By Matt Williams Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — 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.
Swampscott senior Peter Hale won the boys individual title by clearing the course in 16:06. Hale, a 2-time league champ in the 2-mile, claimed the fall championship for the first time.
“It’s nice for Peter to get the win after his hard work all season, and it’s also nice to hear the coaches compliment him on how respectful he is towards everyone in the conference,” said Swampscott coach Jeff Bartlett. “All seven of our varsity runners ran personal bests on the Bradley Palmer course.”
The boys team portion went down to the wire, with the top-15 runners all within 90 seconds of the winner. Peabody’s 58 was enough to edge Gloucester’s 60 to give the Tanners a sixth straight conference title.
Drew Fossa led the way by finishing fourth in 16:26, Ben Braz was 8th in 16:52 and Cody Picardy was 13th in 17:07. Richie Fournier (15th) and Alex Marcus (18th) gave Peabody the points it needed to win.
“We knew it would be tough and to come back with only two of our top seven from last year and win again is an amazing credit to the boys,” said Rocha. “They didn’t want to be the ones who lost it; they knew what they had to do and they did it.”
Beverly’s Alex Grecco was the runner-up in 16:16 and Swampscott’s Matt Mahoney ran his best race of the year to finish third in 16:20. Marblehead was third in the team standings with a pack of A.J. Ernst (6th, 16:36), Chris Rodts (10th, 17:02) and Nate Fowler (12th, 17:06) in the top 15. Beverly’s Campbell Wood was 14th in 17:09.
Swampscott was fourth as a team helped by Hale, Mahoney and Sam Crimmins’ 18:01 effort. James Bailey was the top runner for Danvers, finishing 16th in 17:24.
The Hamilton-Wenham girls had three of the top 10 finishers at the Cape Ann League Championships held Saturday morning at Bradley Palmer to win their fifth straight league meet. The Generals have won nine straight CAL regular season titles and were unbeaten in dual meets again this year.
Sophomore Emily Weigand led the way, finishing second with a time of 18:43. Emily Horgan followed in fifth in 19:01 and freshman Meghan Stone was tenth in 19:55.
“For this time of year the weather was awesome and we had a huge crowd. It was a great showing by the kids,” said veteran H-W coach Steve Sawyer. “Emily Weigand had a fantastic day, she just continues to get stronger and stronger. Emily Horgan was outstanding and Meghan Stone won her first CAL plaque.”
Also scoring for H-W were Sarah Duffy (13th, 20:09) and Carrie Goodrich (18th, 20:22).
Ipswich’s Sarah Keiran won the meet championship in 18:27. Tina Keiran was sixth for the Tigers with a time of 19:12.
Masconomet finished second behind the Generals with Meghan Collins picking up an All-League finish (8th, 19:41). The Chieftains’ Kim Cosgrove was 12th in 20:08 and Kathleen Gillespie was 22nd in 20:44.
Hamilton-Wenham’s Matt Gillis finished second in the Cape Ann League boys race and turned in top time by any local boy over the weekend with a 16:02. The junior’s outstanding run helped the Generals finish third as a team, with sophomore Jack Blatchford also earning All-League recognition with a 10th place finish (16:52).
“He’s running under the radar right now on a state level but he had a fantastic time,” said Sawyer. “We’re seeing some outstanding workouts from him and that showed.”
Masconomet’s boys finished second behind Newburyport with three All-League runners. Harrison Kent was the top finisher in fourth (16:24) while Marco Caserta was fifth (16:34) and Jack Moorman was ninth (16:47).
Ipswich’s Michael Riddle was the other local All-League runner, finishing seventh in 16:41. Newburyport’s Nick Carleo won the CAL boys title in 15:44.
St. John’s Prep controlled the field at the Catholic Conference Classic held at Wrentham, with junior Liam Dow winning the league title in 16:27. The Eagles, who were unbeaten in dual meets this season, had 28 teams points and handily outpace B.C. High’s 46. Dow beat B.C. High’s Ian O’Leary by a nose for the league individual crown.
The Prep had three of the top four runners with Tim Loehner finishing third in 16:33 and Tom O’Shea fourth in 16:45. Nick Fecteau was eighth in 16:56 and the Eagles’ final scorer was Brendam Massey (12th, 17:13).