Mount Greylock girls deny Lenox four-peat, win Western Mass. D-II cross-country title
NORTHFIELD — Mount Greylock freshman Jackie Wells didn't have to look too far for motivation Saturday. From the moment she woke up a couple doors down from older sister Lilly, through the time she caught one last glimpse over her shoulder at approaching former teammate Meghan Davis of Mohawk before finishing first in the Western Massachusetts Division II Cross-Country race, Wells had all the drive she needed to take home a championship.
The Berkshire County newcomer, who transferred with her sister to Greylock from Mohawk this year, took it to a feared course at Northfield Recreation Center on a day where temperatures struggled to break 32 degrees, and managed to come out on top of the Division II field. She out-paced Davis by 13 seconds, submitting a time of 19 minutes, 31.20 seconds.
"She's always been my motivation," said Jackie of her senior sister. "We went to elementary school with [Davis], she's great. I just knew I had to keep steadily increasing on the downhills. I think I passed Ellen [Huth] somewhere in the middle mile and then Meghan towards the end of the last downhill."
"We're big hikers and she's always been strong on the hills, so I told her to just attack those and ride it out," added Lilly, who also shouted out to the duo's former coach at Mohawk, Joe Chadwick.
Wells' win in the day's opening competition was just the first in a long day of victories for the Mounties. Before the Greylock boys squad could capture section title No. 8 in a row, the Lady Mounties had a crown of their own to chase. The Lenox girls program had eyes on a four-peat, but had been fending off a charging Greylock all season long. Fully healthy and clicking on all cylinders, quads, hamstrings and glutes, Saturday proved to be the Mounties day.
By yet another slim score of 42-45, Greylock denied the Millionaires and brought the Division II title back north to Williamstown.
"That's one of the bigger margins of our battles this season. It was disappointing to lose Berkshire County by a couple, but we'll remember the next two more than that one. We're going to enjoy this one," said Greylock Coach Larry Bell. "We're both good because we have each other. Nobody gets good without a rival. The Greylock domination earlier is what Lenox fought to become, and they passed us. And now we caught them. I won't say we've passed them, but we're right there."
Wells' win set the stage, but it was a deep field of red and white clad runners who proved the difference. Lenox filled in two spots after Wells with its own freshman standout Ellen Huth nailing down a No. 3 overall spot in 20:09.11 and junior Maggie Sorrentino squeezing into the top-five in 20:16.42. The Mounties matched it, though, with both Josie Smith and Lilly Wells hot on Sorrentino's heels in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Lenox did managed to get four girls in to continue mirroring their County rival, placing Tate Morrison and Marion Huth at the edge of the top-10, but Greylock's depth crashed the party from there. Underclassmen Hazel Scullin (No. 13) and Kate Swann (No. 15) both crossed before Lenox's fifth, Alice Najimy (No. 16), delivering the MIAA trophy to a new home for the first time since 2013.
"Greylock has a little bit more depth than we do, so all season long it was wondering when it was going to happen," said Lenox coach Jeanne Teasedale. "We knew coming in today they would be a strong team and have everybody in the best possible shape. I'm happy for them, it takes some pressure off us heading into states. They're girls ran really well, and I'm proud of our girls as well.
"It tells me that at states it could be a Western Mass. team that takes the crown. If it's us or Greylock, that's a good thing, especially for two very small schools."
The win was a full circle moment for the Greylock program, which was once dominant, before Teasedale's Lenox organization became battle-tested enough to take over and reign supreme in Western Mass. Now, the rivalry has flipped, at least for a one-week period.
"Before the start, I told the girls that this was the first time we had our top-seven fully healthy at the same time in over a month," said Bell. "Our kids are young and they got better as the season went on. I knew they were good, but they had to go out and prove it. They were scared, they ran on pure adrenaline. They didn't hear a thing I said before this so I had no idea what to expect, but I learned a lot about them today. Apparently, they like running on adrenaline."
Greylock and Lenox will compete one more time on the cross-country course, at the state meet next weekend in Wrentham. They won't be alone there, either, as the always dangerous Grace Phair qualified as an individual out of Monument Mountain after placing No. 8 overall in 20:32.01 Saturday. Fellow Spartan Jasmin Johannsdottir finished on the verge of qualifying in 28th and teammate Hannah Flynn was 31st.
"Berkshire has a bunch of really strong runners, I'm sad I'm not going to be here to see Jackie and Ellen and Josie and Kate battle it out," said Lilly Wells. "The new team has been amazing and made us feel super welcome. They made us feel immediately like part of the team. I have a lot of admiration for the other runners, Margo Smith is an astounding runner and throughout the county its a good camaraderie."
