WESTON — The day started pretty well for the Mount Greylock Nordic ski team, as Grace Smith won the girls' individual MIAA state championship. The Mounties, however, weren't done — not by a long shot.
Smith's teammates went on to claim their first state team title since 2012, beating Concord-Carlisle and defending champion Wellesley in the meet at the Weston Ski Track. The Mounties finished with 34 points to 48 for Concord-Carlisle and 66 for Wellesley.
"It feels great" to win a state title," said the Greylock senior. "I think all the girls out there put in their best effort and worked so hard. To have this culmination where everyone races their hardest, felt really good."
It was the first individual girls' champion for Greylock since Anna Filipczak won in 2005.
Those two state titles might have been enough for most schools, but the skiers from Williamstown weren't nearly done. The Mounties got top-four finishes from Ian Culnane and Matt Wiseman and placed their other two scoring racers in the top 20 to claim their sixth consecutive state title. Greylock finished with 39 points, followed by Berkshire County League rival Amherst with 52. Concord-Carlisle was third with 80 points and Lenox took fourth at 97.
"We were all just trying to ski as closely together as we can and pack as many people up as high as we can," said Culnane. "We looked at each other's splits and just tried to pass the next person. We skied really well as a team."
That game plan worked for both the Greylock boys and the girls. And for the Greylock girls, the win brought out the smiles that wouldn't go away. The smiles were a combination of being happy and being relieved.
"We were all really nervous, and I think I was more nervous than I have ever been before," said Greylock coach Hilary Greene. "I think it's because this group is so tight and we have a bunch of seniors. It was their outgoing show.
"You could just feel that everyone wanted to do it for each other."
It all started with Smith. The Greylock senior was 23rd in 2013, fifth in 2014 and fourth last year. This year, she was second behind Brookline Gabby Vandendries as the racers came around to start the second of their two 3.5-kilometer laps in the 7K freestyle race.
"Definitely," said Smith, in response to a question about the last two years. "Definitely all morning I was thinking about the last two years. I went out with the first pack of girls and ended up dying on Shaw Road at Notchview. Today, I was really motivated to just stick with them."
Smith was second with Chantal Raguin third. But by the middle of the second lap, Smith had caught and passed Vandendries while Raguin also passed her.
That's how things finished up. Smith finished in 19 minutes, 2.9 seconds, almost three seconds faster than Raguin of Acton-Boxborough (19:05.5). Vandendries, last year's runner-up was third, 12 seconds behind Smith.
But that's where the fun started. Smith's sister Margo and Concord-Carlisle's Rebecca Feist came across the line in identical times of 20:31.3, and they were followed by Greylock's Sophie Geary (20:35.1), who was ninth. When Brandi Gill came in 17th, the Mounties had more than enough points to ensure their first title in four years.
When the boys took to the snow some 90 minutes after the girls' race, the five-time defending champion Mounties had a very good idea about who their main competition would be.
"We were confident, but we were also very cautious," said Greylock boys coach Hiram Greene. "We knew that Amherst had a pretty good team. We were more concerned with Amherst than with any other team here."
Last year, the Mounties led Acton-Boxborough and Amherst at the end of the day.
This year, nine different teams put racers into the top 10. Only one — Greylock — had more than one. Newton South's Will Rhatigan finished first overall in 16:06.8, followed by Newton North's Jacob Jampel.
Culnane was in the first wave with Rhatigan, and the Greylock racer finished in 16:43.6. Matt Wiseman, in the second wave, was fourth overall at 17:04.
Hiram Greene said the most pleasant surprise for the Mounties, and what he said won them the state title was the 14th-place finish of junior Evan Arthur. Arthur was followed by Ric Donati's 20th-place finish.
"I wanted to get a top 20" finish, said Arthur. "I knew I was going to do well because it was a longer race and I'm a cross country runner.
"The race was really good. It was really windy, which made it harder. But it was nice. It was fast. It was really fast."
The rival Hurricanes, meanwhile, were led by Willy Wright's 10th place finish. Amherst also had skiers finish 12th, 16th and 18th. That was too much of a gap to catch the Mounties.
Miles Marshall (15th), Linden Neideck (24th) and Chas Novitsky (28th) earned top-30 finishes to help the Millionaires finish fourth.
Mount Greylock 39, Amherst 52, Concord-Carlisle 80, Lenox 97, Acton-Boxborough 101, Lincoln Sudbury 132, Dover-Sherborn 132, Westford Academy 157, Wahconah 174, Wellesley 192, Newton North 224, Wayland 236, Newton South 255, Hoosac Valley 290, Mohawk Trail 332, Winchester 348, Taconic 374, Nashoba 428.
1. Will Rhatigan, Newton South, 16:08.6; 2. Jacob Jampel, Newton North, 16:41.2; 3. Ian Culnane, Greylock, 16:43.6; 4. Matt Wiseman, Greylock, 17:04.3; 5. Tyler Lee, Concord-Carlisle, 17:15.8; 6. Mark Borghesani, Acton-Boxborough 17:33.3; 7. Jason Canaday, Wellesley, 17:42.0; 8. Peter Phelan, Dover-Sherborn, 17:48.0; 9. Jordan Fried, Brookline, 17:48.4; 10. Willy Wright, Amherst, 17:58.3.
Top 30 Berkshire finishers
13. Sean Harvey, Wahconah, 18:13.0; 14. Evan Arthur, Greylock, 18:16.2; 15. Miles Marshall, Lenox, 18:25.0; 17. Jared Haley, Hoosac Valley, 18:31.6; 20. Ric Donati, Greylock, 18:52.3; 22. Jakin Miller, Greylock, 18:56.9; 24. Linden Neideck, Lenox, 10:07.5; 26. Tommy Kirby, Greylock, 19:12; 28. Chas Novitsky, Lenox, 19:25; 29. Cameron Castonguay, Greylock, 19:26.6.
Mount Greylock 34, Concord-Carlisle 48, Wellesley 66, Acton-Boxborough 90, Lincoln-Sudbury 116, Mohawk Trail 139, Lenox 158, Wayland 171, Brookline 173, Westford Academy 180, Wahconah 204, Amherst 217, Newton North 257, Hoosac Valley 258, Winchester 262, Dover-Sherborn 324, Nashoba 331, Taconic 427.
1. Grace Smith, Greylock, 19:02.9; 2. Chantal Raguin, Acton-Boxborough, 19:05.5; 3. Gabby Vandendries, Brookline, 19:14.1; 4. Isabel Cole, Brookline, 19:53.7; 5. Claire Telfer, Lincoln-Sudbury, 20:25.4; 6. Emily Nottonson, Acton-Boxborough, 20:25.4; 7. (tie) Margo Smith, Greylock and Rebecca Feist, Concord-Carlisle,20:31.3; 9. Sophie Gerry, Greylock, 20:35.1; 10. Meredith Roberts, Concord-Carlisle 20:35.8.
Top 30 Berkshire finishers
17. Brandi Gill, Greylock, 21:07.1; 18. Alice Huth, Lenox, 21:07.5; 22. Catherine Cavalli, Greylock, 21:10.7; 24. Emma Jourdain, Lenox, 21:16.8; 27. Greta Savitsky, Greylock, 21:29.8; 29. Emma Polumbo, Greylock, 22:07.7.