On Cross Country
---- — The West Newbury pipeline continued for St. John’s Prep this fall, and that was definitely a good thing for the Eagles.
Liam Dow, who was the No. 1 man for St. John’s last year as a junior, returned and was as good as ever and, with junior Tim Loehner of Danvers, there was a solid one-two punch.
Another West Newbury resident, Scott Atwood, was a scorer for St. John’s, but he suffered an injury late in the season.
With or without Atwood, another West Newbury resident emerged to help save the day for St. John’s, which lost three of its top five from last year’s team that finished fourth at the Division 1 All-State meet. That would be sophomore Luke Bugler, who was only on the freshman team last year, but surged to No. 3 and at the EMass. Division 1 meet, was the first Eagle to finish, taking 21st in 16:23.1 to qualify for this week’s All-State meet as an individual.
“Luke was definitely the surprise of the team,” said St. John’s Prep coach John Boyle. “We were searching for a fifth man and he emerged as our No. 3 guy. He wasn’t even our best freshman last year, but he worked really hard at it and just made amazing improvement.”
With the boost from Bugler, the Eagles were right in the thick of the best competition all year. They captured the Catholic Conference crown, came in fourth at the rugged Ocean State Invitational in Rhode Island and won its division at the Manhattan Invitational.
The leader until last Saturday was Dow, who has been in the front of the pack almost every meet and is also a terrific student. He’s taking five AP classes and hopes to attend Dartmouth next year.
Unfortunately, St. John’s didn’t reach its goal of making All-State as a team, finishing sixth in what was one of the strongest fields in years. The Eagles got a solid effort from fifth man Evan MacMullin of Haverhill, but they weren’t quite fast enough in the front.
The top three teams Saturday (Lowell, Peabody and Lexington) all had three runners in before Bulger crossed the finish line. Still, it was another strong year for the Eagles, thanks largely to their West Newbury connection.
It wasn’t a great day for local teams at the EMass meets Saturday, but there were some fine individual performances, especially among the girls.
Of particular note were the All-State qualifying effort’s of Andover’s Leila Aruri (fourth) and Sarah Rothman (14th) as well as Methuen’s Marwah Haq (15th) and vastly improved junior Hannah Wunderlich (21st) in Division 1 and Central’s Tiffany Simione, who was fourth in Division 2. Simione always seems to peak late in the season.
As for Haverhill’s Riley Gilmore, who came in 19th, look for her to bounce back at All-State. She may have gone out too fast at the EMass class meet, leading the entire field for the first mile to mile and a half.
On the boys side, special credit is due for North Andover’s Marty Conrad (ninth in a strong Division field with a 16:03), Andover Max Galat (24th) and Pentucket’s Alex Demeule (14th in Div. 2 in 16:45).
Odds and ends
The top freshman in the Division 1 meet Saturday has a familiar name. He’s Peabody’s Marcelo Rocha, another relative of the great Fernando Braz. Rocha came in 15th in 16:14.6. ...
Congratulations are in order for Exeter sophomore Justin Carbone, who has a large family from the Haverhill area. Carbone made a dramatic improvement this year, coming in fourth at the Meet of Champions after being 40th as a freshman, and was 62nd last Saturday at the New England meet. ...
One is going to need a calculator to count the number of course records established by Phillips Academy star Anoush Shehadeh. She did it again Saturday with a brilliant 17:38.5 clocking for first place in the Interscholastic meet at St. Paul’s.