Also competing in the D-II field was a Lee squad led by Amber MacDowell in 42nd, Mount Everett led by Carly Duval in 50th and Hoosac Valley led by Jamie Barthe in 62nd.
Making their way to Wrentham will also be four county girls in the Division I field. After Greylock and Lenox duked it out, racers from Wahconah, Taconic and Pittsfield High trampled the Northfield course in race No. 2 of the afternoon. While the Braves saw senior Mary Hayes extend her high school career with a strong second half to finish 15th in 21:37.33, the Warriors will need accommodations for three.
Veteran harriers Gabrielle and Danielle Orlando have taken on leadership roles for Wahconah's program as juniors this season, and they've needed to in order to mentor freshman Haley Crosier, who was the top Berkshire County runner in Division I. Crosier finished in 21:00.41 and was flirting with the top pack throughout the 5k course. She finished sixth overall, while her two captains forced the issue from behind.
"We've been working up to this all year, and we love having [Crosier] on the team with us. She's definitely stepped up and been a good addition and really pushed us as well," said Gabi. "She's super fast in the flats, and we're faster in the downhills, so we push each other really well."
Gabi finished 13th in 21:32.98 and Dani 17th in 21:40.50, allowing both to continue on grinding for one more week.
"We'd heard a lot of bad things about [Northfield] from people in the past, but it actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting," said Dani. "It's been a good season, and this is a great way to end it."
The MIAA state cross-country meet is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Wrentham Developmental Center.
Team scores — 1. Mount Greylock 42; 2. Lenox 45; 3. Hampshire 117; 4. Greenfield 140; 5. Monument Mountain 146; 6. Mohawk Trail 176; 7. Southwick-Tolland 180; 8. Monson 190; 9. Pope Francis 222; 10. Frontier 263; 11. Granby 295; 12. Hoosac Valley 326; 13. Lee 345; 14. Palmer 429; 15. Gateway 449; 16. Hampden Charter 495; 17. Putnam Vocational 510; 18. Sabis 513.
Top 20 — 1. Jackie Wells (MG) 19:31.20; 2. Meghan Davis (MT) 19:44.58; 3. Ellen Huth (LEN) 20:09.11; 4. Amy O'Sullivan (GREEN) 20:14.97; 5. Maggie Sorrentino (LEN) 20:16.42; 6. Josie Smith (MG) 20:22.20; 7. Lilly Wells (MG) 20:31.48; 8. Grace Phair (MM) 20:32.01; 9. Jamie Day (GREEN) 20:52.86; 10. Tate Morrison (LEN) 20:53.54; 11. Marion Huth (LEN) 20:58.66; 12. Emily Boutin (PF) 21:05.29; 13. Hazel Scullin (MG) 21:08.30; 14. Rebecca Drohen (ST) 21:08.94; 15. Kate Swann (MG) 21:09.73; 16. Alice Najimy (LEN) 21:16.34; 17. Lovisa Swedenborg (H) 21:25.47; 18. Lily Hakkarainen (H) 21:44.29; 19. Mackenzie Sheehy (MG) 21:51.71; 20. Briana Serrao (PF) 21:56.62.
Team Scores — 1. Amherst-Pelham 44; 2. Northampton 57; 3. Agawam 83; 4. Minnechaug 145; 5. Wahconah 159; 6. Longmeadow 192; 7. Pittsfield 209; 8. South Hadley 230; 9. Westfield 254; 10. Ludlow 267; 11. Taconic 273; 12. Chicopee Comp 311; 13. East Longmeadow 313; 14. Springfield Central 327; 15. Belchertown 385; 16. West Springfield 398.
Top 20 — 1. Sophia Jacobs-Towns (AP) 19:26.15; 2. Mary Yount (N) 20:03.78; 3. Julia Hopley (AP) 20:16.20; 4. Rosie Ingmann (N) 20:47.85; 5. Sarah Ross (A) 21:00.08; 6. Haley Crosier (WAHC) 21:00.41; 7. Jocelyn Rondeau (SH) 21:01.70; 8. Augusta Fricke (AP) 21:12.97; 9. Zada Forde (AP) 21:13.51; 10. Sophie Gronbeck (W) 21:22.34; 11. Kim Beaver (A) 21:33.45; 12. Emma Yount (N) 21:29.88; 13. Gabrielle Orlando (WAHC) 21:32.98; 14. Katie Dustin (A) 21:35.44; 15. Mary Hayes (T) 21:37.33; 16. Grace Pettengill (M) 21:39.13; 17. Danielle Orlando (WAHC) 21:40.50; 18. Cheyenne Cantela (CC) 21:44.37; 19. Saraphina Forman (N) 21:45.73; 20. Maggie Reade (N) 21:48.74.
Mike Walsh can be reached at email@example.com, on Twitter at @CLNS_Walsh or 413-496-6240.
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