The Jags, runners-up for the state title in Ward’s first season, finished the job in 2013, beating Merrimack Valley for the Division 2 championship.
“We experienced the tragedy together,” said Ward, who got early season assistance from interim coach Katie Bourque. “These girls allowed me to face it head on and just embrace the fact that these things happen in life, but with hardship and hard work come great things.”
Windham has done little but win since Ward took over.
Over two seasons, Ward’s record stands at 28-4-2.
The coach will always have affection for this group of girls.
Said the coach about her late daughter, Clairee Ann: “These girls ... kept her memory alive.”
Boys Cross Country: Behan brings Owls to a peak
The objective in cross country is to peak at the end of the season at the championship races.
And that, under the guidance of veteran coach Mark Behan, is exactly what Timberlane did this year.
After finishing fifth in three large meets during the regular season, the Owls put it all together to finish third in the Division 1 meet, qualifying for the Meet of Champions for the first time since the school was elevated to Division 1 in 1998.
Led by an impressive surge from sophomore Liam Kimball, virtually every Timberlane runner improved during the season. At the Meet of Champions, they came within one place of qualifying for New England.
The success was certainly welcome for the 16th-year coach, but Behan is just as interested in having his athletes enjoy the sport.
“Being a member of the cross country team should be a positive experience,” said Behan, our girls cross country Coach of the Year in 2011. “I want to see the kids run well in the future and become runners for life.”
Long one of the top distance runners in the area, the former Haverhill High standout still runs with his team, even this year when bothered by a chronic injury. He alternates between different skill levels so that he can get to know everyone on the squad.