This article was submitted by Swampscott cross country coach Jeffrey Bartlett.
The Swampscott High School cross-country teams began the meatier part of the season on Saturday at the Frank Kelley Invitational at the Wrentham Development Center in Wrentham, Massachusetts.
The meet featured approximately 3,000 athletes and was held on the same race course as the MIAA Divisional Championships Meets that will take place in November.
The Big Blue competed in the Division II (small school) races against other teams they will see at the state level at the end of the season, and left the race course feeling excited about what's to come during the cross-country season.
This race is a turning point for many runners, as they are able to put their hard work over the last month and the summer months to test in a meet that had the feel of a divisional championship.
The varsity girls performed well over the 5k course, finishing 13th out of 21 total teams. With some Big Blue varsity runners resting or entered in the freshman race, the varsity race was a great opportunity for the depth runners of the Big Blue to gain varsity racing experience.
Junior Sarah Kelley led the way for Swampscott, finishing in 17th place overall with a personal best time of 20:35.1. Kelley was followed by sophomore Alyssa Mauriello (78th, 22:48.5), who is consistently finishing in the top five this season for the Big Blue. Abigail O'Connor (97th), Michelle LaConte (100th), and Megan Mahoney (103rd) rounded out the scoring positions for the Big Blue; Caitlin Ludke (131st) and Paige Mentuck (143rd) helped displace other runners.
Before the varsity race, members of the Swampscott freshman class toed the line in the Division II Freshman race. The race, competed over a shorter course of 1.9 miles, is a great way for the future runners of programs to race against other first year runners. Freshman Isabella Kornitsky, who has been leading the Big Blue pack this year, placed 3rd overall with a time of 12:19.5
Also finishing in the top 15 was Miranda Nocera (13th, 13:21.8), showing that the future of the girls' program is bright! Both girls have stepped up and made an impact on the team over the last few meets.
The Big Blue boys took this meet as a chance to gauge their progress over the last year and to race against some of the top small-school division teams in the state.
Senior captain Peter Hale made a statement that he is one of the top returning runners in the state, placing second overall in the Division II race with a personal best time of 15:59.7, the third fastest time of the day across both divisions.
Junior Matt Mahoney ran confidently to a sixth place finish in a time of 16:35.1 and senior captain Sam Crimmins ran a personal best by 45 seconds to place 31st with a time of 17:30.7. Robert McLaughlin (83rd), Marco Scibelli (98th), and John King (115th) rounded out the varsity for the Big Blue.
Despite missing their fourth runner, Swampscott was able to place 5th as a team in the 21 team field, a confidence booster for the team before some very competitive dual meets in the next few weeks.
Overall, both teams should be very pleased with their efforts on Saturday! Both teams were able to get a look the same course they will be racing again in six weeks and race against some rival teams from within the Northeast Confernce. Improvements all across the board took place over the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman races with many runners running personal best times for the season or their career (a full list of PRs was not available at press time).
The Frank Kelley Invitational provided athletes of all abilities the chance to experience true cross-country: a wet grass course and cool weather, hundreds of runners in a race, and a carnival-like atmosphere.
The Big Blue will next compete in a home meet against Saugus on Tuesday, October 2nd. The race starts at 4PM at Upper Jackson Park. Spectators should please park at the high school; the upper parking lot will be closed off as it is on the race course.