PITTSFIELD -- Hills, hills and more hills. Sounds like a postseason race on Northfield Recreation Center's cross country course. Instead, it was just a regular-season race at Berkshire Community College, but it was hardly another regular-season race.
The Monument Mountain girls' team had a lot riding on a dual with Taconic, and the Hoosac Valley boys' team wanted to make a statement.
The Spartans took care of business with five runners in the top nine for a 19-44 win. Monument remained the only unbeaten team in the county and improved to 10-0 with five duals remaining.
"Really exciting. It's great to just be at the top," said Monument's Allyson Berger, who finished third. "We got to keep up the good work, keep going strong" to finish undefeated. "I think we got a pretty good chance."
Four of the five duals are against South Division teams, which the Spartans have already handled with relative ease. Pittsfield, the remaining North Division foe, is the last real test left for Monument. The Generals are 8-3 after Wednesday's race at Lenox, which means they can still catch the Spartans in the standings. The head-to-head matchup could determine a tie at the end of the season. Monument has already beaten Lenox, but the Millionaires sit at 11-2 through Wednesday's races.
"We have to make sure it stays 10-0 every day at practice. It would mean the world" to sweep the North, said Monument's Heather Hassett who won the 3.05-mile girls' race in 19 minutes, 45 seconds. "It would be awesome.
"It's going to take working hard every day, staying healthy, staying a team and everything we're doing right now."
"Four years ago, we struggled to get five runners to qualify for a race," said Spartan coach Chris Unsworth, who didn't want to speculate on what could happen in the final two meets. "Then with some of the kids that have come along, the program's just built up and built up, and the culture definitely changed."
The Hoosac girls continue to run well, especially the top three. Sydnee Gallup, Hannah Folino and Cassidy McMahon all finished in the top eight to fuel a 15-50 win over a Drury team that had only four runners.
The Hurricanes' focus wasn't on beating the Blue Devils.
"The girls basically were just running hard and using it as a workout, but not letting too many people get by," Hurricane coach Ron Namislo said.
It seems it was good to get back on a challenging course with Northfield lurking in the not-so-distant future.
"It was definitely more challenging than I thought," Folino said. "The past few races that we've had, there wasn't as many hills, so it was easy to push and not get too tired. But this one, you definitely got tired going up the hills."
On the boys' side, the Hurricanes came in wanting to sweep the top three spots, and they did. Travis Ciempa waited for Mike Kotleski to burn through the energy he used to take an early lead before taking over. Jared Haley and Trevor Ciempa followed suit, and the Hoosac trio dominated the second lap en route to their 1-2-3 finish.
With Taconic and Monument in the meet, Hoosac knew it wouldn't be an easy task.
"Our intention was 1-2-3 because Taconic's tough," Namislo said. "And then, honestly, for that to happen, it was a surprise. [Matt] Rabasco's a good runner."
The strong performance -- which included Chris Cardimino's 10th-place result that Namislo made sure to highlight -- gave Hoosac a 23-33 win over Taconic and a 15-50 win over Drury -- whose lone runner, Nick Murach, finished 62nd in 26:06. The real benefit came in the form of getting practice on a course that can prepare runners for what lies ahead in the near future.
"You got to run your own race. When you go too fast, you're going to burn out," Haley said. "So it's just making sure you get up the hills quick, but not too fast where you burn yourself out. It's definitely a key part."
LENOX -- It was a pretty good day for Lenox's Tucker McNinch and the Millionaire girls in cross country.
McNinch handed the 3.1-mile course in 17 minutes, 1 second and beat Mount Greylock's Carter Stripp by 28 seconds.
McNinch's sister Kate finished second to Pittsfield's Lauren Farry, but Lenox placed four runners in the top 10 to three for Pittsfield and the Lenox girls edged Pittsfield by one point and won twice on Wednesday.
The Lenox girls beat the Generals 28-29 and defeated Wahconah 15-50. Mount Greylock beat Wahconah 18-39 and BART 15-49. In other girls races, PHS beat Greylock 22-34 and Greylock downed Lee 20-43.
Farry scored a victory in 20:42, a comfortable 32 seconds ahead of McNinch (21:26).
The Generals did have Makayla (21:38) and Mackenzi Powers (22:05) finished third and sixth, respectively. But Lenox had Alice Najimy (21:42) finish fourth, Emily Tibbetts (22:10) eighth and Isabelle Conlon (22:21) 10th to help provide the one-point margin of victory.
Greylock's Emily Kaegi, Emma Polumbo and Grace Smith did not compete. Mounties head coach Larry Bell said Wednesday was the first of three meets in eight days for his team, and he said it was best to give them a day off.
Tucker McNinch and the Lenox boys beat Pittsfield 19-26 but lost to Wahconah 25-29. Wahconah also beat BART 15-49. In other results, Mount Greylock defeated Pittsfield 16-47, Greylock beat BART 15-50, Lee beat BART 26-29, Wahconah downed Lee 15-50 and Pittsfield defeated Lee 15-50.
While McNinch came across the line first, four of the next six finishers came from Mount Greylock. Stripp (17:29) was second, Tommy Kirby (17:35) was third, Will Nolan (17:41) took fifth and Sam Kobrin (17:49) was seventh.
Wahconah had three top-10 finishers: Eric Klem (17:36) was fourth, Marcus Duncan (17:47) was sixth and Jackson Alberti (17:54) was ninth. Joining McNinch in the top 10 was teammate Ben Herrick (17:56), who was 10th.