'Gansett finds a fountain of youth.

Byline: Rick Eggleston

COLUMN: Cross-Country

A look at last year's top 20 finishers in the girls' Central Mass. Division 2 championships reveals a startling fact - half were freshmen or seventh- and eighth-graders. The other half were either sophomores or juniors, with only two seniors in the bunch, while the top three overall, incredibly, were a freshman, junior and eighth-grader.

Indeed, the youth movement is alive and well on Central Mass. cross-country trails.

Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than at Narragansett Regional, where four of coach Joe DiMucci's top six runners are freshmen, followed by a sophomore and an eighth-grader.

"We're fortunate to have a lot of the kids running at the middle-school level," said DiMucci, whose school is one of a handful in CMass that allows seventh- and eighth-graders to participate at the varsity level. "They come in as seventh- and eighth-graders ready to go. Many of the kids have been running together since the fifth grade."

It's a two- to three-year head start that has paid off big for the No. 5 Warriors, especially the last two seasons.

At 10-0 overall and 4-0 in the Mid-Wach C, Narragansett is poised to wrap up an unbeaten dual-meet season and make a run at a top-three finish in the district meet next month.

"We lost one meet last season and just missed a top-three finish at districts," DiMucci said. "I always tell the girls, `You're only as good as your last race,' so that's how we approach things."

Then again, not getting ahead of themselves should come easy for the Warriors given their relatively young age. They've got plenty of time to work on their game and achieve their goals.

Leading the way are freshman twins Renee and Anna Capps, the former an eighth-place finisher at last year's district meet. They will again have to contend with defending champion Kate McGahie, a sophomore at Tahanto Regional; Whitinsville Christian senior Annaliese Vander Baan; Sutton High freshman Jessie Cardin; Bromfield School freshman Alexia Lipman; Notre Dame senior Hannah White, and Lunenburg High junior Jenn Markham.

The Capps sisters are followed by fellow freshmen Michelle Beaulieu and Kylie Chartier, while sophomore Amanda Stewart and eighth-grader Julie Moore round out the top six. They have been busy breaking in the new 3.1-mile course behind the Baldwinville school.

"The kids and their parents got together and cut a new path in the woods," DiMucci said. "(The course) hadn't changed for years, so it...

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