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PVIAC boys XC: Jack Yanko shatters course record; Northampton claims title

  • Boys teams begin their race during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Christopher Vayda, left, of Hampshire Regional, and Joseph Werenski, of South Hadley, are neck-and-neck at the finish during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. Vayda placed 17th; Werenski finished 16th. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton runners Benjamin Gordon-Sniffen, from left, Simon LaClair and Nick Peterson relax after the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Northampton cross country team gathers after the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Benjamin Gordon-Sniffen, of Northampton, finishes third during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Benjamin Gordon-Sniffen, of Northampton, finishes third during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Boys teams begin their race during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Yanko, of Amherst Regional, finishes first during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nick Peterson, of Northampton, finishes eighth during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aidan Shea, of Amherst Regional, finishes 10th during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Philip Hempstead, of Northampton, finishes 11th during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cartsen Carey, of Frontier Regional, finishes ninth during the PVIAC cross country championships Saturday at Stanley Park in Westfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Sunday, November 05, 2017

WESTFIELD — Jack Yanko wanted to run a conservative race.

But the Amherst Regional junior got caught up in the moment and ran what was arguably the best race of his career.

Yanko finished first to win the PVIAC cross country individual championship Saturday, covering the 3.1-mile course at Stanley Park in a meet record 15 minutes, 16 seconds.

“That’s a state championship time,” Amherst coach Chris Gould said. “He’s unbelievable and he seems unfazed by the greatness from what he ran.”

Yanko staved off challenges from West Springfield’s Gabriel Medina (15:43) and Northampton’s Ben Gordon-Sniffen (15:58). It was a rare feat to see the top three finishers turn in sub-16-minute times.

In fact, Medina’s time equaled the previous meet record held jointly by Chicopee Comp’s Steve Czupryna (2005) and Westfield’s Tim Dostie (2012). Yanko shattered the record.

“I had no idea I was coming in that fast,” Yanko said. “Coming through the final straight, it felt awesome just to see the clock.”

Yanko’s time was the best postseason run since Northampton’s Liam Sullivan ran a 15:29 at the state meet in 2015.

With PVIACs, Western Massachusetts and states over the next three weeks, Yanko thought he would take a more conservative approach. But that idea changed once the race started.

“I feel I’m more consistent this year,” Yanko said. “There’s definitely pressure going out there and knowing everyone is going to be aiming at you. It also gives me confidence.”

Northampton won the team title with 51 points, eight better than runner-up Holyoke.

“Our guys got fired up after watching our JV team win,” Hamp coach Brandon Palmer said. “We had some stud performances. These guys are hungry, tenacious and they all work hard every week.”

Amherst took third with 96 points and all three teams should be poised for Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 1 meet in Northfield.

“We’re very happy,” Gould said. “Third is a pretty good spot for us. We can see how far ahead the other two teams are and we know we’re going to have a hard time catching them. We would like to be top three at Western Mass. We hope we can build on this and run even better next week.”

Aiden Shea (16:31) was 10th for the Hurricanes and teammate Aiden Foucault Etheridge (16:42) was 13th.

Beside’s Gordon-Sniffen, Northampton teammate Nick Peterson turned in a top-10 finish. He was eighth with a time of 16:26.

Gordon-Sniffen accomplished his personal goals of a top-three finish and a sub-16 minute time.

“Those guys are just great competitors,” he said.

Gordon-Sniffen kept pace with Holyoke’s Izaien Lugo and the two exchanged some friendly encouragement during a heated race.

“He’s one of my training partners and that makes races like this even more special,” Gordon-Sniffen said. “I hadn’t raced in three weeks, so I was definitely a little rusty. But I got a feel for how people like to race.”

Philip Hempstead was 11th (16:34), while three other Blue Devils placed among the top 20. Bobby Innes-Gold (16:43) and Johnathan Dean (16:44) were 14th and 15th, respectively, while Simon LaClair was 19th (16:54).

“It’s really a coach’s dream to work with a team like this,” Palmer said. “When you have talent like this and the way they push each other, you can expect great things.”

South Hadley was led by Joe Werenski, who was 16th (16:53). The Tigers finished fourth with 216 points.

Frontier, sparked by Carsten Carey’s ninth-place showing (16:29), was sixth with 216 points

Belchertown was eighth with 257 points. Sophomore Evan Dunigan was 27th (17:09) and freshman Derek Rose was 38th (17:28).

Hampshire Regional saw Christopher Vayda place 17th (16:53) as the Red Raiders were 13th with 400 points.

Hopkins took 16th with 585 points. Eighth-grader Johnathon Hanscom was 69th in 18:10.

Granby was 18th with 602 points. The Rams saw junior Andrew Hutchinson finish 52nd (17:50).