Lenox, Mount Greylock win Western Mass. team cross country titles
WESTFIELD >> The venue may have changed, but the results remained the same.
The Lenox girls and the Mount Greylock boys defended their Western Massachusetts Division II cross country titles with repeat performances at Stanley Park on Saturday, with both teams registering solid showings at the new home of the Western Mass. sectionals. The team win marks the sixth year in a row that the Mounties have won a division title at the competition.
"This is big for them," Greylock coach Scott Burdick said. "The guys are pretty excited. They ran out of their minds today. We always run our best at the end."
Greylock's Tommy Kirby won the individual title in Division II with a time of 15 minutes, 53.86 seconds, while Drury's Connor Meehan (16:28.44) had his best race of the season by finishing second — beating Mount Greylock's Evan Arthur (4th, 16:39.01) for the first time this year.
The Lenox girls were paced by Emma Jourdain (18:44.13), Emily Tibbetts (18:53.99) and Maggie Sorrentino (19:02.65), who finished second through fourth, respectively.
"We are just excited for the girls, because we know they had really good races," Lenox coach Jeanne Teasdale said. "We looked at their times, and they are right there where we want them to be for next week."
In Division I, Wahconah's Gabrielle Orlando (20th, 20:58.37) was the top Berkshire County finisher for the girls, and Pittsfield's Noah Casino (31st, 17:32.08) was the top male finisher for the area.
The top three teams from each division and the top 10 individual performers not on those teams from each division now advance to the state championship meet, which will be back at Stanley Park on Nov. 21.
Boys Division II
The Greylock boys put on a show to win their sixth straight sectional title. Outside of Kirby and Arthur, the Mounties placed two more runners in the top 10 with Cameron Castonguay (17:12.19) and Sam Culver (17:12.60) in eighth and ninth, respectively, and the team's fifth placer was Jacob Fink (17:20.51) in 13th.
While the results spoke to Greylock's dominance, the Mounties weren't sure bets to win the D-II title. The Cathedral boys team was poised to make a run at the title, and the team put its five placers in the top 17. On most days, that should have been enough.
But not with the Mounties involved.
"We just have such a big team, and we have coach Burdick who knows how to prepare for races really well," Kirby said. "As [Burdick] likes to say, individuals can win races but teams win championships. And we've got the team [to win]."
Greylock finished with 30 points, Cathedral had 45, and Frontier earned the last team spot at the state meet by finishing third with 145 points. Palmer's Henry Domnarski (16:32.50) and Cathedral's Jack Mulcahy (16:56.50) rounded out the top five finishers.
Kirby dominated the race from start to finish, blowing out to an early lead before cruising to the finish line. A senior who has ran behind several Mounties for years, Kirby was thrilled to finally taste victory at Western Mass.
"It's been a goal of mine for a long time," Kirby said. "To have it be done, it's always sort of been a dream. Now, it's real."
This article has been updated to reflect that Hoosac Valley's top girls finisher was Jamie Barthe, who placed 23rd.
Meehan, the lone Blue Devil to run Saturday, also had a day to remember with his second-place finish. A track star, Meehan said he found the flat course at Stanley Park played to his strengths.
"Coming from track and everything is flat, it gave me a little sense of being on a track," Meehan said. "Berkshire County courses are really challenging, so to come down here and run this course I just felt sort of comfortable.
"I just tried to run my own race and I did that today. I was able to beat some really good runners today, and I am very proud of that."
Meehan will lead the way for individuals at the state championships. Three other Berkshire County racers earned individual bids to states in Hoosac Valley's Jared Haley (10th, 17:14.93), Lee's Sam Harding (15th, 17:28.51) and Lenox's Connor McNinch (18th, 17:36.87).
Monument Mountain's top finisher was Jared Henry (33rd), Mount Everett's Kenneth Edwards finished in 70th, and McCann Tech's Aedan Cullen finished in 86th.
Girls Division II
Teasdale made no secret of her team's motivations on Saturday — it was a warm-up for the state meet next week.
"It was just like a dress rehearsal for next week," Teasdale said. "We want them to have one more practice on this course — this is a race that was a lot different — but to also close the gap between our fourth and fifth runner. That's going to make the difference next week."
Jourdain, Tibbetts and Sorrentino stayed in close proximity to each other throughout the race, while Alice Najimy (20:17.62) finished 14th and Tate Morrison (20:24.29) finished 16th.
The Millionaires finished with 39 points compared to second-place Hampshire's 68. The third team traveling to states will be Mount Greylock, which finished with 108 points behind Margo Smith's (19:33.49) eighth-place finish on Saturday. Hampshire's Taylor Blow won the race in 18:32.91, and teammate Ally Roessling rounded out the top five finishers.
Jourdain, asked about Stanley Park's relative flatness compared to the former Western Mass site at Northfield, said that the lone hill near the finish on Saturday helper her Millionaires.
"We raced this course three weeks ago at Baystate ... and not everyone completely loved the course, but it's nice because it's flat and then has that hill at the end, and I think that was an advantage for Lenox runners today."
Jourdain said she was happy with her individual performance, as well.
"I didn't have a great Western Mass. race last year, and so it felt good to come back and have a good race this year," Jourdain said. "And I felt 10-times stronger than I did three weeks ago on this course, so I know that the training that I've been doing has really paid off."
Teasdale, also asked about the course at Stanley Park, said that her team's training on hills helped prepare them to run on the flatter course.
"Our hills, I always say it's our speed work in disguise," Teasdale said. "We run a lot of hills, and I think hills help you with your speed. You come to a course like this and it's really to your benefit sometimes to train on all those hills."
For Greylock, Bella Bote (20:54.49) finished 23rd overall, and the trio of Nike Darafshi (21:10.86), Ellie Williams (21:11.67) and Emily Lescarbeau (21:15.27) finished 26th through 28th overall, respectively.
Two other Berkshire County runners qualified for states in Monument Mountain duo Meryl Phair (20:35.34) and Grace Phair (20:37.52), who finished in 17th and 19th, respectively.
Drury's top finisher was McKensie DiGennaro in 30th. Hoosac Valley was led by Jamie Barthe (23rd), Lee's Ava Marin finished in 51st, and McCann's Hope Blake finished in 74th.
Boys Division I
In Division I, the Holyoke boys took first overall with 60 points, Amherst-Pelham finished second with 68 and Northampton was third with 74.
Northampton's Liam Sullivan took first overall in 15:53.88. Amherst's Owen Wright was second, then Holyoke trio Joel Ramos, Cameron Correia and Bryan Dec rounded out the top five.
Casino helped Pittsfield finish seventh overall, and teammates Kevin Rayner (39th) and Greg Fournier (42nd) joined Casino in the top 50 runners.
For Wahconah, Jaryd Massaro finished in 54th to lead the Warriors, and for Taconic Mohammed Jadallah finished in 56th to lead the Braves.
Girls Division I
For the girls, Northampton took the team title with 31 points, Amherst-Pelham finished second with 62, and Westfield was third with 110.
Amherst's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley blew away the competition to take first in 18:54.44. Northampton's Erica Dean was second, Agawam's Erin Dustin was third, Minnechaug's Heather Leckey was fourth and Northampton's Stephanie Jordan was fifth.
Orlando booked herself a spot at the state meet next week with her finish, as did teammate Kat Bruce, who finished in 24th. Pittsfield was led by Lucia Shuff-Heck, who finished in 46th, and Taconic's Aubrey Lazits finished in 56th.
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