Things were already looking good on Saturday for Martha’s Vineyard cross-country fortunes, and the middle school Hurricanes added to the scene.
Maia Donnelly (eighth grade) and Elizabeth Hoff (seventh grade), both of West Tisbury, finished among the elite runners in their respective races at the annual Massachusetts Middle School Cross-Country Championships in Devens as part of a 10-runner Island middle school team.
Maia finished 11th overall in the eighth grade girls’ race, and Elizabeth was 14th in the seventh grade girls race. Final results were not posted at presstime, but seventh and eighth grade fields normally include 150 to 200 runners at the middle school championships. “All the kids ran exceptionally well,” Coach Kim Kirk said of the middle school troupe that is building a reputation for high-level competitive running.
Many of the names on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School divisional champion teams of 2018 (girls) and 2019 (boys) came up through the Hurricane program, formally known as the Martha’s Vineyard Hurricanes Youth Running Club. The 2019 state cross-country girls team included Maia Donnelly, Elizabeth Hoff, Ellie Pennington (homeschooled), and twins Grace and Carly Coggins (Vineyard Montessori). The boys squad included Luke Goff (TIsbury), Otis Forrester (Tisbury), Sam MacPherson (Oak Bluffs), John Hoff (West Tisbury), and Walker Brescia (Oak Bluffs).
In 2015, the Hurricanes were comprised of two kids and two coaches. In 2019, they number two dozen fifth- through eighth-grade runners and the same two coaches, co-founders Kim Kirk and Reaan Steenkamp, both U.S Track Association–certified coaches.
The Youth Running Club introduces young athletes to the basics of running for fun, exercise, and competition, and serves to help more experienced young athletes to build on current skill levels.