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Interval Session #82 - Ellie Hylton

By Dave Devine - November 13, 2008

In a region of the country stacked with talented girls teams, Lincoln-Sudbury of Massachusetts has managed to stand out, and senior Ellie Hylton is a big part of the reason why.  At last year's inaugural NTN Northeast Regional, L-S entered the meet ranked #3 in the region and walked away with the title and an automatic bid to the Finals at Portland Meadows.  Hylton was third runner on that regional win (14th overall), then went on to place 46th in Portland as her team claimed 8th place overall.  Determined to return to NXN FInals this season, Hylton and squad have hovered at the top of the Northeast rankings all fall, alternating the top spot with league rival Newton South as they've traded wins this autumn.  Currently installed at #10 on the Harrier Magazine Super 25, L-S had a big win at the Brown Invite, where Hylton led them with a 4th place, 17:56 effort, then claimed a strong fifth-place finish in the Manhattan Invitational Girls Eastern States race, where Hylton was #2 runner, 26th overall at 15:04. 

Working hard under new coach Henry Phelan--formerly at Bromfield MA where he mentored 2-time FL finalist Emily Jones--the Lincoln-Sudbury squad heads to the MA All-State meet this weekend at Franklin Park, hoping to avenge the latest narrow loss to Newton South at last week's MA Eastern Divisional.

DyeStat senior editor Dave Devine wades into the middle of one of the best team rivalries in the country to talk with one of the leaders behind Lincoln-Sudbury's success.
1) Lincoln-Sudbury is having another great year, and you're obviously a big part of that.  Can you talk about what it means to be a senior leader on a nationally-ranked team, and how much you focus on the rankings each week, versus just getting out there and running?
It's been an amazing experience. I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to mentor the younger members of the team this year--when I was a freshman, I didn't even expect myself to become a Varsity runner, let alone a leader of a nationally-ranked team. We are each other's motivation - we almost never focus on the rankings, because the rankings have no impact on our training or racing. Last year, we went into Regionals ranked 3rd, not expecting to qualify for NTN, and we won the regional meet.

2)  Your team made it to NTN in 2007, running as Wicked TC, and finished eighth overall in a highly competitive race.  What was that experience like for you and your teammates last year?  What memories did you take away from that trip to Portland, and how does that factor into your motivation to return again this year?

It was an incredible trip- we still talk about it all the time, and it has been motivation for us since day one this season. Spending four days among the best teams in the nation was an amazingly motivating and humbling experience. We've always been a pack-running team, but that race taught us even more the importance of having a tight pack of 5, and that has been a big focal point this season.

3) Your team is in a pretty unique situation: the only team currently ahead of you in the Northeast Regional ranking is in your own league-- Newton South.  What's it like having to face them so many times during the season?  Does it get old after awhile?  Is it hard to get up for so many competitive races, highly motivating, or something in between? Counting the NXN Northeast Regional race, how many times will you have raced Newton South this season?
It is definitely a highly motivating situation to be in-- it hasn't gotten old. They've always been some of our biggest competition, but this season has been unlike any other in my four years at LS, because almost every championship race is like another dual meet against NS. Counting NXN Regionals, we will have raced them 5 times this season.

4) There's a cool tradition between two of the top New Mexico boys teams-- Albuquerque Academy and Los Alamos--that every time they race each other they take a "Red and Green" photo afterwards, standing side by side, even if they had a close, hard-fought race.  I saw a picture of your team and Newton South after the recent Dual County League Championship (below right) which reminded me of those Red and Green photos.  Is it a pretty friendly rivalry with NS?  Have you sort of earned each other's respect through all these close races?
Yes, definitely. We don't really have a tradition of taking a picture side by side, but I think it has become an increasingly friendly rivalry as we've gotten to know the NS girls and earned each other's respect over the years. And our coaches are good friends.

5) I understand that you have a new coach this year, with Henry Phelan moving from Bromfield MA to coach at Lincoln-Sudbury.  How has that transition gone, and what things have you learned from Coach Phelan that have helped you this season?
The coaching transition has gone remarkably smoothly. We had a wonderful experience under Chris Tarello, who brought our team very far. The transition this August was seamless- Henry's coaching has been fantastic and he has inspired us to reach new levels of success this year.

6) What does a typical week of training for Lincoln-Sudbury look like?  What are some of the bread-and-butter workouts you use to test your fitness or your progress throughout the season?  How about the hardest workout you can recall running?

A typical week of training starts on Monday with our combined long run and tempo workout. Throughout the week, we run a lot of hills. The hardest workout I recall running this season... would probably be a tie between 10x a hill in Sudbury called Kato, and a Saturday morning workout at LS which was a combined threshold, interval, and hill workout.

7) What was your own path into the sport of running?  Were you initially involved in other sports first, or was running something you started right off the bat?  It can be a pretty individual pursuit at times, but has being part of such a successful team made it more of a collective experience?

I started running in 7th grade on the XC team at my middle school. I played soccer up until then. I couldn't imagine running without my teammates. We have a saying on our team: that the 7th girl only gets better because of the 8th runner, the 13th only gets better because of the 14th, and the 1st runner could never be where she is if it weren't for the 30 other girls behind her, pushing her and encouraging her every day. The saying has become sort of cliche, but there's truth in it. The success of the team is shared by every member of the team and has made us even closer.

8) Most people I meet from Boston (or nearby) are pretty proud of their city.  What are a few great things about living in Eastern Massachusetts
near Boston/?

Boston is one of the best cities in the country! It is a great cultural area and, from the perspective of a runner, Boston is a wonderful place to be because of the strong running community and the history with the Boston Marathon. There are also many great trails and parks to run in.  

Photos: Top, Jeannette Seckinger from MA Eastern Divisionals; Bottom, Sue Chari from Dual County League Champs

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