Berkley High cross country runners Asher Schreiber, left, and Sarah Bill take part in a recent practice. Coming into this season, Berkley’s girls team had won three consecutive Oakland Activities Association Blue Division championships.

Berkley High cross country runners Asher Schreiber, left, and Sarah Bill take part in a recent practice. Coming into this season, Berkley’s girls team had won three consecutive Oakland Activities Association Blue Division championships.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Berkley High cross country is back in the ‘Blue’

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published October 15, 2019

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BERKLEY — Earlier this year, something happened that has been unusual for Berkley High’s girls cross country team in recent years — the Bears didn’t finish first at an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division jamboree.

After winning nine of them over the course of the past three seasons, Berkley finished second at OAA Blue Jamboree No. 1 last month.

The Bears’ girls squad has won three consecutive OAA Blue championships, and not being the best in the division is something coach Jared Purcell hasn’t been accustomed to in recent years.

“You tend to feel a little spoiled after you have success like we’ve had in our league the last couple years,” Purcell said. “Finishing second at the first one was a little bit different. … Obviously, we were disappointed we didn’t get first, but we didn’t let it define who we are as a team.”

Berkley went on to finish third at OAA Blue Jamboree No. 2. The final jamboree was scheduled for Oct. 15, after press time.

After graduating a large group from last season’s squad — including Emma Murray and Kenna Childress, who were both state qualifiers last year — Purcell isn’t expecting Berkley to be in the mix for an OAA Blue title or a trip to the state finals.

“Winning three league championships in a row, there was really a shift in the mindset of what it takes to be successful in this program,” he said. “Despite battling graduation losses, things like that, it really hasn’t really fallen off in terms of the work ethic. I’m really proud of the way they approach practice, the way they approach meets and things like that. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. We had a really big senior group graduate last year. And these seniors this year have stepped up admirably.”

Although Purcell said the Bears aren’t as deep as they have been the last three years, they still have some runners who can help the program, including juniors Tessa Voss, Rebecca Feber and Charlotte Capuano.

The Bears have also received contributions from seniors Charlotte Squires, Quinn Collins, Sarah Bill, Yael Chimovitz, Brooke Sherman and Maggie LaFramboise, along with junior Natalie Mulheron and freshman Nina Freeman. Freeman is the only freshman to run in a varsity race this year.

As for Berkley’s boys squad, Purcell said it is a rebuilding year. However, there is reason for supporters to be enthusiastic about the program’s potential.

“We’re really excited about the freshman group we have,” Purcell said. “(It) has a chance to be one of the best classes that’s come through the program since I started coaching in 2010. … We haven’t qualified for states as a team since I’ve been coaching the boys, and I think by the time these freshmen reach their senior year, we’ll have a shot at it.”

Some of the freshmen who make up the squad include Matthew Short, Nate Jeup, Oliver Wisniewski, Jonah Weinbaum, Alexander Statetzny and Isaac Dean.

Other runners on the team include seniors Nick Lyskawa, Clark Fadoir, Connor McCaffrey and Maxwell Kopitz, along with junior Brandon Mar.

Purcell shared his thoughts as to the state of Berkley’s boys program.

“For the boys side, ‘potential’ is the biggest word there,” he said. “With our freshman class, I’ve never seen as much potential with the team that we have currently.”

As for the girls, Purcell noted that there isn’t as much depth as usual.

“But we’re in very good hands with our current junior class,” he said. “I guess the main word for the girls team this year is ‘optimistic.’”

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