County's Cross Country Runners Head to State Meet Saturday
One nice thing about the 2-year-old format for the state cross country championships, is that you can look at the qualifying meets to see how Saturday's runners compare to one another.
Before the 2021 season, teams qualified for states through their sectional tournaments at various sites, including the Western Mass Championships where Berkshire County schools competed.
Now, each of three statewide divisions run qualifying meets where all the competitors from each division run on the same course on the same day in a series of waves with the best in each wave (plus some wild cards to account for potential non-parity among waves) advancing to the the State Championship.
Last Sunday, most of Berkshire County's harriers competed in the Division 3 qualifying meet in Gardner while Pittsfield's boys and girls ran in the D2 meet in Westfield.
On Saturday, the survivors from all three divisions head back to Central Mass to run for state titles in Devens.
And, on paper, it is a fair guess that several county student-athletes will be in the mix for individual and team honors at the end of the day.
The Lenox boys have been dominant all season and again were impressive on Sunday at the Gardner Golf Course.
Using time alone as a measure, the Millionaires clocked an average time of 17 minutes, 37.93 seconds on the 5-kilometer course to win the Division 3C (for the third of three waves) title.
Division 3A winner Weston had an average time of 18:10.87; 3B champ Uxbridge clocked in with at ime of 18:10.03.
There is a big caveat there: The 3B runners (boys and girls) had to contend with considerably more rain than their counterparts in the 3C and 3A waves, which ran later in the day.
That said, Uxbridge's Aidan Ross ran away with the fastest time among individuals on Sunday, crossing the finish line in a breezy 16:00.96. Northbridge's Marcus Reilly won D3A in 16:11.87; Lenox's Dennis Love ran the day's fourth-fastest time, finishing in 16:48.85.
Among Division 3 girls, look for Lenox and Mount Greylock to renew their long-standing rivalry and contend to bring another state championship trophy back to the Berkshires.
The Millionaires won last Sunday, answering Mount Greylock's team win in the PVIAC Championships at Stanley Park on Oct. 30.
Lenox and Mount Greylock clocked the two fastest team times among the 48 teams competing at the qualifying meet.
Lenox's girls had an average time of 22:05.49; Mount Greylock's combined to average 22:20.04.
In Division 3A, champion Weston had an average of 21:27.00; 3B champ Lunenburg clocked in at 22:34.46.
The fastest Berkshire County girl on Sunday was Lenox's Alice Culver, who placed third in her wave with a time of 20:42.14, one of nine girls to break 21 minutes in Gardner.
Division 3A champ Madelyn Germain of Norfolk Aggie ran Sunday's fastest time, 19:53.35.
In addition to the Lenox boys and girls and Mount Greylock girls, several other Berkshire County teams will be looking to make some noise on Saturday in Devens.
The Mount Greylock boys on Sunday finished just one point out of second place in the team standings and placed two runners in the top 10 in the 3C race.
Wahconah's boys also placed third, running in Wave A, to punch their ticket to Saturday's meet.
Four Berkshire County runners also qualified as individuals to compete on Saturday in the Division 3 state meet: Monument Mountain's Rae Geddes and Everett Pacheco, Lee's Jacob Bianco and Mount Everett's Ben Vella.
Speaking of individuals, don't sleep on Pittsfield's Kellie Harrington.
She qualified for the Division 2 State Championships in style on Sunday at Stanley Park.
Harrington covered the 5K course in 18:44.96 to place second in her wave to Holliston's Carmin Luisi.
Just one other girl, Division 2A champ Tamar Byl-Brann of Amherst, ran faster than Harrington on that day on that course giving Harrington, on paper, the third best qualifying time going into the state final.
Of course, they don't run the races on paper. On Saturday, they will settle things on the grass at Fort Devens.
The Division 2 girls race is the first of the day at 11 a.m. The D3 girls and boys run at 12:30 and 1:15, respectively.