SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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November 9, 2012

Higgins finishes fall season unbeaten

PEABODY — The beat goes on.

Not only are the Peabody High boys and girls cross country teams both champions of the Northeastern Conference this fall, but the Higgins Middle School runners in the Tanner City can also claim titles for both boys and girls.

The Higgins 6th, 7th and 8th graders went unbeaten in the league meets, going a perfect 7-0 before capping the season off in the NEC championship meet.

“I love coaching these kids,” said Eric Blake, who has headed up the middle school running program in Peabody for 14 years. “They’re great to work with and we have a lot of fun. Both our boys and girls were outstanding this season.”

The Peabody girls were led by Alyssa Shashaty in the NEC Meet at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. She was third overall in 9:59 behind Beverly’s Abby Walsh (9:40) and Julia Curtin (9:41). Beverly finished second overall in the meet and Gloucester was third.

Other top runners for Higgins included fifth place finisher Aly Barrett (10:11), Marisa Orlando (8th, 10:27), Emily Nelson (10th, 10:35), Nicole Venuti (12th, 10:46), Gianna Capo (19th, 11:00) and Lilly Brennan (22nd, 11:02). Caroline O’Neil (26th), Morgan Pappas (28th), and Emily Christensen (29th) also ran well for Higgins.

The meet (and course) record for the girls was set by Peabody High’s outstanding runner, Catarina Rocha (9:33), back in 2008 when she won the meet.

For the boys, the top three teams were Peabody, Beverly, and Swampscott. Marcelo Rocha (Catarina’s brother) came very close to breaking the course record for the boys with a winning time of 8:57, just four seconds off the mark set by Daniel Drescher of Belmonte Middle School in Saugus back in 2006. He beat out Beverly’s Brian McPherson (9:03) and Swampscott’s Jack Dennehy (9:08).

Other top Higgins runners included Matt D’Amato (4th, 9:14), Marc Alperen (8th, 9:43), Stephen May (16th, 10:00), Tim January (17th, 10:06), Eric Higgins (23rd, 10:16) and Brian Buckley (30th, 10:23).

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