County's best harriers head to Monument Mountain for Berkshire County Championships

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Cross-country runners from across Berkshire County will head to Monument Mountain this morning for the 2017 Berkshire County Championships.

Racing gets underway at 11 a.m. with the JV girls race. The JV boys will follow at 11:40, the varsity girls will go at 12:20 p.m., and the varsity boys will go at 1. Fans and spectators should arrive early to get a spot in the high school parking lot. Once the high school lot fills, cars will be directed to the elementary school, then the middle school if needed. At 2 p.m. there will be an awards ceremony.

Both the boys' and girls' individual titles are up for grabs this year. In the 2016 race at Berkshire Community College, Drury's Connor Meehan and Lenox's Emma Jourdain took home individual titles. The Mount Greylock boys and Lenox girls took home team titles in 2016.

The Spartans hosted one race during the regular season this year, with Lee, Lenox and Wahconah attending. Lenox's Ted Yee won the boys' race in 17 minutes, 58.75 seconds, while Monument's Grace Phair won on her home course, crossing in 19:20.56. The Monument course checks in at a shade under 3.1 miles.

Monument is hosting the county championships for the first time since 1998. Since 1999, BCC has hosted 13 county championships, although in the last five years the site of the meet has changed from Mount Greylock to Wahconah to the Pittsfield-hosted race at Reid Middle School, back to BCC and now in Great Barrington.

The Lenox girls and Greylock boys are looking to repeat as team champions. Lenox comes in with a five-year winning streak, while the Greylock boys have won team titles in each of the last four seasons. The Mount Greylock girls (2011) and the Pittsfield boys (2012) were the last county champions not from the two powerhouse programs in the county.

The Greylock boys look poised for another county title. Jesse Seid and Sam Culver have been the top two runners for Greylock throughout the season, but it was Jacob Fink who raced to a second-place finish in the 2016 county race. There should be plenty of competition for the top individual spots, however, as Pittsfield duo Paul Wales and Amin Purry and Taconic's Jake Paris have shown the ability to mix it up with the top Mountie runners in the top 10 this campaign. Mount Greylock duo Josh Cheung and Owen Brandriss, Lenox duo Yee and Ryan Silverstein and Monument's Jared Henry round out the returning runners that finished in the top 15 in the 2016 race.

The girls race should be a hotly contested affair, with the Mount Greylock girls emerging as serious challengers to Lenox's reign over the county and Western Massachusetts cross-country in general. Greylock's Jackie and Lilly Wells, transfers this year from Mohawk, have given the Mounties a top 5 to contend with the Millionaires. Jackie Wells had gotten the better of her Lenox counterparts until the last race of the regular season, where Maggie Sorrentino and Ellen Huth each finished ahead of Wells. With strong individual runners like Phair, her teammate Jasmin Johansdottir, Wahconah's Haley Crosier, Danielle and Gabby Orlando and Taconic's Mary Hayes, running in clusters will be key for whichever team wants to take home the individual title. In addition to the runners already listed, Lenox's Alice Najimy and Mount Greylock's Margo Smith and Hazel Scullin finished in the top 15 in last year's county championship race.

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The McCann Tech cross-country team will have to wait a week to race in its league championships. The PVIAC meet, originally scheduled for Sunday at Stanley Park in Westfield, was postponed to next Saturday due to heavy rain in the forecast. The races will start at 1 p.m. with the JV girls race, followed by the JV boys, varsity girls and varsity boys, each on the hour.


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