2023 SALEM NEWS GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE YEAR
It seems almost blasphemous to be mentioned in the same breath as Shalane Flanagan, one of the greatest distance runners in United States history and an Olympic medalist who first made her bones at Marblehead High. But Marri O’Connell, a sophomore at Flanagan’s alma mater, is doing just that by dominating for the Magicians at every opportunity.
Undefeated in Northeastern Conference competition this fall, O’Connell lapped some of her competitors while easily winning the NEC Championship at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. Her winning time of 18:25 was 88 seconds better than the second place competitor. It only made sense that O’Connell took home Runner of the Year honors in the conference.
But she was far from finished. At the Division 2A state qualifier, she again whipped the competition by crossing the finish line first in 18:11.0 — more than 41 seconds better than the runner-up — and guided Marblehead to a fourth place team showing. At the following weekend’s Division 2 state championships, O’Connell took second place at Fort Devens in 18:43.89.
She followed that up by finishing 18th overall at the Foot Locker Northeast Championship, claiming the third-best time (18:36) for both a Massachusetts runner and for an underclassman. A month beforehand, O’Connell scored a 40-second personal best by finishing third in the Bob Glennon Twilight Meet Medium School Varsity Race in 17:48.0, battling two of the Bay State’s top runners in what came down to a photo finish separated by 0.1 seconds.
O’Connell is as talented in the classroom as she is on the trails, carrying a 4.119 grade point average. She wants to continue improving during her time at Marblehead High and hopes to one day run in college. Parker Valby, the top runner for the University of Florida women’s cross country team, has been a major inspiration for O’Connell.
Peabody 8th grader
Came in second place overall at the Northeastern Conference championship meet with a time of 19:53, besting many much older runners in the process … Finished 30th at the Division 1B state meet in 20:36, helping the Tanners qualify for All-States as a team … Helped lead her team to an unbeaten regular season and the third lowest team point total in NEC meet history … Came in third in the freshman 3K at Frank Kelley Invite … Looks up to her coaches, Fernando Braz and Pete Cirafice as well as Olympia Heather MacLean.
Turned in a top-ten finish at the Eastern Independent League championship at Great Brook Farm, coming in eighth in 21:15 … Helped Pingree finish third as a team at EIL’s and a strong seventh at the New England Prep School Track Association’s Division 3 championship … In that race at Wheeler School, was Pingree’s top finisher in 21:46 for 21st place overall … Came in fourth overall in tri-meet at Concord … Also excels in spring track for the Highlanders, earning the ‘Standout Award.’
Joined the cross country team for the first time this fall and was Peabody’s top runner in every meet of the regular season … Racked up points as Tanners went undefeated in the dual meet season … Came in sixth at the Northeastern Conference championship meet (21:07) to earn All-Conference honors … Ran 20:29 at the Division 1B state meet to help her squad qualify for All-States … In addition to setting a new record on the current home course at PHS, placed 11th in the Frank Mooney Senior Invite (20:04).
The Tanners’ most experience runner coming into the season excelled in helping her team run the table in dual meets and then post the third lowest team total ever at the Northeastern Conference championship … Came in fifth at Stage Fort (20:11) to earn All-Conference honors … Placed third at the Frank Mooney Junior Invite (20:12) … Ran a solid 20:51 for 35th at the Division 1B state meet to help Tanner qualify for All-States … Clocked 20:56 at All-States … Also a captain for the school’s co-op girls hockey squad along with twin sister Ava.
Highlander captain and repeat Salem News all-star turned in another All-Eastern Independent League season by finishing in third at the league championship meet at Great Brook Farm (20:30) … Broke her previous PR by 21 seconds … At the New England Prep School Track Association Division 3 race at Wheeler, ran 21:53 and helped Pingree finish seventh as a team … Newburyport native also came in first against Concord Academy, LCA and Beaver Country Day … All-New England selection as a junior hopes to run in college and study on a pre-med track.
