegram and Gazette. Nashoba came into Tuesday's meet with a first-place spot to hang on to; Groton-Dunstable aimed to challenge them and came up a few steps short. The Lady Crusaders fell to Nashoba by a score of GD: 44 /Nashoba 19.
Nashoba's Riley Gillen led the entire field of harriers with her unmatched time of 20:01.
The top finisher for the Lady Crusaders in Tuesday's meet with the defending Midland League B Champion Chieftains was two-year senior captain Emma Ordemann with a time of 21:47. Ordemann has consistently found herself at the front of the Groton-Dunstable herd for the past two seasons.
"Emma's work ethic is incredible and she keeps coming down on her times, even today in the race when the lead girl is so far in front of her," said head girls' cross country coach Colleen Naboicheck. "The next girl is so far behind her, despite being tired, she still was able to come back and run her best time this season."
Groton-Dunstable was without three of their top finishers and had to invest their faith in some younger runners.
The Lady Crusaders had a little bit of a streak of their own going into Tuesday's meet; they owned a 2-0 record on the Groton-Dunstable trails.
Groton-Dunstable brought several athletes to the Ocean State Invitational this past Saturday, where they finished ninth overall in a field that consisted of the top high school runners from across the North Atlantic region. The event was hosted in West Greenwich, R.I.
Groton-Dunstable has competed in three meets in five days, and the legs were a bit weary on Tuesday. Naboicheck felt that the short turnaround between meets may have factored into the team's performance Tuesday afternoon.
"They're tired. They ran beautifully at the Ocean State Invitational in Rhode Island. We had five girls under 23:00 down there." Naboicheck's harriers were subject to a tough schedule these past few days, but when tested, the true colors of athletes usually shine through. Breanne Happel took over the second-place spot for the Lady Crusaders Tuesday with a time of 23:29.
Katie Lienhart has consistently found herself second in the Crusaders lineup all season. Lienhart had an uncharacteristic day versus Nashoba, where she placed 15th overall with a time of 24:09.
"Lienhart was tired today. She usually finds herself about 20 seconds behind Emma (Ordemann)." Said Naboicheck.
Sophomore Briana Bozkurt was out of Tuesday's lineup with an injury and was unable to compete, but she has been a solid fourth place finisher for the Lady Crusaders this season.
Sophomore Alyssa Gerner is slowly moving up the ranks of the team as the season wages on, with her fifth place time of 23:49.
Freshman Emily McAuliffe cracked the varsity lineup today, and the future looks bright for the young runner, with her time of 23:50.
Senior Olivia Box took home the seventh and final varsity spot of the day with her time of 23:44.
Groton-Dunstable falls to 2-2 on the season, but Naboicheck believes the league is still wide open. The top three teams from the strong district field will punch their ticket to states. "Even though we got kind of hammered today, it's not representative of our team at all. We are in the mix to do well at districts and grab a spot at states."
Top 7 Groton-Dunstable girls' cross country performers
1.GD 21:47 Emma Ordemann
2.GD 23:29 Breanne Happell
3.GD 23:44 Olivia Box
4.GD 23:49 Alyssa Gerner
5.GD 23:50 Emily McAuliffe
6.GD 24:09 Katie Lienhard
7.GD 24:42 Sarah Meyers