Mount Greylock boys cross-country wins 8th straight Western Mass. title, Lenox places third; four individuals qualify for states
NORTHFIELD — All fall long the mountainous course at Northfield Recreation Center has served as an ominous boogey man waiting for Western Massachusetts cross-country teams to try their hand at the championship ascent.
In reality, Northfield was perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of an eight-peat for the Mount Greylock boys. In the end, the Mounties stared it down, didn't blink and firmly put turf in their rear-view en route to yet another Western Mass. Division II championship.
For the eighth consecutive year, Greylock got enough runners in early to leave the rest of their section fighting for runner-up honors. Led by an individual title for junior Jesse Seid in 17 minutes and 6.97 seconds, the Mounties rolled by No. 2 Frontier 38-63 to take home another trophy and set themselves up in good position next weekend at the MIAA state meet in Wrentham.
Greylock spent the season plowing through Berkshire County competition and preparing itself for the Northfield test. The Mounties were able to ace it due to a tremendous amount of hill work throughout the season.
"Every couple weeks we do a run up a really big hill, so we knew what it was coming in and we were prepared," said Seid. "Right at the end of the up hill I decided to make my move and went for it. I tried to pop the top: right as soon as you can see the top of the hill you go for it."
Behind their junior star, the Mounties filled it up with four runners in the top-eight. Senior Sam Culver, a veteran of now four Western Mass. titles, was pushing Culver and runner-up Carsten Carey of Frontier throughout the race and wound up third overall in 17:29.50. Then, it was Josh Cheung and Jacob Fink in seventh and eighth, respectively, both tucking in times under 18 minutes.
"Me and Jesse were leading at the top of the big hill, then from there I gained ground on the downhills, but lost some on the uphills," said Culver. "It feels really nice to win the Western Mass. championship. It's the title we have the best shot at, so to consistently win it, it means a lot."
Northfield and the rest of Western Mass. was finished off by Greylock junior Theo Sandstrom in 20th.
"I really liked the course. We've been training all season for this. We were really prepared," said Cheung. "We've been tapering, but keeping up the intensity up because we knew it wouldn't be an easy race today. But we were confident in our ability and went in with high hopes. It all worked out. "
At the state meet in 2016, Greylock finished 10th overall, and will be looking to build upon that at a new course at the Wrentham Developmental Center on Saturday, Nov. 18. They won't be alone in attendance, either. The Lenox boys raced to a third-place finish as a team with 117 points, edging Monson by five to secure the final automatic qualifier.
The Millionaires were led by freshman Ted Yee who shot himself into contention with a fifth place finish in 17:40.28. Senior Ryan Silverstein landed 10th in 18:06.65, while Colin Young (30th), Noah Hochfelder (37th) and Renzo Vargas (41st) rounded out the Lenox scoring. Along with the entire Greylock and Lenox rosters, Monument Mountain freshman Peter LaRochelle qualified for states as an individual, placing 15th in 18:22.84.
"We're very excited for states, there are some teams we know will be in the Division II field, and we beat one of the top competitors last year there, and I think we have a decently good shot this year," said Culver.
In the day's finale, racers from Pittsfield, Taconic and Wahconah competed against the cream of the Division I crop, as well as that treacherous Northfield course, now with hundreds of runners having already chewed things up. With strong strategy and game planning, though, even the D-I harriers managed to fight the hilly course on an even playing field. Three more county stars will travel to Wrentham as part of this field, including the breakout PHS pairing of Paul Wales and Amin Purry.
"Oh yeah, we were here freshman year and back then it was scary just walking it with the hills," said Wales. "The goal was to stay in the top-15 through the up hill and really open it up on the downhills. And that worked really well for the both of us. It's exciting, qualifying is a dream come true."
Wales led the Berkshires contingent with an eighth place run in 17:10.78, less than a minute off overall winner Jack Yanko of Amherst. Purry, who in his first year of cross-country provided Wales a competitive training partner and took home some county medals as well, landed 10th in 17:20.21.
Taconic will also keep its eyes trained on the cross-country scoreboard one more week as well, with sophomore sensation Jake Paris fighting through the elements to finish 15th with a time of 17:26.67.
"To be honest, we ran this course on Monday, so we knew it was big and challenging," said Paris. "I came in just hoping to maintain on those hills and hopefully push it on the downs. I didn't really move up, but it felt really good to maintain, stay there and make states."
Team Scores — 1. Mount Greylock 38; 2. Frontier 63; 3. Lenox 117; 4. Monson 122; 5. Monument Mountain 173; 6. Pope Francis 173; 7. Hampshire 178; 8. Palmer 259; 9. Hopkins Academy 294; 10. Greenfield 300; 11. Granby 317; 12. Lee 332; 13. Mount Everett 373; 14. Southwick-Tolland 383; 15. Sabis 387; 16. Gateway 390; 17. Mohawk 398; 18. Westfield Tech 496; 19. Pioneer Valley 518.
Top 20 — 1. Jesse Seid (MG) 17:06.97; 2. Carsten Carey (F) 17:20.88; 3. Sam Culver (MG) 17:29.50; 4. Alex Sharp (F) 17:37.22; 5. Ted Yee (LEN) 17:40.28; 6. Chris Vayda (H) 17:49.90; 7. Josh Cheung (MG) 17:54.36; 8. Jacob Fink (MG) 17:59.17; 9. Sohan Tyner (FC) 18:03.43; 10. Ryan Silverstein (LEN) 18:06.65; 11. Dennis Simmons (MT) 18:09.68; 12. Ben Litskoski (F) 18:12.90; 13. Cotton Hewes (P) 18:16.86; 14. Bryce Ordonez (PF) 18:20.11; 15. Peter LaRochelle (MM) 18:22.84; 16. Daniel Markey (PF) 18:29.81; 17. Daniel Fiester (M) 18:30.52; 18. William Carroll (ST) 18:32.36; 19. Jack Mitchell (M) 18:34.45; 20. Theo Sandstrom (MG) 18:34.70.
Team Scores — 1. Northampton 44; 2. Holyoke 78; 3. West Springfield 111; 4. Amherst-Pelham 112; 5. South Hadley 164; 6. Pittsfield 164; 7. Taconic 195; 8. Belchertown 221; 9. Minnechaug 233; 10. Chicopee Comp 247; 11. Westfield 263; 12. Longmeadow 402; 13. Wahconah 402; 14. Springfield Central 402; 15. Ludlow 430; 16. Agawam 472; 17. East Longmeadow 476; 18. Chicopee 518.
Top 20 — 1. Jack Yanko (AP) 16:21.77; 2. Gabriel Medina (WS) 16:26.22; 3. Ben Gordon (N) 16:41.95; 4. Izaien Lugo (H) 16:44.59; 5. Nick Peterson (N) 16:52.40; 6. Jack Merck (WS) 16:55.78; 7. Philip Hempstead (N) 16:56.96; 8. Paul Wales (P) 17:10.78; 9. Nate Merck (WS) 17:14.82; 10. Amin Purry (P) 17:20.21; 11. Aiden Foucault (AP) 17:21.68; 12. Johan Cruz (H) 17:23.52; 13. Bobby Innes-Gold (N) 17:24.11; 14. Aidan Shea (AP) 17:25.46; 15. Jake Paris (T) 17:26.67; 16. Johnathan Dean (N) 17:29.59; 17. Jason Beaver (A) 17:31.41; 18. Justin Kennedy (H) 17:33.43; 19. Joseph Werenski (SH) 17:36.06; 20. Evan Dunigan (B) 17:47.59.
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @CLNS_Walsh or 413-496-6240.
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