Amherst Regional boys run to second at Division 1 cross country
Renaissance School's Joshua Diaz lead the pack early for the Division 1 Boy's Cross Country Western Mass Championship Saturday at Northfield Mountain Recreation Facility in Northfield. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHFIELD — When the pack of runners in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Boys Cross Country Championship reached the 1-mile mark, Amherst Regional coach Chris Gould noticed something.
While his top four runners, who have led the team most of the season, were where they needed to be, the rest of the Hurricanes were dragging. It was understandable; many weren’t race experienced and were filling in for some injured teammates. Still, Gould saw his team’s hopes of a top finish dragging with them.
“We looked awful at the mile mark. And I saw it,” he said. “I spent the rest of the race getting to as many spots as I could, saying, ‘This isn’t good enough. This isn’t good enough.’”
Gould’s cheerleading must have done something because Amherst came back to finish second behind a dominant Westfield team, amassing 127 points to the Bombers’ 40 at Northfield Mountain Recreation Center Saturday.
Ryan Stender led the Hurricanes by finishing eighth in 17 minutes, followed by Gabe Fishman (12th, 17:30), Connor Evans (19th, 17:42) and Owen Wright (24th, 17:51).
“As a coach, I can’t tell how lousy they feel. What I can do is try to get something in their head that makes them think they can catch a couple more people,” Gould said. “I’m very proud of the kids who struggled and held it together to put it together at the end. I’m proud of all of them, but there were a few who were in dire straits for much of the race and they came back and finished the job.”
Northampton finished sixth (157), while Belchertown (326) and South Hadley (453) took 12th and 16th, respectively. Benjamin Hill led the Blue Devils by finishing 15th in 17:36. John Burton led the Orioles in 17:40, good enough for 17th.
With Westfield’s seemingly unstoppable season — the Bombers had the top three individual finishers in the race — Gould entered the race hoping for second or third and was thrilled with the results. His expectations for the state championship next Saturday, to be held at the same course, are equally tempered.
“Knowing the course helps. But sometimes, if you know the course and hate it, it doesn’t help. Somewhat of a factor is that it’s a difficult course to run and so we have to run it twice. So we’re recovering from a pretty rough, hilly, very competitive race,” he said. “We’d love to get top 10.”
Scott Carpenter of Lenox won the Division 2 boys race in 16:31, while Mount Greylock’s 74 points were good enough for first in the team competition.
Hampshire Regional (231) finished seventh, while Gateway (286) took 10th.
Mike Sears led the Raiders in 18:24, good for 17th, while teammate Brandon Cross was 19th in 18:29.
Joe Orlowski finished 29th for the Gators in 18:44.
Tyler Cox was 25th in 18:38 for Holyoke Catholic.