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Gallant Effort By Holliston Girls At State Track Meet Defending Champs Finish Third

The Holliston High girls track that finished third at the Division 4 State Championship meet last month.Photo courtesy of Henry Studio

Coach Jenn Moreau’s forces finished third, behind North Reading, the meet champ with 69 points. Whitinsville-Christian was second with 55 points and the Panthers were third with 46.
“We’re not disappointed because there’s a lot to celebrate,’’ Moreau said. “Trying to win two straight State championships is difficult because of the expectations and the pressure. We had a young team and a core nucleus of only 12 girls. But, they competed hard, gave 100 percent and showed how dedicated they are.’’
Their dedication was front and center in three events — the mile and the 4x400 and 4x800 relays. Holliston collected 19 points in the mile event and 16 points in the two relays.
Carmen Luisi was first in the mile, Maggie Kuchman was second and Paige Kuchman finished eighth. The 4x400 squad featured Ella Bosselman, Kaitlyn Quealy, Annabelle Lynch, and Luisi, and the 4x800 contingent included Bosselman, Casey Wig, Lynch, and Maggie Kuchman.
“Those teams gave us a strong effort and kept us in the meet,’’ Moreau said.
Last year, the Panthers, who finished their dual-meet season unbeaten at 5-0, made it a clean sweep, winning the Tri Valley League Large Division crown, then rolling to the State title. Holliston compiled 66 points, Wilmington was a distant second with 50 points and Medfield was third with 45.
“That was the school’s first state championship in girls track,’’ Moreau said. “It was a thrill but a total team effort made it special. Our senior leadership was excellent. The veteran competitors knew we could do well and they provided the spark. We had a talented group that was athletic, technically sound, experienced, and had a high track IQ.’’
Captains Ava Bergloff (shot put), Peyton Hastings (distance events), Mia Luisi (sprinter/long jump), and Jessica Smith (sprinter) provided most of the senior leadership. Although they fell short of a second straight title, the 2023 edition of the Panthers, nevertheless, was a squad that had strengths. “We had depth, experience, athleticism and a high track IQ” Moreau said. “The team also had a lot of heart, the girls were coachable, they worked hard to promote team chemistry.
Holliston’s senior captains — Kleah Cenolli, Inga Jung, Wig and Maeve Garvey — personified leadership. “They led by example, by being vocal and communicative and they were supportive,’’ she said. “They’re team-first competitors.’’
“Kleah’s event was the shot put,’’ Moreau noted. “A quiet leader, she was extremely helpful and supportive of our younger kids. An experienced and dependable competitor, her work ethic was outstanding. Inga competed in the 55-meter sprint, the 4x200 relay, the high jump and long jump. Her speed and technique were dynamic. She’ll be competing at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut next year.
“Casey ran middle distance races. A determined runner, she was a role model on and off the track. Her work ethic was exceptional. Maeve also ran middle distance races. She was consistent, determined and very coachable.’’
Sophomores Maggie Kuchman and Lynch competed in distance events and the underclassmen were impressive. “They relied on endurance and speed,’’ Moreau said. “Intense competitors, they were very coachable and showed lots of heart.’’
Quealy, another sophomore, was versatile, competing in the sprints and the high jump. Her 5-foot-2 high jump was a personal best. “Kaitlyn’s technique is very good, she’s determined and has a lot of natural talent,’’ Moreau said.
Bosselman, a senior, and Luisi, a junior, ran the mile and two-mile events. Luisi was last year’s top scorer and Bosselman will be competing for UMass-Amherst next year.
“Ella was a member of last year’s cross-country team that won a State title,’’ Moreau emphasized. “A great competitor, she’s got a fantastic will to succeed. Her endurance and form are very good. Carmen’s work ethic is terrific, her endurance is top-notch and her determination is a great asset.’’ 
During the season, Holliston finished with a 3-2 TVL record and a third-place finish in the league meet. “We were dealing with illness and injuries early in the season,’’ Moreau said. “But, what’s so rewarding working with this group was the trust we built and the rapport we had. My two assistants also played key roles. Dave Bergloff is our throwing coach and Mark Reytblat coaches the jumpers and the sprinters.’’
When Moreau stressed the goals she had set for the squad during pre-season practice, there was no mention of TVL titles or a State championship repeat. She made sure not to place any undue pressure on her forces.
A motivating coach, Moreau says her competitive philosophy stresses reaching one’s potential, striving to be your best, and having fun along the way. “If those things occur, then winning will follow,’’ she said. “And, valuable life lessons can be learned in sports. Some of them are overcoming adversity, being resilient, learning how to lead and to be good teammates.’’ 
The 42-year-old Moreau, who’s been the Holliston girls track coach for 12 years, was a dynamic high school athlete at Mount Ararat High in Topsham, Maine. She played soccer and ran indoor and outdoor track. Voted the Gatorade Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year in Maine, she earned a full scholarship to Syracuse University where she ran winter and spring track. Married and the mother of two children, she’s been on Holliston’s faculty for 12 years, teaching health and wellness. 
“It’s not like we’re dejected after finishing third at the State meet,’’ Moreau said. “We can look at it as great preparation for the outdoor season.’’
Moreau is the spring track coach and she’ll again be coaching most of the girls who competed indoors. Last year, after winning the indoor State crown, her outdoor team lost at the State meet to Wilmington by a score of 70.2 to 70.0. “That was a time to be disappointed and dejected,’’ she said.
Holliston’s 2023 indoor track team should be remembered for its resilience, especially the way it battled through injury and illness. “We relied on each other and dealt with the highs and the lows. The team had character and it always gave 100 percent,’’ Moreau said.By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
It’s often been said that a sports team’s greatest challenge isn’t winning a championship — it’s defending a title that’s far more difficult. A target on a defending champion’s back so often makes winning two straight crowns a Herculean task.
That’s what the Holliston High girls indoor track team faced last month when it  competed at the Reggie Lewis Center, attempting to win its second consecutive Division 4 State crown.