Peabody’s distance running ace Catarina Rocha broke another record on Saturday at the Northeastern Conference Cross Country Championship held at Bradley Palmer State Park. What made this one different from the rest wasn’t the time or the location, but who held it.
Rocha’s winning time of 17:22 broke the course record of 17:45 set by Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan in 1999. In the 13 years since her final cross country season at Marblehead (including a Franklin Park record 17:08 and the D2 All-State title), Flanagan became a 3-time Olympian.
Rocha, the defending NEC, EMass D1 and D1 All-State champ, missed the record by five seconds last year. Nearly pristine conditions on Saturday helped her beat it by 23 seconds.
“Catarina only asked what her time was last year. In the middle of the race, I told her she had seven minutes and I think she realized what that meant,” said Peabody coach Joe Rocha, Catarina’s dad. “Everything is coming together for Catarina, she’s in great shape and anytime you’re in the same area as someone like Shalane that’s something.”
The Tanners had the top three runners and cruised to the team title with all seven runners finishing in the top 13. Heather MacLean was the runner-up in 19:28, followed by sophomore Lauren Barrett in 19:36.
“Heather is a middle distance runner, a quarter-miler, running cross country for the first time and she’s come so far. She had an outstanding race,” said Rocha.
Beverly’s Nicole Demars finished fourth in 19:42 followed by Danvers sophomore Catalina Dominick at 19:54. Marblehead’s Janaya Randall was sixth in 20:14, Swampscott’s top runner was Isabella Kornitsky in seventh (2;)16) and Beverly’s Madison Shropshire was 8th in 20:32.
The Tanners had another pack at 9-10-11 in Sydney May, Sam Allen and Mary Leach. Beverly was second in the team standings followed by Marblehead, Swampscott and Danvers.