Athlete Spotlight: Mount Greylock's Lilly and Jackie Wells
Before trekking off to Fitchburg, where they were a part of the Central/Western Massachusetts record-setting 4x800-meter relay team, Mount Greylock sisters Lilly and Jackie Wells dropped by the Berkshire Eagle offices to take part in the Athlete Spotlight series. A transfer senior and freshman, respectively, from Mohawk, the girls detailed what it's been like to be a part of two state championships in one year, and another postseason title with the track and field team. Lilly and Jackie also discuss their strong bond as sisters, moving from Ashfield to Williamstown, the best mud pie in Western Mass., and much, much more.
Berkshire Eagle: Walk us through your transferring from Mohawk to Mount Greylock prior to this school year.
Lilly Wells: We lived in Ashfield, but moved in part so Jackie could have better educational opportunities at Mount Greylock. We knew all throughout last year, it was a family discussion and we came and toured over the winter and decided finally in the spring. Now we live in Williamstown.
BE: What was your first day like?
Jackie Wells: My first day was cross-country practice. Lilly actually had to work, so I went by myself and we ran, they called it 'five mile loop'. The team was super welcoming, and coach Bell was really inclusive right from the start.
LW: They were accepting of me even though I started the year with tonsillitis, so my voice was several octaves below.
BE: What are some of the big differences between Ashfield and Williamstown?
LW: In Ashfield there is really one main street with about five stores, so its much more urban here. It's nice having more places to eat, having the Clark Art Institute nearby, and the colleges.
BE: And you just signed to continue running at Williams College.
LW: I applied early decision, so I've known since December. I did a couple of overnights at some schools, and I just really liked the team and coach at Williams, and had a really good experience. I was just taken with the area and the school and everything it has to offer.
BE: Do you two have similar study interests?
LW: I'm going into Williams as undecided, but definitely interested in psychology, history and international affairs.
JW: My favorite class right now is physics in ninth grade, but I also really like the math of it, as well as history, but we'll see what classes I get to take next year too.
BE: What's going to happen with Lilly wrapping up classes this week?
LW: Two days! Can you tell I'm excited?
JW: I'm jealous, but it's back to the bus for me.
LW: Maybe if I'm feeling nice, or she bribes me with some more homemade breakfasts I'll get up to drive her still.
BE: Are you both morning people?
LW: We're mostly up at the same time. Sometimes we'll go for a run in the morning, or there is a Fit Club workout club at school.
BE: Do you two have any other siblings?
LW: Our older sister was killed in a car crash several years ago. She had just graduated from Harvard. I was in eighth grade. Working through it together definitely made us stronger as younger sisters.
BW: What's the best gift you've gotten from each other?
LW: Jackie is a really good cook, and one Valentine's Day she made me like a five-course meal. That was pretty memorable.
JW: Lilly is good when she gives gifts. She always writes little notes with puns and sweet sayings. So there are a lot of gifts she's given me that are sentimental or funny.
BE: If one of your new friends was heading to Ashfield, what tips would you give them?
LW: My favorite part is the Ashfield Hardware Store in the center of town. I actually worked there last summer, and it's run by these two women who are just the heart of the town. Everyone comes in and there's ice cream, and they have a kids market on the weekends where kids bring homemade things. Also, best mud pie in Western Mass.
JW: There's also our favorite run. There's a cool one that goes up the ridge overlooking the fire tower, and it looks over Shelburne Falls.
BE: Vis versa, what were you told about the Berkshires?
LW: On the theme of ice cream, everyone talked about Lickety Split.
JW: I feel like many of our adventures have been food related. The Smith sisters, Margo and Josie, introduced us to breakfast at Blueberry Hill.
BE: What's the go-to spot to eat in your new hometown?
LW: Well we just went to Blueberry Hill with the Smiths. The crunchy French toast, highly recommend.
BE: Any other summer jobs you've worked?
JW: Last summer we both actually worked at Mayhew Steel Factory in Turners Falls. I mostly did filing and shredding papers.
LW: It was mostly office work; cataloging the items, but I got to go out into the warehouse and weigh the steel tools. It was fun.
JW: We'd have fun lunch breaks for sure.
BE: What are you looking forward to this summer?
LW: We have several hiking trips planned as a family. We grew up loving to do that together. I'm also working at Stowe Running Camp in Vermont, which she's actually going to. It's right next to the Ben & Jerry's factory.
JW: Hopefully do some runs with our cross-country teammates as well, before the season starts.
LW: Williams will give me a summer training program, but I'm sure I can rope Jackie into coming with me.
BE: What mountains have you hiked around here?
JW: Just this passed year we completed the New England Hundred Highest. It's the 100 highest peaks in New England. That took a long time, but it was really fun. I think I was six when we first started.
LW: Now, we're looking to the Adirondacks and working on that list.
BE: What's the best vacation you guys have had?
LW: When we were much younger, we went to Scotland. We went on this hike starting at like 8 in the morning and it was raining the whole day, but we thought we'd be done by 4. Turns out, this hike was a bit more ambitious.
JW: Our guide thought we were looking for a bit more. It was called Pinnacle Ridge. We got to the summit at like 7 o'clock for sunset, and we weren't out of there until 10.
LW: It was a really fun experience though. Beautiful views, and we really like the mountains.
BE: Do you guys have any plans for Memorial Day Weekend, other than the Central/Western Mass. meet?
LW: We'll both be marching in the Williamstown parade with the band. I'm a flute and she plays trumpet.
JW: It's actually the only class we've ever had together. When we practice at home the dogs like to howl along with us, and our dad plays trumpet too. So we have a whole five-person band if you count the dogs.
BE: You've now won two state titles and have a shot at a third, did you envision having such success at Greylock?
LW: I definitely knew going into the year, knowing how many strong athletes Greylock has that we'd compete at a high level.
JW: Cross-country we were hopeful.
LW: This year couldn't have gone better. I'm so proud of our teams and all the work that everyone has put into it.
JW: Everyone is just really supportive of each other. It's a great environment. With cross-country, coach Bell really is good about training throughout the season, so you peak at the end.
LW: Then coach Greene and coach Gill, at Greylock you just have these incredible coaches.
BE: Was Nordic something you guys grew up doing as well?
JW:She did eat my graham crackers the other day. I wasn't too happy about that. This was actually my first year.
LW: I'm glad you joined. She was used to downhill skiing.
JW: She finally roped me into it. But I'm glad I wound up doing it. It definitely helped to carry through from cross-country training to Nordic, and then the transition from Nordic to track helped my season as well. There is still so much I don't know about Nordic, though, and I look up to girls like Lilly and Margo and Brandi with awe of their abilities.
BE: What's the biggest fight you two have been in?
LW: Really we don't get into a lot of fights. We both used to do Taekwondo, and we'd spar at the end of class, so I guess that counts.
JW: Who gets which side of the bed if we're in a hotel. That type of stuff.
LW: She did eat my graham crackers the other day. I wasn't too happy about that.
Interview was conducted, edited and condensed by Mike Walsh
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