All-State cross country: Northampton girls finally edge Amherst, finish 5th

  • Northampton’s Norah Reade, left, shown during the PVIAC Championships earlier this season, was the Blue Devils’ top finisher at Saturday’s all-state meet. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer 
Published: 11/19/2022 10:54:42 PM

AYER – Last season, neither the Northampton or Amherst girls could crack the top 10 teams at the MIAA All-State Cross Country meet. Amherst placed 14th and Northampton finished 19th – respectable, but not elite. 

This year it was a totally different story. 

The Blue Devils and Hurricanes put on a pair of impressive performances on a deceptively difficult course at Fort Devens on Saturday afternoon at the MIAA Division 2 All-State meet. Northampton finally took down rival Amherst, earning a fifth place finish with 218 points, just eight points ahead the sixth-place Hurricanes (226). 

“I feel like we deserved that. We love Amherst, we have no bad blood with them or anything, but it was a great feeling to finally get a win,” Northampton’s Norah Reade said. “Fifth in All-States is amazing. I’m so proud of our team.”

While Northampton was the better team, Amherst’s Tamar Byl-Brann had the fastest individual time. Byl-Brann finished fifth overall in the Division 2 race in 19 minutes, 8.72 seconds, 11 spots better than her 16th place finish last year. 

“I think I was more running for a place than a time. The course was pretty difficult, especially the hill which was ended up being a lot harder than I thought when I looked at it,” Byl-Brann said. “I'm really proud of the team. We have a bunch of new young people and I think that they really handled the pressure really well.”

The state meet was on a new course this year, one that ran three loops around Willard Park, taking the runners up a hill three times and bottle-necking them together at different points in the race. It didn’t make for the fastest course, which meant that places, more than times, were what mattered.

“What I liked the most was the spunk at the finish,” Northampton head coach Linda Rowbotham said. “When they all came off that chute after the three mile mark coming to the finish, you can just see them going by people, and that's what we trained.”

Reade placed 17th with a 19:46.68 and teammate Maeve O’Neil finished 29th with 20:22.53. Amherst’s Elizabeth Sawicki was the Hurricanes’ second finisher, crossing the line in 36th place (20:31.75).

In the boys’ Division 2 race, Northampton’s Teddy King-Pollet had the best individual performance of the day, placing 30th with a 17:03.30, while Amherst had the best team performance, placing 12th with 310 points. 

Amherst’s David Pinero-Jacome was right behind King-Pollet in 34th (17:08.62). Jude Mourad cracked the top 50 for Northampton, finishing 48th with a 17:25.27. Part of Amherst’s 12th place finish was the performance of their middle three runners –  Diego Lopez (75th, 17:43.58), Sam Woodruff (76th, 17:44.37) and Aidan Bergeron (77th, 17:44.67) all finished within a second of each other. 

The Belchertown boys team placed 22nd as a team, led by twins Brandon and Trevor Adamson, who placed 95th (18:00.34) and 106th (18:07.87), respectively.

Meatball Magic

Different runners are motivated by different things. Hampshire eighth-grader Kathleen Barry had two things on her mind as she toed the starting line at her first all-state meet. 

“One was I get a meatball sub once I finish, two was we need to run faster so we can be better than the soccer team,” Barry said, grinning. 

Whether it was the meatball sub or her training, Barry was moving on Saturday, finishing 10th overall in the Division 3 race with a time of 20:12.85. Barry’s performance led the Raiders to a sixth place finish with 226 points, just edging out Frontier by four points (seventh, 230). 

“We wanted to improve on last year's performance. Last year we were ninth and this year we were seventh so it was a success,” Frontier’s Leah Gump said. “We've raced (Hampshire) a lot. It's sort of a friendly rivalry, because I think they really push us to be our best as well.”

Gump finished eight spots behind Barry in 18th with a 20:39.45, while teammate Abigail Howard took 45th with a 21:31.00. Hampshire’s Ellia Masenior just edged Howard at the finish, placing 42nd in 21:27.33. Sicily Chase also ran well for the Raiders, placing 62nd for Hampshire with a 21:57.32.

Three individuals raced in the girls’ Division 3 race – Gateway’s Alexandra Henrichon (103rd, 22:52.42), Hopkins Academy’s Caprial DiBartolomeo (113th, 22:58.67) and PVCICS’ Sarah Fardal (129th, 23:39.37). 

The Hampshire boys were the lone team to qualify in the Division 3 race, and placed 10th as a squad with 288 points after graduating a good number of seniors from last year’s squad. Despite missing junior Gavin DaFonte to injury, the Raiders held their own in a tough race. 

Dillon Neveu and Spencer Reese led the way for Hampshire, finishing 32nd (17:29.60) and 35th (17:39.49), respectively. 

Senior Kyan Frantz from PVCICS finished 73rd (18.17.77). 

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