By Jean DePlacido
---- — This weekend the cream of the crop will compete in the cross country All-State Meet on the Gardner Municipal Golf Course. Danvers’ Catalina Dominick will be one to watch after winning the Division 4 Eastern Mass. title.
“She has had an incredible season, finally healthy all season after experiencing a lot of cardio-vascular problems last season when she was never better than 90 percent,” said Falcon coach John Norris. “She’s developed a different perspective and is now able to push herself harder without experiencing a lot of anxiety.
“Now she’s more relaxed, and has the attitude that whatever happens, will happen. When she came into the program she was so competitive hating to lose, sometimes to the point where she pushed herself too hard and collapsed.”
Last weekend Dominick was one of only two girls in any class to run under 18 minutes on the demanding Wrentham course (17:56). She is hoping to end a terrific season with another top finish.
“I want to run a smart race and do my best,” Dominick said. “I think I can win if I do that, and it would be a great way to end the season. I’m so happy with how things have gone after I went through so much. It’s changed my perspective, and now I go out there thinking if I do my best I know I could not have done anything more. If somebody does beat me I know all the credit goes to her for running a great race.”
For the first time since 2007 the Beverly girls’ team will be at All-States after finishing fourth in a very competitive Division 2. Coach Dave Jellerson singled out his fifth runner Keely Higgins for turning in a strong performance that made the difference.
“She saved our bacon with a 20 second PR,” said Jellerson. “If she hadn’t, we probably would not have made it because our No. 2 and 4 runners were a little off. They always say the fifth runner is the most important person on the team, and Keely certainly was for us.
“Going to All-States as a team was one of our goals this year. We knew we had a very strong top three, but the key was the development of our fourth (Maeve Monahan) and fifth girls.”
Peabody girls and boys are both going after the boys finished second in Division 1 while the girls were third.
“This is the first time ever the boys and girls have both been in the top three,” said Tanner coach Joe Rocha. “And it’s the highest finish ever for the boys; when I first took over the program the boys finished fifth once. This is a great accomplishment.”
The Hamilton-Wenham boys and girls also have both teams going after the girls won Division 5 and the boys were second. The girls had six runners in the top 12, and the boys five in the top 22 in an incredibly strong showing. The girls have won six consecutive CAL championships and eight D-5 titles in the last nine years.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how good the girls were until the end of the season because we haven’t had tough competition in a while. They were spectacular at the class meet, and I expect a very competitive race this weekend,” said H-W coach Steve Sawyer.
“At the beginning of the season I felt the boys had the potential for a good season, but were a work in progress. Freshman Daniel Allara was injured and didn’t get going until midway through the season. We did so well at the CAL meet, I knew we had a shot at winning the whole thing at the class meet, and it’s great to have both teams in the All-State meet.”
The Marblehead girls won their first ever Eastern Mass. championship led by Janaya Randall, who was second in D-4. They are looking to end the season with another strong showing.
“I am extremely proud of all that they have done,” said Magician coach Jen Rodier. “They really pulled together to make this happen, and I am excited to see what this talented group can do at the state meet.”
Another runner to watch is Swampscott’s Matt Mahoney, who placed third in D-5 and won the NEC Meet. Mahoney ran a very quick 15:39 on the Wrentham course. Harry Kent and Meghan Collins from Masconomet, Ipswich’s Michael Riddle and Emily DeMarco, Luke Bugler from St. John’s Prep, Beverly’s Campbell Wood, Danvers’ James Bailey, and Fenwick’s Arianna Maida all qualified. The Marblehead boys are also going as a team.