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Taylor Blow, Hampshire Regional leave mark on PVIAC girls cross country championship; Northampton repeats



Last modified: Thursday, November 12, 2015
WESTFIELD — In a race dominated by Division 2 runners, Hampshire Regional’s Taylor Blow stood a cut above the rest.

Blow was the individual winner Saturday in the PVIAC cross country championships at Stanley Park. Her time of 18 minutes, 51 seconds topped the girls field, but that wasn’t what Blow was most proud of.

“We looked at our (school’s) trophy case and we knew there wasn’t a trophy for cross country,’’ Blow said. “We wanted to be the first to put one there.’’

Hampshire finished second, just five points behind repeat champion and Division I power Northampton, which compiled 55 points. Amherst Regional (107) took third and Holyoke Catholic - the last Division 2 school to claim a PVIAC team title, was fourth (165).

“Taylor has worked so hard and she ran an amazing race,’’ Hampshire coach Sue Tracy said.

This was a day for Division 2 teams to feel good about themselves. Seven of the top 10 finishers were Division 2 girls.

Amherst freshman Sophia Jacobs-Townsley overcame a wrong turn to secure second place in 18:56. Hampshire’s Ally Roessling took third in 19:07.

“I was leading and after I took a wrong turn, the Hampshire girls passed me,’’ Jacobs-Townsley said. “I managed to pass one of them.’’

The wrong turn came at the 2-mile mark.

“She was bummed, but it probably cost her two or three seconds,’’ Amherst coach Eric Nazar said. “It took her out of her zone.’’

And she could not surpass Blow, who won only her second race of an outstanding four-year career.

“I just went out and ran as hard as I could,’’ Blow said. “Ally always pushes me and I just wanted to give it everything I had.’’

Hampshire will attempt to go where no Raider cross country team has gone before - a successful run at a Western Massachusetts title. The sectional meet will be Nov. 14 at Stanley Park.

“We finished third last year and we want to do better,’’ Blow said. “This is an incredible team and we love each other like family.’’

The Raiders’ Sophia Prouty finished 10th in 19:55, while Talula Thibault was 16th at 20:06.

Hampshire, which has had a girls cross country team since 1986, became the team to watch after it beat Northampton in a regular season dual meet.

“I could not be more proud of them,’’ coach Sue Tracy said. “The kids performed great today. We spent a lot of time looking at our trophy case and seeing an empty space for cross country.’’

Northampton used its depth to repeat as PVIAC champions. The Blue Devils were led by Erica Dean, who finished fifth in 19:21.

“It took a lot of hard work and we stuck together,’’ Dean said. “We had a very strong pack and four girls came in pretty close behind me.’’

Which was fine with coach Ashley Krause.

“This is a team sport,’’ Krause said.

Experience was also a factor. The Blue Devils knew from last year just what it would take to win the title and they know they will be tested again in the sectional meet.

“We know we need to stay focused,’’ Dean said.

If Northampton needed any additional motivation, it only needed to look to its regular season loss to Hampshire.

“We knew we had to come back and push harder in order to beat them,’’ said Dean, who will run cross country at Middlebury College next year.

The key for the Blue Devils was the pack of Leila Markosian, Evelyn Burke, Stephanie Jordan and Mairead Blatner, who finished 11th to 14th, respectively. Emma Yount, Lauren Munster and Tori LaVerdiere also finished among the top 25.

“We’re very happy,’’ Krause said. “This was all about teamwork - girls pulling for each other.’’

With five of its seven top runners back from last year’s championship team, the Blue Devils will be hungry for another repeat in two weeks.

“This was a dress rehearsal and we know we have two big meets coming up,’’ Krause said. “They earned it.’’

Holyoke Catholic was led by Julie Carroll, who finished fourth in 19:19. Teammate Nicole Julian also cracked the top 10 in 19:25.