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WMass girls cross country: Sophia Jacobs-Townsley adds third D1 crown as Amherst reclaims title

  • Amherst's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs to a first place finish during the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst Regional’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs at the start of the Western Massachusetts Girls Division 1 Cross Country Championship, Saturday in Northfield. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton's Mary Yount runs to a second place finish during the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs to a first place finish during the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst Regional’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs down the final stretch to a first-place finish during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship meet at Northfield Recreation Center Saturday. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amherst's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley runs down the final stretch to a first place finish during the Girls D1 2017 MIAA Western Mass Cross Country Championship at Northfield Mountain on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Greyson Young runs down the final stretch during the Western Massachusetts Division II Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at Northfield Mountain. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



For the Gazette
Saturday, November 11, 2017

NORTHFIELD — For the third straight year, Sophia Jacobs-Townsley will go into the state Division 1 girls cross country meet as a Western Massachusetts individual champion, but this will be even more special for the Amherst Regional junior because this time, she will take a championship team with her.

It was a three-peat for Jacobs-Townsley, who crossed the finish line at the Northfield Mountain Recreation Center in 19 minutes, 26 seconds Saturday. Amherst claimed its first sectional crown since 2013 with 44 points, 13 better than runner-up Northampton, which also returns to the state meet, Nov. 18 in Wrentham.

Amherst finished first on the strength of four top-10 finishers and will go the state meet for the 29th time in program history. Julia Hopley was third (20:16), Augusta Fricke finished eighth (21:12) and Zada Forde placed ninth (21:13) in a race dominated by the Hurricanes and Blue Devils.

“We’re excited to get our title back,” Jacobs-Townsley said. “We knew how strong Northampton would be.”

Runners from Amherst and Northampton traded hugs at the finish line in a show of how much respect these storied rivals have for one another.

Hampshire Regional, which narrowly missed qualifying for Division 2 states last season, took third place with 117 points to clinch a berth at states. Mount Greylock (42) won the D2 race, followed by Lenox (45).

No one expected to catch Jacobs-Townsley, but Northampton’s Mary Yount gave it her best shot. She placed second in 20:03 to lead her team to a state berth.

“Sophia’s very good and it’s a honor to run with her,” Yount said. “After that one big hill, it was all downhill after that and I felt good.”

Hamp teammate Rosie Ingmann finished fourth (20:47) and Emma Yount was 12th (21:29).

“I’m happy our team did so well,” Ingmann said. “We won Western Mass. last year and there was a lot on our shoulders.”

This was Jacobs-Townsley’s first competitive race at Northfield Mountain and it was hardly a walk in the park. Her first two sectional titles came at Stanley Park in Westfield.

“This was more challenging,” Jacobs-Townsley said. “It’s a great course – a true cross country course – and it demonstrates the essence of cross country.”

She needed to overcome a leg cramp during the second mile.

“She ran beautifully,” Amherst coach Elena Betke-Brunswick said. “She was incredibly composed and she ran strong and smooth.”

So did her teammates.

Amherst also got a top-25 finish from freshman Vivian Jacobs-Townsley, who was 23th in 22:04, while Catherine Larson was 35th (22:31) and Maddie Shea was 39th (22:48).

“The girls worked super hard together and went after what they wanted,” Betke-Brunswick said. “Our running order got shifted in the middle, but they kept their heads together and kept working all the way to the finish line.”

Tradition was not lost on the Hurricanes.

“They really look to each other for support and encouragement,” Betke-Brunswick said. “They’re running well as a team.”

Northampton’s Saraphina Forman and Maggie Reade were 19th and 20th, respectively, at 21:45 and 21:48. Naomi Andrew was 22nd (22:03) and Maddie Etzel was 37th (22:41).

Hampshire Regional was sparked by Lovisa Swedenborg and Lily Hakkarainen, who were 18th and 19th respectively, at 21:25 and 21:44.

“Lovisa’s an exchange student from Sweden and this is a new sport for her,” Hampshire coach Sue Tracy said. “She’s been fantastic and Lily has shown steady improvement all season. She really came through. It’s been a challenging year and these guys really needed to push each other.”

Sophia Prouty was 23rd (22:16) and Amanda Adams was 25th (22:17), while Charlotte Reynolds was 34th (22:52). Freshman Delaney Marek was 38th (23:16).

Jocelyne Rondeau, of South Hadley, was seventh in 21:01 and will compete at the Division 1 state meet. The Tigers placed eighth (230).

Abigail Patel was 64th (24:19) for Belchertown (15th, 385) in Division 1.

In Division 2, Gateway (15th, 449 points) had the top sixth-grade finisher in Sawyer Wilkinson, who was 72nd at 26:05.

Frontier, which finished 10th (263 points), was sparked by Emily Laus (39th, 23:28)

Granby was 11th (295) and was led by Hannah Giroux, who was 41st at 23:35.