Bishop Fenwick Sophomore
Had a trio of third place finishes this fall, including at the Franklin Park Invitational, the Frank Mooney Inivitational, and the Bob Glennon Twilight Invitational, earning a PB by almost 50 seconds in the latter … Had best 5K time of 19:40 and a top time over 3K in 11:59 … Claimed fourth place at the Catholic Central League Meet, thus earning herself CCL all-star accolades … The 95-pound speedster was also sixth at the Frank Mooney Invitational … Took 13th in Footlocker Freshman/Sophomore Northeast Meet … Terrific student (4.74 GPA) plans to run in college.
Peabody 8th grader
Bronze medalist at the Northeastern Conference championship meet at Stage Fort Park, excelling racing against much older competitors … NEC All-Conference choice … Came on fourth overall in the freshman 3K at the Frank Kelley Invitational (12:28) … Favorite performance came at the Frank Mooney Invite in Wrentham … Helped Tanners go unbeaten in regular season and also win the NEC league meet … Clocked 21:05 at D1B state meet as Peabody qualified for the All-State meet.
Northeastern Conference all-star was the Big Blue’s top runner throughout the season … Clocked 20:56 for 12th place at the NEC championship meet at Stage Fort Park … Ran 22:14 at the Division 3A state meet to finish 18th and quality for All-States … In the D3 race at for Devens, ran 22:00 for 67th overall in a huge pack … Clocked 21:41 at the CM Invitational … Swampscott’s team MVP is captain elect for next season and is grateful to her coaches and teammates for helping her enjoy running.
Repeat Salem News all-star finished 13th (21:00) at the Northeastern Conference meet to earn league all-star status … Top time of the season came at the Twilight Meet (20:48), which she highlights as a fun experience and memory … Clocked a Masco all-time best 12:33 in the 3K at the Frank Kelley Invitational and medaled … Shaved 30 seconds off her best home course time from September to November with a best of 21:13 … Captained Chieftains to 6-1 record … Ran 21:48 at D2A state championship … Ranks 10th in Masco’s Class of 2024 and is grateful for her dad’s support.
Bishop Fenwick Sophomore
Catholic Central League all-star for the second straight season was part of Fenwick’s dynamic 10th grade duo along with fellow all-star Julia Davis … Finished in fourth place in the Bob Glennon Twilight Invitational 5K (19:41) in the Sophomore small schools category … Best 3K time was 12:05 … Took fourth place at Frank Mooney Invitational … Twice named team’s Co-Outstanding Performer … Fifth place at both CCL Meet and Franklin Park Invitational … Fenwick’s Student-Athlete of the Month for November … Earned silver medal by taking 15th at Footlocker Cross Country Northeast Freshman/Sophomore Girls Race … Weighed GPA of 4.62.
Burst onto the scene with some phenomenal times … Raced to a 12th place finish at Division 3 state championship at 19:57.09, achieving a personal best in the process … Took second place at the Ocean State Invitational 4K in 16:22 … Was third place at the Frank Kelly Invitational in the Freshman/Sophomore Meet in 11:38 over 3K … Took fifth place at Cape Ann League championships in 20:09 over 5K … Second place showing at the Division 3B championship at Northfield Mountain (20:17) … Cape Ann League all-star gets Highest Honors in classroom.
Panther captain finished fourth overall at the Northeastern Conference Meet with a 20:07 over the 5K distance, her best such time of the season … Earned All-NEC accolades … Came in 12th place at the Frank Mooney Coaches Invite (20:55) … Took 14th place at the 3K Frank Kelley Invite (12:17) … Beverly’s team MVP … Excellent student with a 4.65 grade point average … Wants to study mathematics at a 4-year college … Said sister encouraged her to run and reach her true potential.
