Tuesday marks the FCIAC Cross Country Championships and one of the female athletes that’s expected to make her mark is someone who has made a habit of running away from the competition — Greenwich’s Mari Noble.
A junior, Noble placed third at last season’s FCIAC girls cross country championships, before placing first at the 2018 Class LL meet and third at the CIAC State Open.
The Cardinals’ standout runner enters Tuesday’s 2 p.m. FCIAC meet at Waveny Park in New Canaan determined to once again, excel at the meet for her team, which should be one of the contenders at the competition.
“This is the first time we will race against everyone in the league, so we have to put everything into this meet,” Noble said. “I am looking forward to seeing how our team does. We have a great group of girls, we just need a day, where we put it all together.”
Noble has followed a sensational sophomore season with an impressive junior campaign thus far. She finished first in each of Greenwich’s meets against FCIAC opponents during the regular season — meets that were held at various venues.
“I’m really happy with how the season has gone so far,” Noble said. “I have run on some flat courses, some hilly courses and I am impressed with how our team has done. Our meets have been close and we are excited for the championship season.”
Greenwich’s top runner burst onto the scene in her first season on the squad in 2018. A strong regular season was followed by a first-place finish at the Class LL Championships, as she crossed the finish line first in 18:57. At the State Open, Noble placed third in 18:59 and she was fourth at the New England Championships. She was third at the 2018 FCIAC Championships at Waveny Park.
Last season’s cross country accomplishments served as extra motivation to Noble.
“I was really pleasantly surprised and excited with how last season went,” Noble said. “Going into the season, I didn’t know where I would be in the mix. Doing well encouraged me to train hard, enjoy the sport and pursue it even more.”
Though last season was Noble’s first on the Cardinals squad, she was pretty well-versed in the sport.
“I did cross country in middle school (Greenwich Country Day School), but I knew last season was going to be pretty different,” Noble said. “I knew there were going to be a lot of strong high school girls runners. My season surprised me, but it gave me a lot of confidence going into track season. Coming away with that Class LL win last year gave me a boost of confidence.”
Indeed, competitive running runs in the Noble family. Her father competed on the track and field team at Yale University, where one of his events was the 800-meter run. Mari’s brother Charles is a freshman on Greenwich’s boys’ cross country team, which competes at the FCIAC Championships at Waveny on Tuesday.
“My father got me and my brother into running at an early age,” Noble said. “I was in seventh grade when I was on the cross country team at Greenwich Country Day School and I felt that I really got into it in ninth grade. When I got to Greenwich High School, I made sure to really work on my training.”
The track and field season in the spring enabled Noble to work on cross country running skills. She won the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter titles at the 2019 girls track and field cross country championships.
“I love doing the two-mile race and I was able to discover a new race — the mile — and experiment with it,” Noble said. “By training for the mile and using faster-paced workouts, I was able to develop more of a kick for cross country season.
“Two-miles on the track is more of a faster pace and one mile is such a quick race. There is a lot less time to strategize and it makes you move at a faster rate. Being able to do that also helped prepare me to compete in cross country.”
With her teammates, Noble has spent the days leading up to the FCIAC Championships and the postseason physically and mentally preparing for the challenges ahead.
“I make sure I eat the right foods, with proteins and carbs and we all talk to our coach (Evan Dubin) about strategies,” Noble said. “Coach Dubin really helps me to manage the stress involved. I just want to be able to put the team in a good spot.”
Some of Greenwich’s other top girls runners include senior Zoe Harris, sophomore Kaitlyn Lisjak and sophomore Ana Catarina Gaspar and junior Eadaoin Clarke
“It’s really fun being an upperclassman this year,” Noble said. “There are more leadership opportunities and I enjoy setting an example for the girls and encouraging the younger athletes, who are such a big part of the team. Our coach wants us to put it all out there and make that extra effort and make sure we leave it all out on the course.”
As for Noble’s goals during the postseason?
“I usually don’t create that many time goals,” she said. “It depends on the weather and the competition, but I would love to run faster than I ran last year. A good postseason for me would be finishing all my races, knowing I left everything out on the course. I’ve put in some good training runs and workouts and I feel prepared and well-rested going into FCIACs.”