WILLIAMSTOWN -- As teams prepare for the Western Massachusetts cross country championships in two weeks, a champion of Berkshire County must be crowned first.
For the boys, regular-season North Division champions Mount Greylock finished its 15-0 regular season with a county title. The Mounties won with a team score of 47, South Division champion Wahconah finished second with 71, followed by Lenox 78, Hoosac Valley 88, Monument Mountain 106, Taconic 136, Pittsfield 148 and BART 253.
On the girls side, Lenox (13-1) added to its North Division title with a county crown. The Millionaires had a team score of 54. Pittsfield finished second with of 66, ahead of South Division champion Monument (76). Greylock (86), Hoosac (138), Wahconah (170) and Taconic round out the remaining finishers.
Lenox’s Tucker McNinch and Mount Greylock’s Emily Kaegi won individual titles navigating the newly lengthened 5k course.
McNinch finished in16:43, capping off a stellar regular season for the Millionaire. Travis Ciempa (Hoosac) finished second with a time of 16:59 followed by: Carter Stripp (Greylock) 17:08, Tommy Kirby (Greylock) 17:13 and Marcus Duncan (Wahconah) 17:26.
McNinch had been dealing with a muscle pull that caused him to sit out his final league meet. But he looked healthy today battling the hills and chilly temperatures at the Mount Greylock course.
"It’s a great feeling, I’ve never had this before -- it’s fun," McNinch said. "I’ve been training hard for the last couple weeks, putting some more workouts in my schedule. Coach [Jeanne Teasdale] has a great workout plan for us."
Teasdale said she was pleased with the progress that McNinch is making during training and a deep post season run is possible.
"I think he’s right on schedule to perform well at the two post season meets. Hopefully states if all goes well," Teasdale said.
She added that she was pleased with the performance of her whole team, especially with them being unfamiliar with the addition on the course.
"This course we didn’t know what to expect because they’ve made it longer. So psychologically, mentally you’ve got to prepare for the extra little push at the end that you do, and pace yourself so you don’t burn out before the finish line," she said.
On the girls side, Kaegi finished first with a time of 19:05, followed by Lauren Farry of Pittsfield (20:23), Heather Hassett of Monument Mountain, (20:37) Hayley Bowers of Lee (20:44) and Alice Najimy of Lenox (21:00).
Running on her home course, Kaegi said she likes the addition.
"I knew it was coming, but it’s definitely a different course going through the woods. You’re not going around the field one more time so you get to break up your rhythm," Kaegi said.
While Kaegi enjoyed the new course, Farry said the addition made the course more challenging to navigate.
"It was kind like a maze because you kept going around turns, and you thought you’d be done but it kept going," Farry said.
Individual titles are nice, but Greylock coach Scott Burdick said county championships are meaningful too.
"Winning the county championship is special. That’s what it’s all about," he said.
Hoosac Valley coach Ron Namislo said that coaches use this meet as the final gage of where their team is heading into Western Mass. The top three teams at the Western Mass. tournament from Division I and II advance to state in addition the top 10 individual finishers.
"Everything we’re doing now is not going to change a lot when we get to Western Mass. position wise," he said. "Where we finish today is where we’re going to finish in two weeks. We just hope we can beat a guy here or there. ...We’re fighting to get the third spot for states."
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