By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — Julia Shorter had everything going for her yesterday as she cemented her legacy as the fastest female high school runner ever at Woodsom Farm.
The Amesbury senior conquered the relatively steep climb to the top of the farm for the final time in a dual meet against Newburyport, only to receive an invitation to the prom before she made her final descent.
Amesbury boys team member Riley O’Connor asked Shorter to the prom, and she accepted. Then it was back to business for Shorter, who broke her own record on the 2.9-mile course, finishing in 18:06.
“I’m used to this course, and I’m lucky that I get to train on it,” Shorter said. “It’s so tough, but this was my race. This felt like my race, and I wanted to do my best one last time.”
Shorter’s dual meet season has certainly set the tone for several potential milestones during the championship portion of the season in the weeks to come. Last season, her first as a member of the cross-country team, she did not compete at the Cape Ann League Championships, but did place 13th at the Division 5 Championships at the Wrentham Development Center in a time of 20:11, which qualified her for the All-State Championships.
With a year of cross-country experience under her belt to go along with her track background, Shorter came back this season in even better shape after training 30 to 40 miles per week over the summer. She attributes her added fitness to the motivation garnered when she dedicated her season to longtime Amesbury cross-country coach Mike Farmer, who lost his fight with cancer over the summer.
“I really wanted to get noticed by colleges, and personally, with Mike Farmer passing, I really wanted to run for him,” Shorter said.
Shorter, who holds the school record in the mile in 5:17, has shaved almost two minutes from her time since last season. In addition to breaking the course record at Woodsom Farm in three separate meets this season, she also broke the course record at Georgetown High, a record previously held by Pentucket alumna Abby D’Agostino, who is now running at Dartmouth.
“She did a lot of training over the summer,” said first-year Amesbury cross-country coach Ernie Bissaillon. “They all want to do something special for Coach Farmer, and everyone has gotten a lot faster. Most of the kids on the team are running two or three minutes faster than last season.”
Shorter has narrowed her college search to University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, UMass Lowell, UMass Amherst and Providence College. She has some recruiting visits planned for after the cross-country season.
“Hopefully the next couple of meets will help with that,” Shorter said. “I’m really looking to go top-five at (Cape Ann League Championships). I went to All-States last year, so I want to go again — maybe as a team this year.”
Shorter’s course record
Name: Julia Shorter
News: Broke Woodsom Farm course record