2018-19 The Berkshire Eagle All Stars: Cross-country
Boys Most Valuable Runner
Jesse Seid, Mount Greylock, Senior
A repeat winner for The Berkshire Eagle's cross-country MVP, Jesse Seid again pounded the pavement, grass and wooded trails of Berkshire County better than anyone else. The Mount Greylock senior faced some significant challengers early in the season, from around the league and within the Mounties' team, but by year's end, there was nobody in the area touching him.
Seid cruised to a 26-second victory at Berkshire Individuals, on brutal, wet and cold day at Lenox in October. He was named league MVP by the coaches after that performance, and went hot into the postseason.
At the Western Massachusetts championships, Seid bolted to a sub-17-minute, second-place finish at Stanley Park. In doing so, he helped the Mounties to their ninth straight Division II sectional crown. A week later, he returned to Westfield to earn an All-State nod with an 11th-place finish at the D-II state meet, helping Greylock to a podium spot in third place. Seid was the lone Berkshire County medalist, male or female, on the day. He traversed the snow-packed course in 17 minutes, 20.98 seconds, and was the top Western Mass. runner in the field.
Boys Coach of the Year
Scott Burdick, Mount Greylock
In building a championship-caliber cross-country team, no one in Western Massachusetts has been as successful as Mount Greylock's Scott Burdick. But, what earned the longtime Mounties head coach a nod as The Eagle's All-Star coach of the year is the sustained excellence.
This school year saw Burdick's boys earn a ninth consecutive Western Massachusetts championship, and the gap between the Mounties and the rest of the area appeared to only be widening. Greylock bested second-place Hampshire by 53 points, despite the Red Raiders having the individual champion. The Mounties put four runners in the top 10, featuring three seniors and a deep group of underclassman. MVP Jesse Seid was joined by classmates Josh Cheung and Jacob Fink, along with youngster Oliver Swabey. Senior Theo Sandstrom wasn't far behind in 22nd. The veteran-laden crew had bigger fish to fry, and did so a week later, peaking once again at the right time under Burdick's tutelage. Seid was a medalist, and Cheung and Fink were in the top 50 as Greylock earned its best-ever state finish with Burdick, a No. 3 spot in the D-II field. After the meet, Seid and Cheung couldn't credit their coach enough.
"What went into this is just Coach Burdick having us put in the work. Him being probably the best coach in the state," said Seid.
Cheung added, "He has the right advice for every race, and he adds so much passion into this."
Girls Most Valuable Runner
Grace Phair, Monument Mountain, Senior
Not long before the 2019 cross-country season was to get underway, the girls at Monument Mountain were struck by news that longtime coach Chris Unsworth had passed away after a battle with cancer. The news hit home for the whole team, but perhaps most significantly for senior Grace Phair. One of Berkshire County's elite runners, Phair was in constant contact with Unsworth preparing for her senior campaign. His death was a blow, but it didn't deter her. Phair's remarkable consistency was only bolstered, as she put away back-to-back early-season victories, flashing a `U' at the finish line.
Every race, Phair was right there with the lead pack, pushing the rest of the Berkshires. Her season ended the way it always has, with a fourth straight trip to the MIAA state meet. As a freshman, she ran states at Stanley Park to a finish in 119th place. Phair was in the mid-40s at the championship meets in 2016 and 2017 at Gardner and Wrentham. Back at Stanley Park in Westfield for her senior finale, Phair tackled the snowy course in 20 minutes, 50.1 seconds for 25th place.
A week earlier, Phair placed eighth at the Western Mass. championships. At the Berkshire County Individuals meet — before presenting a plaque to Unsworth's family — she was fourth overall.
Girls Coach of the Year
Matt Pegorari, Wahconah
Competing as a small Division I team in a league with two state-wide D-II powers forces the Wahconah cross-country program to operate at peak efficiency. That's just what the Warriors have been doing the past few seasons under head coach Matt Pegorari.
Two seasons ago, the Warriors placed third at the D-I Western Mass. meet, qualifying the entire team for states. In 2017, the team was fifth, and then this fall Wahconah elevated again into fourth overall. While the Warriors narrowly missed out sending a full complement to states, Pegorari helped to secure four individual bids for Haley Crosier, Gabby Orlando, Danni Orlando and Alexis Henderson. All four placed in the top 25 at Stanley Park and made the All-Berkshire team. That's a mixture of two seniors, a sophomore and a freshman
Pegorari's crew placed third at the Berkshire County championships, and has consistently threatened in the ultra-competitive Berkshire North since he started putting his imprint on the program four years ago. For some time now, the Warriors have been racing their best when it matters most.
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