Amherst’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley places third at Division 1 girls all-state meet

  • Amherst Regional sophomore Sophia Jacobs-Townsley, shown during the season, placed third at the Division 1 girls all-state championship at Gardner Municipal Golf Course Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF/FILE

For the Gazette
Published: 11/19/2016 11:17:28 PM

GARDNER -- Sophia Jacobs-Townsley knew the course and the competition would be challenging.

Undaunted, the Amherst Regional sophomore met those challenges head on and proceeded to finish third at the state girls Division 1 cross country meet.

Jacobs-Townsley covered the 2.9-mile course at Gardner Municipal Golf Course Saturday afternoon in 19 minutes, 30 seconds. It was a vast improvement over last year’s 10th place finish at Stanley Park in Westfield.

“I knew after the first mile, I wasn’t going to finish first,’’ Jacobs-Townsley said. “I’m happy the way things turned out.’’

Natick sophomore Grace Connolly won in 18:27. Senior Margot Ehrenthrol of Concord-Carlisle was second in 19:25.

Jacobs-Townsley was seeded third and lived up to that ranking.

“My time really didn’t matter because it’s really hard to PR (personal record) in the postseason,’’ she said. “I really had to put in an effort for that last 400 yards. The competition was very good. As much as I enjoy being first, I also enjoy running against such great runners.’’

Jacobs-Townsley, who won the PVIAC championship and Western Massachusetts Division 1 meet, is off to next weekend’s Nike Cross Regionals Northeast at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, New York, where she will conclude her fall cross country season before she prepares for winter indoor track.

“I think this year I will have a better chance because I’m a little faster than last season,’’ she said. “I know it seems like a big goal, but next season I hope to be able to take off a minute.’’

Amherst had three other runners break the top 100. Augusta Fricke was 71st in 21:28. Up and coming sophomore Julia Hopley placed 92nd in 21:58. Freshman Zada Forde was 96th in 22:00.

Northampton was elated with a top-10 finish. The Blue Devils finished ninth overall with 232 points. Lexington (87), Lowell (158) and Woburn (196) grabbed the top three spots.

“Now that the season’s over we can truly say the girls did their job every single race,’’ Northampton coach Ryan Davis said.

The reigning Western Mass. Division 1 champions were led by senior Leila Markosian. She finished 27th in 20:29.

“This was a hard course with a really good field,’’ Markosian said.

Teammate Mary Yount was 39th in 20:55. The Blue Devils’ Evelyn Burke was 76th in 21:37. Mairead Blatner was 80th in 21:44.

“It was a great race and the girls executed it exactly as planned,’’ Davis said. “We looked at the projections and pretty much all of them ran accordingly.’’

South Hadley sophomore Jocelyn Rondeau was 87th in 21:49.

Easthampton resident Haley Sullivan, who attends Pope Francis High School in Chicopee, placed 62nd in the Division 2 race in 21:57.

Hampshire Regional’s Sophia Prouty was 71st in the Division 2 race in 21:28. Teammate Haley Marek was 112th in 22:18.

Bridget Mitchell of Milton won in 19:15.

Boys championships

Amherst sophomore Jack Yanko, who was second last week at the Western Mass. Division 1 meet, finished 32nd overall Saturday, in a flat 17 minutes.

Yanko was running as high as ninth early on, but a pack of runners were able to pass him. Marcelo Rocha of Peabody won in 15:38.

Yanko’s a very mature runner,’’ Amherst coach Chris Gould said. “We could argue that maybe he went out a little to fast, but he went for it against what may have been the best boys’ field I’ve seen here in 20 years.’’

Northampton placed 18th with 427 points. Wellesley (76), Lowell (82) and Peabody (154) claimed the top three.

The Blue Devils were led by Ethan Milsark, who was 62nd in 17:21.

Milsark was admired by his teammates for toughing out the PVIAC and Western Mass. races despite behind under the weather. He did not have his best performances in either race, but his efforts helped the Blue Devils secure a team berth at states.

“This week, I really got down to business,’’ Milsark said. “I feel today was really good.’’

Hamp’s Phil Hempstead finished 103rd overall in 17:51.

“We’ve had a lot of guys step up (during the postseason) and we had a pretty good season,’’ Milsark said.

Frontier Regional’s Alex Sharp learned a valuable lesson in the Division 2 race. Despite warnings from coaches Bob Smith and Walt Flynn not to go out too fast, Sharp let himself get caught up in the moment.

“I went out way to fast and tanked at the end,’’ Sharp said. “I won’t let that happen again.

Sharp, a sophomore, finished the race in 18:15, good for 91st.

“I’m disappointed - not with my time, but the way I ran the race,’’ he said.

Sharp said he ran the first mile in 5:15 instead of the planned 5:34.

Carsten Carey was not able to run due to a calf injury, which hurt the Red Hawks team score. Frontier placed last out of 20 teams.

However, the future is bright for the Red Hawks, who return four of their top five runners from a team that took home the program’s first Western Massachusetts trophy.

“We put four guys in between 19:10 and 19:34,’’ Smith said. “This (Gardner) course was more challenging than it used to be and our guys will learn from this.’’

Hampshire Regional freshman Chris Vayda was 90th in 18:14.

Jack Carleo of Newburyport placed first in 16:20.

Hopedale (89) was first followed by Wakefield (108) and Newburyport (178).

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