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Anna Kaplan leads Amherst to 22nd Division 1 cross country title



Friday, December 06, 2013
NORTHFIELD — All those years running around with Mel Devoney and Audrey Gould paid off for Anna Kaplan Saturday.

The Amherst Regional senior won the Western Massachusetts Division 1 cross country championship at Northfield Mountain.

Kaplan finished in 19 minutes, 56 seconds. She was 15 seconds ahead of runner-up Mariel Lutz, of Northampton.

“It’s so exciting. I looked up to Audrey and Mel and chased them around every year they were on the team,” Kaplan said. “Just to follow in their footsteps means so much.”

Kaplan led a dominating effort by the Hurricanes, who nearly placed five runners in the top 10.

Amherst won its 22nd championship with 28 points on the 3.1-mile course. It was the Hurricanes’ third straight title and 18th in the last 19 seasons.

“It just shows that all our work all season has paid off and it’s great to have the whole team behind me and with me,” Kaplan said. “I wouldn’t be here without them. They pushed me so hard all season.”

Longmeadow was second with 68 points, followed by Northampton with 105. The top three teams qualified for next Saturday’s state meet.

“It was a goal that we had been thinking about at the beginning of the season and we knew it was going to be hard and it wasn’t going to be a given,” said Lutz, who finished in 20:11. “It wasn’t like we went out and raced to get to states, we went out and raced to have good races and then we got to go to states because we worked hard. It was a goal but it wasn’t our first goal. We’re really happy about it.”

South Hadley, which came in undefeated, was fifth behind Pittsfield. Belchertown was eighth.

“We practice here and raced here a lot over the years,” Amherst coach Eric Nazar said. “This is a very technical course which means it’s a lot easier to screw something up on that first mile. What we say is you can’t win it at Northfield in the first mile, but you can lose the race in the first mile. ... We’re not trying to kill it that first mile. We want to work it that second mile. That was our plan. We really wanted to work the flats on the second mile.”

Amherst’s plan worked. Emma Gonzalez was fourth (20:20), half a step behind Westfield’s Allyson Morin. Gonzalez’s teammate Amanda Riley was fifth in 20:34 with Ariel Christie seventh in 20:52.

“This race was one of my best all season,” Gonzalez said. “More importantly, it was one of the best for our team. Our spread was incredible. I don’t think we’ve every been that close together. We were so interconnected. I could see Anna the whole time, and I could hear Amanda and Ariel’s names being yelled. I knew they were right behind me. We were all connected by a thread.”

Had Hannah Lebowitz (11th, 21:30) been two seconds faster, the sophomore would have cracked the top 10.

Margaret Mahoney was eighth in 21:06 for Northampton. Tori Laverdiere was 16th in 21:47, while Julia Snodgrass and Lauren Munster were 39th (22:46) and 40th (22:53), respectively, for the Blue Devils.

South Hadley will send two runners to the state meet. Serena Sarage was ninth in 21:08, while Grace Bailly was 13th in 21:39.

Jillian Paterwic was 44th in 23:04 for Belchertown.

Division 2

Berkshire County dominated the race as Mount Greylock (68), Lenox (81) and Monument Mountain (111) placed first, second and third respectively.

Sarah Jones was 14th in 21:58 to pace fourth-place Holyoke Catholic (123).

Hampshire Regional was fifth with 135 points. Eighth-grader Sophie Prouty was sixth in 21:10 for the Raiders.

“The whole time I was thinking I was going to be the seventh best runner in western Mass.,” Prouty said. “But that was when I was in seventh. I’m just felt really happy with myself.”

Frontier Regional was seventh with 206 as Caitlin Burnett finished 12th in 21:50.

Ashley Yost was 47th (23:34) for 13th-place Gateway (371).

Emma Landry was 81st in 25:01 for 15th-place Granby (411).

Prouty, Burnett and Jones qualified for the state meet.