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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 6 years ago

Young runners lead Sandcrabs cross country


The 'Seabreeze Trio,' as Elizabeth Murray, Josie Gray and  Alyssa Bayliff are sometimes called, are only freshmen and sophomores. But they lead the Sandcrabs cross country squad.


With the cross country season winding down, the final meets take on greater importance, as runners jockey for position within their district. A single day's race could mean the difference between advancing to regionals or hanging up your running shoes for the offseason.

For the Seabreeze Sandcrabs girls team, the coaches look to two runners, specifically -- a freshman, Elizabeth Murray, and a sophomore, Josie Gray -- to put the team into position to advance.

“They’re the ones we look to and say, ‘Get us up there,’” coach Debora Diaz said, adding that Murray and Gray are known for consistently placing first and second. "We just depend on them a lot. They have a good supporting cast, don’t get me wrong, but they’re the ones that can come in first and second. That can make or break how we place.”

Murray and Gray make up two-thirds of what Diaz lightly refers to as the "Seabreeze Trio." The third runner is sophomore Alyssa Bayliff, who suffered a season-ending foot injury roughly three weeks ago but hasn’t distanced herself from the team.

“Yeah, it is really hard,” Bayliff said, of watching her teammates compete from the sidelines. “But I just think about coming back stronger. I’ll get through it.”

Bayliff has been working hard, Diaz said, and can regularly be seen riding the stationary bike just off the track on the Seabreeze campus, as her teammates train.

Her presence is indicative of her leadership, a quality also shared by Murray and Gray. They push each other, and their teammates, in practice the same as meets.

“It might not show on the outside, but definitely on the inside,” Gray said, of competition among teammates being healthy for the team. “You have to be mentally tough and have to force yourself to get up there with other people, not just physically, but mentally.”

Seabreeze’s success this season won’t just be because of what Murray or Gray do. It can’t. For the team to succeed, the Sandcrabs need five of their runners to run well.

But Diaz doesn’t seem to be mind that two of her top runners are underclassmen, who will likely have to outrun juniors and seniors. It also doesn’t seem to be something Murray, Gray or Bayliff are concerned about.

“I don’t really think about it (in terms of) age, because sometimes you can’t tell,” Gray said. “Sometimes it’s like, ‘Maybe she is my age,’ and you go up and ask them, and they are a freshman or a sophomore.”

Some of the older runners can also have less experience than the Trio.

“You don’t know if a junior just started (running) their junior year, or if they’ve been doing it for a long time,” Bayliff said. “So you can’t really go off of their age.”

And if other teams  haven't figured out yet how old the Seabreeze Trio really is, they’ll figure it out soon enough. They’ll be running against them next year, and the year after. This is only the beginning.

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