Lower Moreland XC 2021: A Season to Remember


The team at Lehigh after a sweeping victory at the League Championship

Hannah Vaidyan

The 2021 season for the Lower Moreland Cross Country team was built on the hard work, dedication, and camaraderie of the team members. Though the cross country season officially starts in August, training begins at the end of June. Many of the upperclassmen and returning members of the team began their training in the heat of summer, running almost every day, and sometimes twice a day, in the weeks approaching the official start of preseason. The teams found motivation in each other, enduring workouts and long runs together, building friendships, and encouraging each others’ success. At the beginning of preseason, the cross country program had its biggest turnout in recent history, with an influx of incoming freshmen, along with returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Weather and the constraints of school life did not hold the team back, as they planned indoor workouts, braved the elements, and worked out over weekends and breaks to sustain momentum.


The first race of the season, a scrimmage at Wissahickon, yielded a win for the girls and a second place finish for the boys, marking the beginning of a strong season. Both teams went on to win league meets against Springfield, Cheltenham, Upper Moreland, and New Hope-Solebury, as well as to race competitively at invitational events in Kutztown, Gettysburg, Hershey, Souderton, and at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia. As the end of the season approached, the team prepared to face off against their league rival, William Tennent, a week before the League Championships at Lehigh University. After a grueling physical and mental battle, Lower Moreland was defeated. The teams, however, did not let this loss go easily, and went into the League Championships with an attitude to win. 


Neither team disappointed. The boys’ varsity team earned first place, led by Shae Woods, now league champion with a time of 16:19. The girls’ varsity team, led by Siri Hellenbrand and Amelia Ogawa placing second and third respectively, also came through with a win, meaning that both teams were successful in their comeback against William Tennent. The race marked the end of the junior varsity season and yielded impressive personal records for some members for the team. The team set their sights on Lehigh University once again and the date of Friday, October 29, this time to compete in the District 1 race, the qualifying event for the State Championship. 

The girls excitedly take the League trophy for the first time since 2014

For the boys’ team, it was going to be a close race, as they were the underdogs in their placement against their rival Holy Ghost Prep. The goal was for the top four runners on the boys’ team to finish in the top 10 in order to qualify for States individually, just in case the team did not qualify by winning the District. The race between LM and HGP was very close, with Jack Becker and Shae Woods getting out to a competitive start against James Corbett of Holy Ghost. By the end of the race, Lower Moreland’s top four runners– Noah Kim, Tom Mavroudis, Jack Becker, and Shae Woods– were all among the top 10 finishers. Unfortunately, Lower Moreland came in second overall to Holy Ghost, making them unable to qualify for States as a team. However, the boys made Lower Moreland history, qualifying four individuals for the State race in a single year. 


The goal for the girls’ team, ranked as the team to beat, was to earn one of the two team spots for the State Championship. There was strong team morale going into the race. However, the race did not go as smoothly as the girls had hoped, as the team faced stiff competition from Pope John Paul II High School and Gwynedd-Mercy Academy. With one of the strongest members of the team facing unexpected challenges during the race, the other girls had to step up to stand a chance against their rival schools. Lower Moreland’s Siri Hellenbrand came in second to Pope John Paul’s returning District Champion Gianna Cagliola, finishing with a time of 19:51. Neither Coach Gregory Green nor the girls were confident in their ability to secure a berth in the State Championship. However, the powers of a monkey mascot–a stuffed monkey they had found on the trail the previous week–and the running gods were on their side that day. The girls’ team secured a narrow one-point win over PJP, with GMA only three points behind them. 


Regarding the win, Coach Green said: “We got lucky, but good teams are lucky. Lucky is in good teams.” By winning districts, the girls’ varsity team–Ava Lee, Hannah Vaidyan, Siri Hellenbrand, Anna Mazik, Ava Devlin, Amelia Ogawa, Sienna Lee, and Kennedy Durand–qualified to compete in States for the first time since 2011.


On Saturday, November 6th, the Lower Moreland Cross Country team found themselves on the way to Hershey, PA, to compete in the PIAA State Championship. Excitement and tensions were high during the trip, warranting a signature pep talk from Coach Green, whose message resonated with the spirit of the competition: “Who knows if you’ll be here again– just go and have fun!” 


The girls’ team, led by Siri Hellenbrand, proudly finished 16th in the AA race, making a name for themselves on the course, with the goal of coming back even stronger next year. The boys, led by Jack Becker, had a great race afterwards. Both races served as the perfect bittersweet finish to the cross country season: the final race for the seniors, but the sign of a bright future for the team.

The team gathers for a picture following the last race of their season at the State Championships

The 2021 cross country team gained a reputation for being hardworking, dedicated, and, most importantly, welcoming to all. Brought together by a mentally and physically demanding sport, the students involved this year became not only teammates, but family.


All photo credit goes to Taka Ogawa.