WMass Division 1 boys cross country: Northampton edges Amherst for final spot at states

For the Gazette
Published: 11/13/2016 9:48:48 PM

WESTFIELD — With four strong teams competing Sunday for the Western Massachusetts Division 1 cross country championship, one was going to be left behind for the state meet.

Amherst turned out to be the team that saw its season end after Northampton beat out the Hurricanes for the third and final spot for states.

West Springfield (47 points) was a surprise winner, edging Holyoke (52 points). Northampton took third with 97 points and is elated to return to the state meet on Saturday at Gardner.

“It’s nice to have four good teams who are all competitive,” Northampton coach Brandon Palmer said. “This could have gone a lot of different ways. It’s quite an honor for us to go to states.”

Amherst’s Jack Yanko (15 minutes, 52 seconds) placed second, a mere seven seconds back of champion Cameron Correia of Holyoke. But Yanko was the lone Hurricane to finish among the top 10.

“I didn’t feel 100 percent today, but I gave it everything I had,” Yanko said. “Cameron’s an incredible runner. With 400 yards to go, we were together, but I couldn’t find it in my legs to stick with him.”

The Blue Devils did not place a single runner among the top 10, but their depth proved to be enough to qualify.

“This feels good,” Palmer said. “We want to make this a tradition.”

Nick Peterson led the Blue Devils. He finished 13th in 17:03. Teammate Phillip Hempstead was 15th in 17:05 and Ethan Milsark was 20th in 17:19.

“Nick ran a strong race,” Hempstead said. “He’s been very good for us.”

Bobby Innes-Gold (24th, 17:29) and Sam Norton (25th, 17:30) picked up valuable points for the Blue Devils. Michael Dean (31st, 17:43) and Johnathan Dean (35th, 17:57) weren’t far behind.

“Some of our guys were not at their best, but others stepped up and I’m very proud of them,” Palmer said. “It was a magical day. This is a close knit group and they have each other’s backs.”

South Hadley’s Joe Werenski finished 23rd in 17:28 and qualified for the state meet. So did Belchertown’s Parker Mas (38th in 18:02).

Aiden Foucault-Etheridge was 17th in 17:12 for Amherst. Aidan Shea (17:42) and Sean Towse (17:43) crossed in 29th and 30th for the Hurricanes. The trio will join Yanko as individuals at the state meet.

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