Hard work and determination earned Maggie Donahue a trip to Saturday's Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in her inaugural season of cross country this fall. But the Wellesley junior also gives credit to her teammates for inspiring her to her second-place finish at the NXN Northeast Regionals, a top-five finish that punched her ticket out west.
"I really wasn't expecting it. I knew coming in I wanted to place in the top five. I didn't really know the field. I wasn't aware of all the girls," she said. "As a team, that really motivated me to go out and hopefully get one of the top places and just finish the season strong."
Donahue has indeed finished the season strong. She has finished as a runner-up in her last three races, placing second to Natick's Grace Connolly at the Eastern Massachusetts Division 1 Championships and the All State Finals and then at NXN-NE, where she was just nine seconds behind individual titlist and recent New England champion Julie Robitaille.
"I am pretty happy at how I have been placing the last (few) weeks," she said. "I would say that I am peaking at the right time."
Goal-wise, Donahue wants to run a competitive race at NXN.
"I have no idea right now," she said after her race on Saturday. "I am going to go home, and look at the results from today and the last few weeka. at the other regionals. We'll see when we get there."
Donahue will join fellow Bay Stater Andrew Mah of Newton North at the Glendoveer Golf Course, the site of NXN since 2014. Mah placed third at the regional meet where he ran a time of 16:03.2 to earn a qualifying spot in Oregon.
"That was my number one goal," he said. "I kind of wanted to win, but I'm pretty happy I qualified."
Mah's race at the regionals was typical to what he's been doing all season. He took the lead going up the steep incline near the midway point of the race. He was 7:54 at 1.55 miles.
"There was a few guys in the top pack and at about a mile and a half at the top of the hill I put in a pretty big surge and on the downhill I opened up a pretty big gap," he said. "I was trying to keep pushing and then with a mile to go I was getting tired and the two guys behind me kind of caught up to me and right before the finish they passed me. I was just dead at that point."