EASTHAM — When the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) announced that competition in fall high school sports season would take place under new guidelines, Nauset High cross country coach Moira Nobili and the team’s runners were more than happy just to be running — but they wanted to win, too.
Before the season began, senior captain Izzy Nobili said she was happy there would be “some sort of season.” But what she really wanted was to compete.
“To end senior year without a season would be tough,” she said. “This is one last hoorah.”
Fellow senior captain Finn Riley had similar thoughts.
“This is what we’ve been training toward for months,” he said at the beginning of the season. “Now we have a chance to compete.”
“Before the season started, I told the kids, ‘This is all different and new, but you still have to look at it like a competitive season,’ ” Coach Nobili said. “We want to try and win, not just be so lucky to run.”
Nobili, Riley, and the rest of the Nauset squad brought that spirit to the Cape and Islands League Championship meet on Nov. 7 at Sandwich High School — and the girls came away with the Cape and Islands Atlantic Division first prize.
The boys finished the shortened regular season with a record of 4-0, while the girls ran to a 3-1 finish.
Every team in the league competed in the meet. The Nauset girls had lost 28-27 to Barnstable earlier this season, but they were able to best the Red Raiders on Saturday.
This is a repeat as division champions for the girls. They won with a total score of 29; Barnstable finished second with a score of 47, Dennis-Yarmouth placed third with 59, Sandwich scored 98 points for fourth place, and Falmouth rounded out fifth with 123.
The Nauset boys, though undefeated in the regular season, lost to Barnstable in the championship meet. Barnstable finished first with 27, while Nauset took second with 36. Sandwich was a distant third with a score of 91, Dennis-Yarmouth fourth with 98, and Falmouth fifth with 111.
Nauset also had the day’s top individual runners. For the girls, Nobili finished the race with a time of 19 minutes, 58 seconds; leading the boys, Riley finished in 17 minutes, 52 seconds.
“It was great,” Coach Nobili said, “but it was a different great.”
The team was excited for both senior runners to finish this season on top.
“I’m really glad for all the seniors in the league,” she said. “I’m very proud that they ended it on such a good note.” She gave Riley a shout out for his hard work.
The competitors ran in pods of 5 to 10 athletes instead of running together in one large group as they normally would. But Nobili said the hardest thing wasn’t the required social distance.
“The hardest part was it was 72 degrees,” she said. “It was the heat and the hills.”
Sandwich High School’s course is hillier than most courses in the league, and this November day was particularly warm. The shortened season started in early October, which is later in the year than normal, so cross country athletes have become accustomed to running in the cold.
“The times really reflected the effect the heat had on the kids,” Nobili said. “It’s already a grueling course.”
But Nauset persevered. Senior Makayla Hutchinson competed with an ankle injury to finish 10th out of 30 runners.
Fellow senior Rachel Pranga has been hurt for the last two years and unable to compete. But she ran her way to fourth place at the league meet.
“It was a gift she was able to run,” Nobili said.
Nauset usually holds its winter indoor track season meets at Wheaton College in Norton. But plans for the indoor track season remain undetermined. Nobili said the Mass. State Track Coaches Association (MSTCA) was scheduled to hold a meeting this week to discuss the indoor track season.
“It’s up in the air right now,” Nobili said.
Now that they’ve had the experience of competing well with new guidelines for social distancing in place, Coach Nobili and the rest of the Nauset runners are more optimistic about the outdoor track season in the spring.
Cape and Islands League postseason play continues in soccer as well. The Nauset girls soccer team will host the winner of the Falmouth Clippers vs. Dennis-Yarmouth Dolphins on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. Following that game, the boys soccer team hosts the winner of the Sandwich Blue Knights vs. Falmouth Clippers at 6:30 p.m.