By Matt Jenkins
---- — Peabody’s Catarina Rocha had just crossed the Northfield Mountain finish line in 18:06.12 to capture her second consecutive Division 1 Girls All-State individual championship when she was approached by a group of reporters.
Rocha fielded the questions about her repeat and what it felt like to run the second fastest girls’ time in course history, but she wasn’t completely focused.
“The reporters started talking and I was trying to look out onto the course and see where my teammates were,” Rocha said.
Rocha was excited about her victory, but she had another goal in mind — a team title.
Heather MacLean and Lauren Barrett added top-20 finishes and Sam Allen and Antonia Pagliuca also ran well to help the Tanners capture their first team title since 1978.
Peabody was first with 108 points, followed by Lincoln-Sudbury (117), Needham (118), Whitman-Hanson (124), and Amherst-Pelham (135).
MacLean was 16th in 19:47.33 and Barrett was 17th in 19:51.23. Allen earned key points by placing 49th in 20:24.50, with Pagliuca finishing 96th in 21:08.97.
A third-place finish at states last week only made the victory sweeter for Peabody.
“Everyone was so excited. No one really thought Peabody would be a factor after finishing third in the state meet,” said Rocha, whose time was the second fastest at the course behind the 17:54 Shalane Flanagan ran in 1999. “Not everyone had a great race last week and it was a good feeling to come back and come in first at all-states.”
Last week’s performance may have served as a little motivation for the Tanners.
“They knew they were a better team than last week,” Peabody coach Joe Rocha said. “I told them to go in relaxed and run for themselves, their teammates, and to run for Peabody. They understood what I said and I didn’t have to give too much instruction after that.”
Rocha had a plan for her approach to the race and was able to stick to it throughout. She’ll run in New York next weekend in the Foot Locker regionals, so conserving some energy was part of the goal.
“The first mile I kind of just sat back. You’re going up hill and that takes a lot of energy out of you,” Rocha said. “After that I ran my own race and went form there. I kind of had a big lead so I kept that steady pace, saving a little for next weekend.”
Also in Division 1, Masconomet’s Megan Collins (43rd, 20:21.33) and Beverly’s Nicole Demars (75th, 20:48.96) ran well.
Hamilton-Wenham had an excellent day in Division 2, placing fourth with 153 points. The Generals finished behind Bishop Feehan (73 points), Tyngsboro (90), and Weston (133).
Emily Weigand was 11th in 19:30 and Emily Horgan took 19th in 19:56 to pace Hamilton-Wenham. Meghan Stone (64th, 20:57), Meg Blatchford (82nd, 21:22) and Claire Pacione (84th, 21:24) rounded out the Generals’ top five.
“All seven of our girls had PRs here, so it was a very strong showing,” H-W coach Steve Sawyer said.
Ipswich’s Sarah and Tina Keiran also stood out in the Div. 2 race, each finishing in the top 30. Sarah Keiran took seventh in 19:20.54 while Tina Keiran placed 27th in 20:07.68.
Danvers’ Catalina Dominick (29th, 20:10.01), Marblehead’s Janaya Randall (38th, 20:18.36), Bishop Fenwick’s Arianna Maida (52nd, 20:36.76), and Swampscott’s Isabella Kornitsky (68th, 21:04.75) had impressive performances in Div. 2.
On the boys’ side, St. John’s Prep finished fourth behind Lowell (96 points), Westfield (149), and Shrewsbury (175) in Div. 1. Tim Loehner (32nd, 16:51.98), Liam Dow (34th, 16:56.01), Tom O’Shea (41st, 17:02.26), Nick Fecteau (72nd, 17:22. 36), and Colin Monahan (88th, 17:30.22) led the Eagles to a top-five finish.
Peabody’s Drew Fossa was the top local finisher in Div. 1, coming in 30th in 16:50.55. Masconomet’s Harry Kent (53rd, 17:09.35), Beverly’s Alex Greco (57th, 17:11.44), and Peabody’s Ben Braz (76th, 17:23.89) also had notable finishes.
Swampscott had two top-15 finishers in Peter Hale and Matthew Mahoney in Div. 2. Hale came in sixth in 16:26.19 while Mahoney crossed the line in 16:54.39, good for 15th.
Hamilton-Wenham’s Matt Gillis was 18th in 16:59.
Marblehead had three top 100 runners, led by A.J. Ernst, who came in 26th in 17:08.36. Christopher Rodts was 43rd in 17:27.62, and Adam Linsky was 84th in 18:04.30.
Bishop Fenwick’s Bryan Mendes (71st, 17:53.06) and Ipswich’s Michael Riddle (81st, 18:03.14) also had top 100 days.