“We are here to work.” Old Rochester girls track wins SCC title

Feb 6, 2024

MATTAPOISETT — Some might think of track as an individual sport, but when it comes to the Old Rochester Regional High School girls track and field program, it is all about the team as a whole.

Old Rochester track Co-Head Coach Jessica Pilla said that strong leadership of upperclassmen paired with a talented group of underclassmen is the reason why the Bulldogs are 2024 South Coast Conference champions.

“We have a lot of solid upperclassmen that show up on meet day and make sure everyone is competing,” said Pilla. “They made sure that the younger athletes bought into the program.”

According to Pilla, the upperclassmen have welcomed a talented freshman class with open arms.

“[The upperclassmen] have done a really nice job of making them feel like they belong — making them feel like they matter,” said Pilla. “As much as track can be individual sometimes, it really is a team effort in the sense that without [the freshmen] we wouldn't be South Coast Conference champions.”

One senior that shows younger athletes what the program is all about is Captain Alexia Gonsalves.

“She has been instrumental to our team this year,” said Pilla. “She runs the one mile and two mile at every meet and never bats an eye. She does a great job of including everyone and leading by example.”

Pilla and Co-Head Coach Bill Tilden agree that there is a standard within the program of hard work at every practice and meet.

Pilla said there is a general feeling at practices that is understood by all, but doesn’t need to be said aloud — “we are here to work.”

“Our goal is to get everyone into the best shape of their lives so it’s going to be hard work,” said Tilden. “There are some practices where you want to cry when you hear [what you’re doing], but you’re so proud of yourself when you’ve completed them.”

The Bulldogs have claimed the South Coast Conference regular season title. On Saturday, Feb. 10, the team will compete in the South Coast Conference Championship meet.

Ten Old Rochester athletes have already qualified for the Massachusetts Division IV state championship on Sunday, Feb. 18: Rayn Lauradin, Emily Abbott, Madison Conner, Cassidy Carroll, Delilah Post, Aubrey Heise, Audrey Thomas, Scarlet Patnaude, Hanna Whalley and Gonsalves.

Along with coaching track, Pilla teaches chemistry. She has been at Old Rochester for five years after a stint at Fairhaven High School.

“It’s nice to see the kids outside of the classroom,” said Pilla. “Chemistry isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but in track everyone wants to be here and work hard.”
Tilden cited depth as the main strength of the team.

“With having depth, we have been able to shift kids around rather than sticking them in one event where they could get stale,” said Tilden. “By changing it up, I think they are running better than we even expected.”

Tilden noted Abbott and Conner as two athletes who have the potential to compete for a state championship.