Scott Carpenter knows what's next for him, and he knows what is next for the Lenox High School cross country team he leaves behind, too.
"I think Tucker [McNinch] and Ben [Herrick], as well as Sam Darbey and the whole team, is going to look great next year," Carpenter, the All-Eagle boys MVP, said. "They'll be ready for whatever challenges they will have. I don't know that they'll take it easy in regular-season races, but they'll definitely be looking forward to the postseason."
So was Carpenter this fall, although he had the luxury of taking it easy in many races -- while still winning everything he entered in Massachusetts.
The Millionaire was unbeaten in the state as a senior, rolling to county, sectional and state championships along the way. He'll take that momentum into both the spring track and field season and his freshman year at Georgetown University in the fall of 2013. Carpenter said he's made a verbal commitment to run for the Hoyas, and expects to sign a letter of intent later this winter.
"It was a bit hectic," Carpenter said of the end of the season and his college visits. "I was looking forward to it, and it was a lot of fun. But it was a little crazy."
Opposing coaches will no doubt be happy to see Carpenter run at the next level in 2013. Not only do they admire his talent, but they also look forward to a race against Lenox runners when the conclusion is not of the foregone variety.
"He's effortless. He was effortless all year," Pittsfield coach Michael Ortega said. "You're running against somebody like that, with the years of experience he's had, and the drive and determination, it's a no-brainer, really."
The cross country season, though, wasn't perfect. There was one noticeable bump at the end -- about 2 miles into late November's Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championship race in the Bronx. Carpenter tripped and fell on a hilly part of the Van Cortlandt Park course, giving him more bumps and bruises than he'd likely encountered over every Berkshire County race in his career.
Lenox coach Jeanne Teasdale knows the fall still eats at Carpenter, but believes it's a learning experience, and that he has moved on from it.
"He can put it in perspective now," she said. " 'Oh well. Next.' I think he's looking forward to track in the spring, and getting ready for college."
Carpenter plans to run again for the Millionaires this spring. Last year was his first year of track and field, and he finished eighth in the 2-mile run in the All-States meet.
Four of the runners who finished ahead of him have graduated. Now his goal is to add a championship in that event to the one he took this fall in the Division II state cross country meet at Northfield Recreation Center.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't gunning for it," Carpenter said.
Carpenter took two weeks off after the Foot Locker race to recover -- both from that race and the season in general. He's back in mileage training, and is thinking about finding a few indoor races in February before winter turns to spring.
Teasdale, also the track and field coach at Lenox, expects her best distance runner to be in the hunt for another championship.
"It's basically the same competition he had in cross country. He knows who his competition is now," she said. "I feel confident that he'll meet his goals there."