By Evan Mugford Correspondent
Newburyport Daily News
---- — WRENTHAM — For the second year in a row, the cross-country running teams of Newburyport will be heading to the MIAA Massachusetts All-State Championships.
Coach Don Hennigar’s Clippers were simply at another level Saturday at the Eastern Mass Divisional Cross Country Championships. Held in Wrentham’s Development Center, the boys team continued their flawless ways with a first-place finish in the Division 5 race, recording 81 points — 31 points less than second-place Coyle and Cassidy and 63 less than third-place Weston — with an average race time of 16:48 and a team total time of 1:23:59.
“It was everything that we had hoped for,” Hennigar said. “To repeat as the Eastern Mass. winners was our goal all along. Everyone ran very well, which made it a great day.”
Newburyport finished with four runners in the top 16 — a feat not easily attained.
“We’ve got some talented runners, for sure, who work very hard and strived for this goal since last year, but really it’s all about their work ethic and competitiveness,” Hennigar said. “That’s the type of thing you need to do to win a meet like that, because there are just so many people in the race. You need that group running together and sticking together.”
Hennigar was especially pleased with how his fifth runner, Max Vye (40th; 17:34), ran.
“(Vye) had his best race of the year by far,” Hennigar said. “He really made a huge difference for us. Without his extra effort, this may not have happened.”
Senior co-captain Joe Santo, who placed eighth with a time of 16:37, couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
“Everything has just gone perfectly — better than we could have even hoped for,” said Santo. “Ending with a team like this, it’s awesome because I can honestly say that it’s been my favorite one. We’re really excited to race in the All-States, and we’re hoping to place third, which would be the highest the school has ever placed.”
According to Hennigar, the Clipper girls ran their best race of the year, finishing third with 140 points, an average run time of 20:42, and a total team time of 1:43:29 — a significant accomplishment considering that two of the better teams in the state, Weston (1st; 53 points) and Hamilton-Wenham (2nd; 74 points), are in their Division 5 bracket.
Captain Liz Fiascone (49th; 21:22), the lone senior on the team, believes that having two of the elite teams in their bracket helped them in the long run.
“We understood how there was a strong likelihood that they’d place first and second, but we wanted to run with them and show them that we are competitive,” Fiascone said. “That desire to belong, I think that motivated us more than anything.”
Hennigar knew that his girls team had to run a near-perfect race to stay in the hunt.
“If they ran a great race, they’d have a great opportunity to finish third, and that’s exactly what they went out and did,” Hennigar said. “It was their best race of the year, and you have to love that — the best race at the best time. They did a great job.”
The top runners for the Clipper girls team were Kelly Conway (15th; 20:18), Kristin Mackie (19th; 20:26), Erin Carroll (21st; 20:27), Rachel Haley (39th; 20:59), Lillian Eagan (46th; 21:19), Fiascone (49th; 21:22), and Rose Hart (67th; 22:03).
The top finishers for the Clipper boys were Nick Carleo (4th; 16:05), Santo (8th; 16:37), Joseph Molvar (13th; 16:49), Chris Orlando (16th; 16:54), Vye (40th; 17:34), Gabriel Ficht (64th; 18:05), and Sawyer Updike (76th; 18:21).
Other River Rival Region schools that competed included the Pentucket Sachems in Division 5, whose boys team placed 11th with 266 points, while the girls team placed eighth with 301 points.
The Sachems boys team were led by Alex Demeule (25th; 17:16), Ian Mitchell (38th; 17:32), Drew Capener (63rd; 18:04), Tom Labrecque (69th; 18:13), Jeremy Binding (71st; 18:18), Devin Mckee (73rd; 18:19), and Joe Labrecque (97th; 18:45).
The Sachems girls were led by Marissa Porter (8th; 19:48), who will be heading to the All-States next week, Kasey Mann (43rd; 21:05), Emma Marchant (62nd; 21:53), Brianna Repke (65th; 21:59), Jordan Balletto (123rd; 23:41), and Kristen Olson (140th; 24:26).
In Division 5, the Amesbury Indians girls team placed 12th with 347 points and were led by Julia Shorter (12th; 20:12), Rene Vigneault (37th; 20:57), Sam Stone (51st; 21:33), Emily Pugh (118th; 23:28), Abby Tamburello (129th; 24:09), Morgan Fahey (132nd; 24:13), and Julia Schlich (143rd; 24:30).
The Indian boys team finished 23rd with 593 points in Division 5 competition. They were led by Liam Gallagher (72nd; 18:19), Legg Cole (105th; 18:50), Riley O’Connor (119th; 19:09), Austin Parker (134th; 19:32), Jackson Kulik (163rd; 20:08), Brian Chabot (189th; 20:58), and Jon Ellen (191st; 21:08).
The Viking boys of Triton placed 25th in Division 4 with 689 points, and were paced by Sam Auwerda (117th; 19:08), Drew Collins (136th; 19:26), Dmitri Hunt (143rd; 19:39), Will McCaffrey (144th; 19:39), Dan Horgan (149th; 19:43), and Curran Callewaert (150th; 19:45).
The Triton girls team placed eighth in Division 4 with 228 points, and were led by Liz Willmonton (22nd; 20:24), Elise Mitchell (30th; 20:58), Maureen Moore (43rd; 21:33), Ceili Riccio (48th; 21:51), Madison Estes (85th; 22:58), Nicole Sullivan (107th; 23:47), and Bridget Moran (116th; 24:14).
In Division 6 competition, the Georgetown Royals boys team placed 14th with 370 points. They were led by Tom Mulligan (9th; 17:20), who qualified for the All-States meet, Nick Mammolette (65th; 19:06), Casey Reale (72nd; 19:14), Cameron Durkee (107th; 19:50), Alex Brannon (117th; 19:57), Ted Kosciuszek (121st; 20:01), and Max Mogavero (165th; 21:28).
The Georgetown girls team placed 23rd with 601 points in Division 6 competition, and were led by Kylie Hayward (61st; 22:29), Shea Mcfadden (65th; 22:41), Chantelle Lampert (144th; 25:44), Justine Maloberti (158th; 26:51), Kayla Finamore (173rd; 28:15), and Jen Hauer (179th; 29:23).