Thank goodness for Mike O’Donnell.
Not only did the Methuen star give the area something to cheer about in the postseason with his phenomenal performance in the EMass. Division 1 and Division 1 All-State meets and the Foot Locker Northeast Regional, but he may have laid the groundwork for a revival of the Rangers.
Let’s face it, it was not a good year for the area Massachusetts teams. Greater Lawrence, under head coach Jay Santomassino, enjoyed an exceptional undefeated season on the vocational level, coming within two points of the state Voke title, but no team was close to qualifying for the All-State meets — a disappointing development.
But, Methuen, with sophomores Matt Marchand, Cam Pavao, John St. Hilaire, Devin Allen and Will McGrath and freshman Jeff Reddy, has the potential to return to the high standard set by previous Ranger teams.
The potential showed when Methuen rolled to a resounding win in the sophomore race at the State Coaches meet.
Head coach Bill James, whose team dominated the MVC over a span of seven years, is cautiously optimistic, although he realizes that All-State champ Lowell will be tough to overtake.
“We do have a good sophomore class and they gave glimpses of good things to come, but it depends on how hard they work,” said James. “Having some big meet experience this year will help.”
As far as the required work, that shouldn’t be a problem according to the youngsters, and they have O’Donnell to thank for that.
“He (O’Donnell) taught us how to train and how to race,” said Marchand.
Added Pavao: “When you’re hurting and feel the pain, he tells us it’ll go away soon.”
All of the young Rangers will now turn their attention to track, with the hope of increasing their surge speed. But, make no mistake about it, cross country is in the back of their minds.