Ciempa knows how to lead the pack
PITTSFIELD -- Mount Greylock's best cross country runners gave chase Wednesday, but at race's end, Scott Burdick knew the boy used to being at the front would win out.
At Taconic High School, that runner was Hoosac Valley's Travis Ciempa.
"Will [Kirby] and Carter [Stripp] ran a great race, but they learned a little bit today," Burdick said after Ciempa's win on the 21 2-mile course. "They've never really been front-runners before. Travis, for the last two years, has been his team's front-runner. With times like they ran today, they're going to learn
Stripp led for much of the way, but Ciempa took the lead "maybe 2 miles into it," he said, and won in 13 minutes, 45 seconds. Stripp finished second, just 2 seconds behind.
Greylock and Hoosac also took the top three spots in the girls race, with the Mounties' Emily Kaegi and Kat Chenail finishing 1-2. Hoosac's Kalyn Alibozek, a winner last week at Wahconah, took third place after making a wrong turn deep into the course.
The Mountie boys bounced back from last week's dual loss to Lenox, winning three duals Wednesday. Greylock beat BART (15-50), Taconic (18-45) and Wahconah (22-36). Hoosac beat BART (15-48), but fell to Monument (22-37). The Spartans also beat Wahconah (26-29), placing four boys in the top 10. Wahconah beat Taconic 19-39.
In girls duals, Greylock earned dual wins over BART (15-50) and Wahconah (15-48); Monument beat Hoosac (25-32) and Taconic (17-46); Taconic beat BART (15-50) and lost to Wahconah (24-33); and Hoosac beat Wahconah (25-30).
Kaegi finished in 16:38, followed by Chenail in 16:50. Alibozek was third in 17:06; Monument Mountain's Heather Hassett (17:24) and Jordan Begley (17:48) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Alibozek's mistake on the course came in a position that has fooled Kaegi before.
"We were running together and didn't really see it," said Kaegi, standing with Chenail. "It's a trail. It's really easy to get lost. I've gotten lost there before."
"We ran by and almost turned that way, but saw the arrows to go [the other] way," Chenail said.
A Greylock boys runner by the turn saw the Mountie pair stay on course, and realizing Alibozek had run off-course, went after her to get her back in the race.
From there, sheer determination to finish strong took over for Alibozek.
"At first, you just get this really big knot in your stomach," she said. "When I got back on course and I saw the people in front of me, I said ‘I need to catch up to them.' "
Hoosac Valley coach Ron Namislo -- who was grateful for the runner turning Alibozek around and getting her on course -- said the loss will serve as positive motivation in the end.
"Now the pressure's off," he said. "Now you just go out and start running with a new goal: get to Western Mass., and be ready to run well there."
When the boys runners emerged from the practice fields behind the high school, Stripp was leading the way, followed by Kirby, Wahconah's Jackson Alberti and Ciempa. From there, Ciempa took charge.
Kirby was third in 14:08; Alberti fourth, in 14:14; and Monument's Dylan Cole-Kink was fifth, in 14:24.
Monument had four boys in the top 10, with Logan Morton sixth, Mike Kotleski ninth and Kelt Wilska 10th.
"Certainly, any one of those four guys slip up a little bit, and we'd have been in trouble against Wahconah for sure," Spartans coach Ted Collins said. "I knew Wahconah was going to be tough and I knew Kelt Wilska's neck was bothering him a little bit ... but I felt like we had the horses if everybody ran to their capability."
What impressed Burdick the most were the times. Last week, Pittsfield's Dan Brien won on the same course in 14:22. Wednesday, that time would have only been the fifth-best among the boys.
"These times today were smoking," Burdick said. "I think Travis Ciempa ran a smart race. Carter and Will went out early, and if you've go out early like that, you've got to break. They didn't break Travis."
The credit for Greylock's wins, though, went to every Greylock name Burdick pointed to below the top five -- his Nos. 3-7 runners.
"What puts the trophies in the team case for Western Mass. ... [are guys like] Archer Greenhalgh, Will Nolan, Sam and Jake Kobrin, John Driver," he said.
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