NSAF Coach of the Week: Annemarie Marino, Barrington RI girls XC

For week ending Sept. 7, 2013

For being the smallest state (by area), Rhode Island produces more than its share of outstanding prep distance runners, plus strong boys and girls XC teams and distance crews.  Consider the years of success for schools like Bishop Hendricken (boys) and La Salle Academy (girls), both on the oval and over hill and dale.  Or the more recent success of Chariho, which won the boys 4x1 Mile Relay at New Balance Nationals Indoor in 2012.

The girls of Barrington have always been in that mix, but the last few years have found them rising to a higher level.  Under veteran coach Annmarie Marino, the Lady Eagles have claimed the past two RIIL state titles in XC after three years of runner-up finishes to La Salle.  2012 also saw the Lady Eagles claim their first New England Championships title and finish 3rd (as a club team) in NXN Northeast.

Now in 2013, Barrington is primed for state honors again, and hopes to take it to the next level by making it to Portland for the first time.  Last weekend, they opened at the Injury Fund Carnival in Burrillville, winning the Hindley division handily with 24 points.  Soph Emma McMillan, who emerged as a freshman star and state champ in 2012-13, led the way in 3rd with 19:29, then the Lady Eagles had a strong pack in 4th through 8th place.  The team is also looking forward to returning to Great American, where they were 4th in 2012.

Coach Marino has been leading the program the past 25 years, racking up more than 20 divisional and Class B titles in XC and track (where she formerly coached), but again, the past few years have been particularly outstanding.

A few of Coach Marino’s thoughts:

Regarding her team's summer training and how she was looking at the team coming in:  “We had a very productive summer.  Each athlete came in June focused and prepared to do their homework, so to speak. We worked on strengthening the total athlete, focusing on functional movements in hopes of building a smarter body and athlete.  Our returnees include sophomore Emma McMillan, and four seniors: Megan Verner-Crist, Julianna Portelli, Abigail Livingston, and Mary Kate Coogan.  Our newcomers, sophomore Julia Zitzmann and junior Elizabeth Sawyer, have added depth with their speed and strength.”

How she felt about the Injury Fund race and the way most of her girls ran in a pack:  “The Injury Fund race was one for us to build team unity and get the kinks out. Our cycle of training has been challenging and to put a hard race effort in on that given day would have set us back. We also have plans on running the Hartford Invite this Saturday, so two hard efforts this early in the season didn't make sense. Our pack mentality was to run all seven together, give a little confidence to our two younger athletes.  Emma our number one that day, got out quick and rather than slow down just kept her pace up, but a bit ahead of her pack.  Julia, our number seven for the day, had a fever that morning.  She hung with them for two miles, then backed off a bit. So I would consider that a win in the team unity column.

Regarding ultimate goals for the girls this fall, in terms of Rhode Island, the region and nationally:  “Our ultimate goals are to stay focused, disciplined, motivated and – more importantly – to continually become better individuals and teammates, on and off the course. To become the Rhode Island State Champions would be a thrill; I don't think that could ever get old for the kids. Regionally, we were disappointed last year, so to score in the top two spots and earn a birth to the Nike Nationals is something that has been on their minds since last November. If we were to make it to the nationals, top 10 would be an exciting place to fall.  It would definitely put a cherry on top of their XC season, in particular for the seniors that have worked so hard throughout the high school career.


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