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Lady Panthers will be built to support a solid nucleus


AYER — The Ayer girls track team is coming off a strong season in which they finished 10-0 in dual meets and earned a MidWach D championship. But with just one senior on the team this season, the Lady Panthers will look for a young contingent of athletes to complement a solid nucleus of six returnees.

A trio of junior captains will lead the Lady Panthers this season – Kim Farrington, Cassie Jones and Rayshelle Wright.

“Kim is the defending league champion in the long jump, triple jump, the 100 meter dash and the 300 intermediate hurdles,” said fifth-year Ayer coach Joe Scunziano. “She is a natural athlete with great speed and jumping ability. She is a leader and has stepped up as a captain. We are building the team around her.

“Cassie was the league champion in the 100 high hurdles and also competes in the javelin, triple jump and on the 4 X 100 relay team,” said Scunziano. “She is also a team leader who has good jumping ability, and her javelin throwing is much improved. Kim and Cassie are both in their fifth varsity seasons and provide plenty of experience.

“Rayshelle was second in the league in the high jump last year and she has shown a lot of overall improvement this season,” said Scunziano. She will also compete in the 100 high hurdles and 300 intermediate hurdles. Our captains provide us with a lot of experience, leadership and versatility.”

A trio of returnees who will contribute are sophomore Cathy Comerford, junior Cherise Mullen, and sophomore Leah Smith.

“Cathy is very athletic and will compete in the sprints and the long jump,” said Scunziano. “Cherise will be our leader in the throwing events, where she is much improved and her events will be the shot put, discus and the 4 X 100 relay. Leah runs the mile and 2-mile and is very self-motivated. She is very dedicated and has shown a lot of improvement.”

Promising newcomers on hand this season include freshmen Brynnan Farrington, Michelle Gardner and Sarah Megan.

“Brynnan is strong and will compete in the shot put and discus,” said Scunziano. “Michelle is also very strong and figures to compete in the shot put, discus and possibly the javelin. Sarah has looked very good and is competitive and is a middle distance runner (400 and 800 meters).

Twenty-nine girls came out for the team, including a strong freshmen class of 10. “I am trying to figure out the right events for our younger girls,” said Scunziano.

Renee Pierce is the only senior on the team this season. Other juniors looking to make a mark include Tiki Haynes and Rebecca Trinque. Sophomores looking for a niche are Mary Ahern and Kelsey Taylor. The talented freshmen class includes Casey Murphy, Katie Poitras, Emily Sama, Brittani Shorey, Deanna St. Peter and Andrea Zhou. Rounding out the roster are eighth graders Fortuna Fasulo, Caitlyn Ferrie, Rebecca Hugal, Marissa Monge, Josslen Morris and Jillian Spann, and seventh graders Hannah Levensailor and Kendyl Trinque.

“Our strengths this season are the experience and the leadership of our three captains, the work ethic of the entire team, and the talented freshmen group we have,” said Scunziano. “The concern is our youth and the ability of those youngsters to adapt to the varsity level.

“Our goal is to repeat as the league champion,” said Scunziano. “I think we’ll contend if the girls progress. We want to get better at each meet. We have upgraded our schedule this season, including Bishop Guertin, who are five time defending state champions in New Hampshire. We are excited and we are a young team with some talent.”