NEWBURY — Newburyport’s John Lucey had already smashed the Old Town Hill course record, and Triton’s Graham Stedfast and Keegan Ritchie were the next two in to keep Wednesday’s pivotal race in the balance. Knowing the next runner across could very well decide the race, Newburyport’s Chris O’Donnell and Triton’s Aidan Gay-Killeen turned on the jets, sprinting towards the finish with every ounce of strength they had.
“We were stride for stride but I knew I won because I got him on the lean, I looked to my left as soon as I leaned and I didn’t see him, so I just assumed I won,” O’Donnell said. “I didn’t know officially until I grabbed my card and it said four, that was the best moment ever.”
After trailing for much of the race, O’Donnell was able to barely edge out his rival for his best career finish. Newburyport had the next four runners across after Gay-Killeen to clinch the 26-32 win, and in similar fashion, the Triton girls were able to win the key battles in their race to clinch the crucial 24-33 victory.
“It was a great battle,” said Newburyport coach Don Hennigar. “We said we’ve got to win the battles at the end and it was great to see someone do it. Hats off to the Triton kid too, because neither one of them gave up, right to the very end.”
Lucey was the top overall finisher for the boys in 17:09, blowing away the old course record (17:57) previously held by Pentucket’s Peter Lopata. Triton’s Stedfast tied that record as well to finish second, and Ritchie was third in 18:04 before O’Donnell and Gay-Killeen both came across in 18:11.
Newburyport’s Peter D’Ambrosio (18:38), Cam Lasson (18:38) and Dreese Fadil (18:39) all came in together to clinch the win, followed shortly after by TJ Carleo in ninth (18:56). Jack O’Shea (10th, 19:02) and Griffin White (12th, 19:30) were Triton’s fourth and fifth finishers respectively.
Ellie Gay-Killeen led the way for the girls with her best finish of the season, running 21:05 to finish well ahead of the pack. Teammate Kylie Lorenzo turned in the best performance of her career by far to finish second (21:41), beating out Newburyport’s top runner Lucy Gagnon (21:54). Triton’s Sarah Harrington finished fourth (22:23), and after Newburyport’s group of Caroline Schulson (22:32), Lindsey Roberts (22:37) and Hailey LaRosa (22:53) went five-six-seven, Triton’s Isabella Silva (23:00) and Kerry Power (23:08) locked down the victory by finishing eighth and ninth respectively.
“It felt really good,” Ellie Gay-Killeen said. “I felt the best I’ve felt in a long time, so I’m just excited to win it and have our team winning.”
The Newburyport boys and Triton girls are both coming off undefeated Cape Ann League championship seasons, and Wednesday’s meet was expected to be the biggest test either team would face on their journey to repeating as champs. All four squads came into the season ranked in the MSTCA’s Preseason Small School Top 20 polls, and Hennigar said the competition lived up to the hype.
“Without a doubt these are two of the best teams in the state,” Hennigar said, specifically referring to the boys teams before later praising the girls as well. “So to be able to beat them today is an honor, because they’re good. To be able to come over here and beat them is a real feather in the cap.”
Newburyport and Triton will now look ahead to the Frank Kelley Invitational, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Boys Cross Country
Newburyport 26, Triton 32
at Old Town Hill (3.1 miles)
Top area finishers: 1. John Lucey (N) 17:09, 2. Graham Stedfast (T) 17:57, 3. Keegan Ritchie (T) 18:04, 4. Chris O’Donnell (N) 18:11, 5. Aidan Gay-Killeen (T) 18:11, 6. Peter D’Ambrosio (N) 18:38, 7. Cam Lasson (N) 18:38, 8. Dreese Fadil (N) 18:39, 9. TJ Carleo (N) 18:56, 10. Jack O’Shea (T) 19:092, 11. Owen Roberts (N) 19:14, 12. Griffin White (T) 19:30
Records: Newburyport 2-0, Triton 1-1
Girls Cross Country
Triton 24, Newburyport 33
at Old Town Hill (3.1 miles)
Top area finishers: 1. Ellie Gay-Killeen (T) 21:05, 2. Kylie Lorenzo (T) 21:41, 3. Lucy Gagnon (N) 21:54, 4. Sarah Harrington (T) 22:23, 5. Caroline Schulson (N) 22:32, 6. Lindsey Roberts (N) 22:37, 7. Hailey LaRosa (N) 22:53, 8. Isabella Silva (T) 23:00, 9. Kerry Power (T) 23:08, 10. Jenaiah Milette (T) 23:22, 11. Robin Sanger (T) 23:28, 12. Emma Delahunty (N) 23:32
Records: Newburyport 1-1, Triton 2-0