2015-10-02 / Team Leominster

Barrett Park wows as new home for cross country meets

By David Dore


The Leominster and Shrewsbury cross country teams took to the trails at Barrett Park Tuesday afternoon for the Blue Devils’ second home meet of the season. The home meets moved to Barrett Park this year. 
David Dore photos The Leominster and Shrewsbury cross country teams took to the trails at Barrett Park Tuesday afternoon for the Blue Devils’ second home meet of the season. The home meets moved to Barrett Park this year. David Dore photos The Leominster High School cross country teams have a new course this year — a course that has impressed runners and spectators alike.

When the Blue Devils host cross country meets, the races are now being run at the recently renovated Barrett Park. According to cross country coach Danielle Lussier, they had been run on the roads around Leominster High School for almost 35 years.

“The course at the high school was getting just a little dangerous with the cars driving fast on Granite Street and Exchange Street,” she said, “so we thought it would be a good idea to change it.”

The first-ever home meet at Barrett Park was held Tuesday, Sept. 22 against North Middlesex.

“We had a lot of parents that came last week, and a lot of parents even from the other school saying how beautiful it was, what a beautiful park it was, how it was kind of a gem up here that a lot of people don’t know about,” Lussier said before the teams’ second home meet Tuesday afternoon against Shrewsbury. “A lot of kids on our team had never been here before. So we’re very fortunate to be able to run here, and all the work that they’ve done it’s so beautiful.”

The 40-acre park off Pleasant Street underwent nearly $600,000 in improvements over the last year, including to the trails that run through the park.

The 3.1-mile (5-kilometer) circuit around Barrett Park is “98 percent woods,” Lussier explained. “There’s just a little tiny spot on the road, out in front of the park, but we try to utilize as much of the park as we can. It’s a challenging course. It’s definitely not an easy course. It’s very hilly. But the first group that ran on it last week seemed to really enjoy it, so hopefully the team today feels the same.”

“The coaches have been thoughtful in laying out the course, which now allows for spectators to view the race at three different times while still remaining at a central location,” Leominster High School Interim Athletic Director Laureen Cipolla said in a Sept. 20 email to the Champion.

Lussier and Cipolla thanked Leominster Recreation Director Judith Sumner and the Recreation Department for their assistance.

“Judy Sumner and the Recreation Department have been great partners in moving the high school course off the city roads and into the beautiful park,” Cipolla said.

Lussier said the Leominster teams that take to the trails at Barrett Park this year are small, with 25 boys and 13 girls, and young, with two seniors on the boys’ team (lead runner Mike Hutchinson and Jessie Spinelli) and just one senior on the girls’ team (Alli Delguidice). The girls’ team also includes juniors Emma Cucchiara and Jocelyn Mendes and sophomore Ally Gagne, while the boys’ team includes sophomore Nick Malm.

“We’re not as big as we’ve been in the past,” Lussier said, “but we have a really, really group of kids and they’re working hard, so that’s all that matters.”

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