Passion for cross country still stirs in Dom Finelli.
And his formula for building a program — hustle, salesmanship and inspiration — still works.
The Swampscott resident and former cross country and track coach at Swampscott High reintroduced cross country at St. Mary's of Lynn last fall.
He used the same formula there as he did when building programs at other schools where he coached, including Swampscott.
St. Mary's, a grades 6-12 school of about 650 students, had been without a cross country program for 10 years.
By intense lobbying Dom got 28 kids to lace up their running shoes in 2011.
"Mainly by calling almost every incoming student, emailing them and meeting students in the cafeteria the spring before our first season and selling our program to anyone who would listen got us to that number," he said.
This year he redoubled his efforts and about doubled the number of runners.
The team has 51 members it its second season. They include Jennifer Grimes of Swampscott who transferred to St Mary's as a junior, and sophomore Cullen Coyle who ran at Swampscott middle school two years ago.
Cullen is projected as the team's 5th or 6th runner.
One of its top runners for the girls is Sarah Ryan, an 8th grader from Nahant. She leads a contingent of Nahant runners, including eighth graders Abigaill Frary and Caitlin Foley and 9th grader Casey Walton.
The coach's goal is to continue to grow the program with student-athletes who want to be part of a program that has a family-like atmosphere and who want to work each day.
His formula relies on numbers, recruiting lots of runners. Lots of kids striving to improve forges an attitude that has a cumulative positive influence on all the runners.
Another step in the Finelli formula is dreaming big.
He says his team is very young, only three seniors, and has a lot of raw talent.
"If we continue to work hard we will shock some teams this year," he said, "and, who knows, maybe this young group will win a state title in a few years."