MIAA Division II girls cross-country: Lenox takes home state crown, Mount Greylock finishes second
GARDNER — During a practice this week, Lenox cross-country head coach Jeanne Teasedale and her team scanned the walls inside the gymnasium on East Street, and couldn't spot a girls state championship banner. That, of course, became a rallying cry.
In a race of 176 girls, results can be a difficult thing to predict. However, no matter where the MIAA chooses to hold its state meet, it seems the Lenox and Mount Greylock girls teams are going to be battling near the top.
Over the past few years, the duel between Lenox and Mount Greylock has become one of the most competitive in not just Berkshire County or Western Massachusetts — the Millionaires and Mounties are now duking it out for state titles.
Putting its top four runners inside the first 25 to cross the finish line, the Millionaires amassed 98 points at the MIAA state championships at Gardner Municipal Golf Course, beating out their local rivals by 37 points for the state crown.
"We have never won. This is a first in the history of Lenox, that we are aware of," Teasedale said. "We looked around the other day in the gym, and said we didn't see any banners, but now there's going to be one up there."
Sophomore Grace Elliot was the first Millionaire across, earning an All-State medal and placing sixth overall in 19 minutes, 47 seconds.
"Our top 4 are just super close together. We were all super excited, it all came together these past two weeks, where we all had good races," said Elliot. "That hadn't happened before this season, It was a big shock to us."
The next one was the big one.
Junior Ellen Huth went on a tear in the postseason, and nailed down the 11 spot on Saturday in 20:10.
"Getting Ellen healthy again," Teasedale said. "The night before Western Mass. — and really all week long — she looked great during workouts, and we knew she was going to be instrumental. We needed her. You sometimes take her for granted all these years. This was an up-and-down year, but it paid off here. We're fortunate to have her."
Huth won a county title in 2017, but had been struggling to fight through some injuries this season, before cranking it up to another level the past two weeks.
The Millionaires' lone upperclassman was followed tightly by Alice Culver (20th) and Ava Bachman (25th).
The Mounties were right there throughout, though.
Kate Swann was the top Berkshire County finisher, earning a podium spot in third overall in 19:28.
Swann was unable to attend last year's state meet, when her teammates brought home a runner-up trophy. So on Saturday, she was out gunning.
"It was awesome," said the Mounties sophomore. "I was really sad when I couldn't come last year, but after improving a lot I was excited to see what I could do in this bigger meet."
Swann's showing took a back seat only to Pope Francis' Emily Boutin and state champ Carmel Fitzgibbon of Weston (18:30).
The Mounties actually got six runners in before Lenox wrapped its scoring.
Greylock's Grace Malone was 28th overall, followed by Lily McDermott (46th), Jackie Wells (65th), Ainsley Abel (69th) and lone senior Miriam Bakija (84th).
"I feel like I'm equally as excited as if we would've won," said Greylock coach Hilary Greene. "Winning states two years ago, and runner-up last year and this year. We always say we want the kids to finish happy and feel like they gave their all. And I know every single kid who ran today can say that. They left it all on the course."
But the Millionaires' advantage proved too much when Audrey Touloukian took 93rd, securing the first title in Lenox history.
"We've been chasing this title for six years," Teasedale said. "Six years in the making. This year we said we weren't going to stress about it, go in, run your race. We did that at Western Mass. Winning that, this was going to be icing on the cake.
"Today, everything fell into place. Everyone ran their hearts out. This is surreal."
Both sides of the rivalry felt good about the meet entering the weekend, crediting their home in hilly and cold Berkshire County and Western Mass.
"This morning we walked the course and prepared ourselves," said Swann. "We knew that the hills would be difficult, but we could definitely handle them because of all the training we've done. They're not big compared to Northfield."
"We came in excited about hills and cold," added Greene, whose team has now placed at states each of the last three years. "We're these tough, hardy, Berkshire County athletes. We knew for both us and Lenox, our style would fare well."
The girls D-II race also featured a pair of Monument Mountain runners, with Keira O'Rourke leading the way in 98th place.
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