More than 1,000 runners gathered at Maudslay State Park on Saturday to kick off the 2019 cross country season at the annual Clipper Relays. Facing down several of the state’s top programs, the local Cape Ann League contingent more than held its own, with four local teams finishing in the top 10.

The Newburyport boys’ first team was the top placing local team, taking fourth out of 237 teams. The group of John Lucey, Cam Lasson and Dreese Fadil finished behind Division 1 powerhouses Wellesley, St. John’s Prep and Lexington and just ahead of fifth place Triton, whose team of Graham Stedfast, Keegan Ritchie and Aidan Gay-Killeen exceeded expectations to finish fifth overall.

The Triton girls team of Sarah Harrington, Kylie Lorenzo and Ellie Gay-Killeen also finished fifth out of 164 teams to lead the locals, matching their breakout performance from a year ago. The girls race was won by New Hampshire power Exeter, with North Andover, Billerica and Lexington rounding out the top five.

“We’re thrilled with the way the boys did, we’re hoping the boys are going to start to come out of the girls shadow this season. That’s the best finish they’ve ever had at the Clipper Relays and the fastest time we’ve had in a while, so we’re thrilled with the way they performed,” said Triton coach Joe Colbert. “That doesn’t even include Tyler Stranc who was running on a different team, so we’re pretty happy with that.

“The girls, I’m thrilled with that performance, though it wasn’t as much of a surprise,” Colbert continued. “Kylie and Ellie and Sarah are hoping to be among the best in the league, they finished fifth last year too so they might have wanted to finish better, but I was thrilled with it.”

Unlike most cross country events, in which there is a single 3.1-mile race that everyone runs at once, the Clipper Relays are formatted as a three by 2-mile relay race that loops around Maudslay State Park. The Pentucket girls also finished inside the top 10, placing seventh overall thanks to Phoebe Rubio, Ella Edic and Audrey Conover.

“I was so impressed with their performance,” said Pentucket girls coach Todd Ruland. “Audrey was the wild cad because as a freshman running her first race with us, I was worried she would start too fast. She held the seventh spot throughout and finished strong.”

The Pentucket boys team of Peter Lopata, Colin Costa and Keegan Comeau also had a great showing, finishing 14th.

“I thought they ran well, it’s tough because you can’t see them out there. It’s a loop so you see them take off, hand off and finish,” said Pentucket boys coach Darrel Cox. “Timewise I was very happy, Peter was right there not far behind John Lucey, he was within 18 or 19 seconds, so that was good because he was very conservative with his run. Colin was good and Keegan has come on tremendously since his freshman year.”

The Newburyport girls rounded out the top teams, finishing 14th overall behind the efforts of Caroline Walsh, Lindsey Roberts and Lucy Gagnon. Newburyport coach and Clipper Relays race director Don Hennigar said afterwards that he was pleased with his teams’ efforts in their first race.

“[The boys] finished fourth behind three powerhouse Division 1 teams, and Triton was right behind us, which was pretty exciting,” Hennigar said. “And the girls, I was happy with the way they ran, it was a good start and we’ll get going on the regular season Wednesday.”

The Amesbury boys placed 37th overall and the girls took 53rd.

2019 Clipper Relays

Boys Results

1. Wellesley 30:02

2. St. John’s Prep 30:16

3. Lexington 30:27

4. Newburyport 30:43

5. Triton 30:53

6. Lexington 2 30:56

7. Lowell 30:58

8. Marblehead 30:58

9. Methuen 30:59

10. BC High 31:00

11. Wellesley 2 31:10

12. North Andover 31:17

13. Billerica 31:19

14. Pentucket 31:26

15. Needham 31:27

Girls Results

1. Exeter 36:05

2. North Andover 36:11

3. Billerica 36:17

4. Lexington 36:21

5. Triton 36:57

6. Wellesley 37:11

7. Pentucket 37:26

8. Beverly 37:30

9. Lexington 37:56

10. Haverhill 38:04

11. Tewksbury 38:05

12. Exeter 2 38:10

13. Weston 38:38

14. Newburyport 39:04

15. Wellesley 2 39:18

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