Let’s Get it Running: Girls Cross Country Season Highlights


Girl's Cross country

A large portion of the team hit personal record times, either on the course or overall: Gambescia, Mosier, Foster, Becker, Spalter, and Kumar.

After two months of summer training, the Eastern Girls Cross Country Team was ready to run their first race of the season. On September 10th 2022, Cherokee High School hosted its annual two mile XC race known as Cherokee Challenge

 Surrounded by teams who journeyed from all around South Jersey, sophomores Addison Foster and Brianna Panchal took their places on the starting line with a feeling of anticipation. The race went off signaling the start of a great season for Eastern. 

 Following the sophomore race, juniors Kayla Spalter, Caroline Becker, Regan Bewley, and Dasha Anderson thrived during their race as they tackled countless hills and made their way to the finish line with fierce determination. With their teammates and coaches cheering them on, they managed to run great times. 

 Filled with eagerness, seniors Riti Patel, Preeti Kumar, Abigail Soriano, Maggie Mosier, and team captain, Sophia Gambescia stood on the starting line for their last Cherokee Challenge

 Gambescia felt the pressure since she’d medaled the previous three years at this race. Proving her outstanding abilities, she medaled for the fourth consecutive year. The coach, Michael Tangeman and the assistant coach, Nicole Meskin were excitedly awaiting the personal records the girls could attain following the next race.

 Coach Meskin, a former cross country runner and alumnus of Eastern, joined the Girls Cross Country Team this year as the new assistant coach. The team collectively agrees that her enthusiasm and passion as a coach has inspired the runners to work hard at practice and give it their all when racing. 

 Most importantly, she encourages the runners to become closer as a team and support each other. When Meskin was asked about the team experience, she said, “Because the team is family, the success of the individual is apparent in the success of the whole. Everyone builds on the success of others and this allows them to do the best they can do.

 “There have been huge time drops this year, and this can definitely be attributed to the effort and relationships from practice.”

 On September 17th 2022, they ran their first 5k race of the season, the Ray Hoagland Invite. Though it was quite hot, the girls powered through, with some receiving medals. In the JV race, senior Preeti Kumar received a medal, placing 13th for Eastern.

 In the varsity race, Gambescia, Mosier, and Bewley received medals along with a new personal best for senior, Maggie Mosier. Though the rocky terrain and hills weren’t favorable, the girls persevered and had a strong finish, leaving Eastern to hold a great reputation. 

 Perhaps the most exciting race of the season was held on September 23rd, 2022. At the Osprey Open hosted by Stockton University, the varsity girls awaited a great race. 

 As they began their 12 minute warm up run, an exciting energy fueled what was to come. Eastern’s varsity runners, Gambescia, Mosier, Becker, Bewley, Foster, Panchal, Spalter, and Hodnett began their race through the woods and out to the open grass.

 With Eastern’s JV runners and team managers, Gowri Manem and Sadia Manir, cheering them on, they felt unstoppable and managed to finish strong. Bewley, Becker, Mosier, Foster, and Panchal received new personal best times along with a season best time for Hodnett. 

 When asked for his opinion on Stockton, Tangeman said: “The meet down at Stockton in late September gave our athletes the opportunity to run a fast course against great competition. 

 “Those experiences and performances certainly improved our confidence moving into the second half of the season, where personal best times continued to be logged.”

 Batch meets were scattered throughout the month of September between the official meets. Batch meets are essentially meets that are unscored. The Girls Cross Country Team treated these as extra training, like workouts. 

 Although difficult and deemed as senseless by many of the members, the girls were still able to hit good times, workout speaking. All in all, the batch meets helped with training and benefited the girls in their official races. 

 Moving forward, the team attended the South Jersey Open at Dream Park on October 8th. This was a highly successful meet, as the team’s strategic training paid off.

 A large portion of the team hit personal record times, either on the course or overall: Gambescia, Mosier, Foster, Becker, Spalter, and Kumar.

 They left with high morale and a happy coach. An additional spirit lifter was when Lauren Kenselaar, a beloved Class of 2022 alumnus, came to cheer on the team.

 The team battled it out on October 19th at the Olympic Conference Championships, also held at Dream Park. With a sufficient amount of training, the team performed very well.

 Personal record times for the meet included Bewley and Gambescia with course personal records, and overall personal records for Becker, Spalter, Anderson, and Panchal.

 Especially considering the amount of members that had injuries of some type, the results had the varsity girls optimistic for what the rest of the season might hold. This, however, was the last meet for the JV team.

 Although the JV team is finished racing, they left off feeling confident, as their performance during the 2022 season was excellent.

 The varsity team, however, has one more meet, the NJSIAA Sectionals on October 29th, also at Dream Park. The maximum number of competitors is seven. The racers include: Sophia Gambescia, Regan Bewley, Maggie Mosier, Caroline Becker, Addison Foster, Kayla Spalter, and Brianna Panchal, with Taylor Hodnett as an alternate.

 Gambescia has high hopes for the rest of the season. “I think the team has done so well this past season. I can tell that the girls are putting in effort at practice and it shows in their performances during the meets.”

 She continued to talk about how there is only one meet left and thinks the varsity team is going to do great leading up to and during the last meet. “They all just have to trust their training and leave it all on the course and I believe they all will.”