In state cross country, Greylock girls have nerves of steel
NORTHFIELD -- It wasn't until his Mount Greylock girls cross country team earned another top-10 finish at the MIAA Division II state meet that Larry Bell came to a sobering realization Saturday.
"Last week was bad coaching," he said. "I misread my team [at the Western Mass. meet]. I tried to calm them down last week, because I thought they were too nervous."
Bell let his young Mounties run nervous Saturday at Northfield Recreation Center, and they responded with a seventh-place finish, the best of any Berkshire County squad. A week earlier at Northfield, Greylock was second in Western Mass. behind champion Lenox.
The Mount Greylock boys also led the way for Berkshire County, earning a 13th-place team finish.
Emily Kaegi was Greylock's top finisher, taking 22nd place in 20:00.29. She was followed by Kat Chenail (46th in 20:32.92), who beat her Western Mass. finish by 24 seconds. Chenail and Hoosac Valley's Kalyn Alibozek (42nd in 20:27.02) ran together.
"I was chasing her, then I'd pass her and she would chase me," Chenail said. "There are always people to run for. At Western Mass., it was me and Kalyn. There was no one we could catch, because everyone was too far away. There was no one really pushing us. You're constantly getting passed, so it makes you want to go faster."
One week after winning a sectional championship, Lenox finished 15th in the team standings. Elizabeth Jarck was her team's top finisher, taking 76th in 21:15.21.
"I set out who I wanted to go for," Jarck said. "They set the pace for me. I changed up my strategy a little bit by going up the first hill a little slower."
Monument Mountain -- led by Heather Hassett in 20:55.78 (63rd) -- was 18th as a team.
"It seems like everybody improved, which is what our goal was today: improve from last week," Monument coach Chris Unsworth said. "Heather is just so mentally tough. She has a goal every time out, and I can't think of too many times this year when she didn't get it."
Pittsfield's girls finished 18th in the Division I race. Sopho more Lauren Farry led the Generals -- in their second consecutive state championship as a team qualifier -- with a 73rd-place finish (20:46.98). Makayla Powers was the next-fastest General, taking 130th in 21:46.03. Liza Smith was next, in 21:46.33.
"I wouldn't say any of them are disappointed," PHS coach Theresa Apple said. "I came into it with a let's-have-fun attitude. No stress. ... Some girls exceeded their expectations. Others were the same as last week, and even that's an accomplishment, to run this course in the same time frame two weeks in a row."
Pittsfield coach Michael Ortega didn't want his Generals to simply be happy they made the state meet as a team.
"I said in the beginning of the week, ‘Yes, it's great that we made it here. But we're not coming down here just to have fun,' " the coach said. "We did the best we can, and I'm relatively pleased with it."
Pittsfield's boys finished in the back of the team standings, but Dan Brien's 33rd-place finish in 16:55.66 led the way for the Generals. Ortega said all his runners were faster Saturday, thanks to better competition at the state level.
"You get up in a pack there, and [Dan] even told me, ‘Everybody around me is just as good,' " Ortega said. "He's pleased with what he did."
Cody Lucido was the next Pittsfield finisher, taking 130th in 17:49.1.
Led by Will Kirby's 46th-place finish (17:32.09), and backed up by Carter Stripp's 61st-place finish (17:43.91), Greylock's boys -- Western Mass. champions a week ago -- earned 14th place overall in Division II.
"I decided to try going out harder on the uphill today," Kirby said. "I took off 13, maybe 14 seconds. I think it worked."
Lenox, in 13th place, finished ahead of fellow Berkshire County state qualifiers Grey lock and Monument Mountain (15th). Western Mass. runner-up Tucker McNinch (49th, 17:33.34) was the Millionaires' second scoring runner, behind state champ Scott Carpenter.
"We were happy," Lenox coach Jeanne Teasdale said. "They were looking to win last week, but ... I think going into this, they were more looking to improve their individual times from last week, and come back stronger in terms of picking off runners."
Monument's top finisher was Kelt Wilska, who finished 85th in 18:05.31.
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