Generals’ captain from South Hamilton led both with her words and her feet in turning in some top performances this fall … Team MVP finished third overall at Division 3B in 20:27.61 at Northfield Mountain, one of a trio H-W runners to place in the top three … Placed seven at Cape Ann League championships (20:44.40) … Came in 13th overall at All-State championship (20:03.21) … CAL Baker Division Runner of the Year … Wants to run in college and study pre-med or chemistry … Owns a 3.9 GPA.
Magicians’ captain took home team’s Leadership Award for her excellence both on and off the course … Northeastern Conference all-star … Finished Frank Kelley Invitational 3K in 12:08 … Ran a 20:00.02 at Bob Glennon Twilight Invitational over 5K distance, her best time of the season … Finished in 21:29 at Division 2 state qualifier, good for 25th overall … Crossed the finish line in 22:01.33 at the Division 2 state championship … Awaiting to hear from colleges and plans to pursue a pre-veterinary major … Weighted GPA of 4.507.
Panther captain crossed the finish line in 10th place at the Northeastern Conference championships in 20:34 at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester … Earned 12th place time at Frank Kelley Invitational 3K in 12:12 … Ran a 21:01 in the Coaches Invitational 5K … Northeastern Conference all-star … Wants to study healthy science or environmental science at a four-year college … Excellent student sports a 4.62 grade point average.
South Hamilton ninth grade speedster reached her personal best by almost a full minute at the Cape Ann League Meet, finishing third overall in 19:29 after leading for the first mile-and-a-half … Took eighth place at the Division 3 All-State meet in a very impressive 19:30.23, earning all-star accolades … Won the Division 3B championship in a first place time of 20:10.18 … Cape Ann League all-star … Would love to run in college … Sports a 3.8 grade point average.
Began her cross country career for the Falcons in style with several highlights … Chosen as team MVP … Claimed fifth place at the Ocean State Invitational, running 2.5 miles in 17:58 … Took seventh place overall at the Northeastern Conference Meet in Gloucester with a 20:17 finish … Time of 20:46 earned her a 24th place finisher at the Divisional Meet in Wrentham and a berth at All-States at Fort Devens, where she ran a 21:31 … High honors student wants to eventually run in college … One of her biggest influences is former Marblehead High superstar and Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan.
Captain for the Witches helped get the word out about the sport in her school and build up the Salem High program … Northeastern Conference all-star came in 11th place at the league meet at Stage Fort Park (20:48) … At the DD3A state meet, came in 31st in 23:07 … Won the dual meet race against rival Beverly … Also had strong showing (7th) in tri-meet with league champion Peabody … Honor roll student ranks 26h in Salem High’s Class of 2025 … Grateful to her dad for all his support and encouragement
Beverly: Chloe Bossler, Soph.; Anna Michaud, Jr.; Vanessa Wiederhold, Sr.
Bishop Fenwick: Adelaide Sweatman, Fr.; Olivia Rowe, Fr. – Sam Appleyard, Soph.
Danvers: Grace Conklin, Fr.; Arianna McNulty, Sr.
Essex Tech: Sophia Visconti, Sr.
Hamilton-Wenham: Mira Fleming, Jr.; Sophia Happel, Jr.
Ipswich: Alana Novello, Fr.; Kameya Perron, Soph.
Marblehead: Maren Potter, Jr.; Jesslyn Roemer, Fr.
Masconomet: Ella Alberta, Jr.; Alice Beringer, Jr.; Teagan Kane, Jr.; Mara Siewko, Fr.
Peabody: Ava Buckley, Jr; Marley Lambert, 8th; Sofia Schirripa, Jr.
Pingree: Emily Haas, Jr.; Camryn Rafuse, Jr.; Kasey Schena, Sr.
Salem: Emma Bouldry, Sr.; Alyssa LeBrun, So.; Jessica Valatka, Sr.
Swampscott: Aileen Cornwall-Brady, Sr.; Anastacia Corcoran, Sr.; Collette Heil, Jr.
2023 SALEM NEWS GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER OF THE YEAR