Andy Baumgartner/Staff photo

As Alex Demeule is showing, a little experience can go a long way.

The Pentucket sophomore was a rookie in cross-country last year and he knew it.

“I didn’t know what to expect last year and I was tentative,” said Demeule. “I didn’t know how to run a race.”

But, by the end of the season, Demeule started moving up in the pack, getting closer and closer to the leaders and gaining knowledge and motivation. Following a year on the indoor track club team as a middle distance runner and a season of lacrosse, he knew what he needed to do.

“I trained pretty hard in the summer,” said Demeule. “I ran in the summer a little the year before, but I wasn’t into it. I didn’t understand I’d be good at it and that it would help me in the future.”

The extra work and a sharper mental edge has made all the difference for Demeule. He ran a strong leg at the preseason Clipper Relays and he placed first in his first two dual meets, finishing in front of last year’s Pentucket frontrunners, Joe and Tom Labrecque.

“I had the goal of being as good as I could be and catching up to the Labrecques, but I had no idea I could beat them,” said Demeule, who has improved his best time on Pentucket’s home course by more than 30 seconds from last year. “It’s been great. I know they (Labrecque brothers) are going to push me, but I love finishing first.”

Demeule’s performance thus far has been a pleasant surprise for Pentucket coach Darrel Cox, but not completely unexpected.

“He improved by two minutes last year and he just kept getting better,” said Cox, whose team is off to a 3-0 start. “And the thing about Alex that I’ve seen this year is that he likes winning, he likes being No. 1. If he’s in a close race, he’s competitive enough that there’s a good chance he’ll win it.”

His early-season success already has Demeule reorganizing his priorities. So lacrosse may be a thing of the past.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to join track in the spring,” he said. “I consider myself a distance runner now and I think it (track) will help me a lot.”

Demeule is not the first distance runner in the family although he may be the best. His mother, Debi, is an avid road race runner and last year ran a 4:10 in the grueling heat at the Boston Marathon.

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