Swampscott Cross-Country Travels Up Country For Meet

Swampscott cross-country coach Jeffrey Bartlett writes about the boys' and girls' teams meets at the Woods Trail Run (hosted by Thetford Academy, Vermont) and at hoem against Gloucester.

The Big Blue cross-country teams headed up to Vermont last weekend for their annual trip featuring the Woods Trail Run, hosted by Thetford Academy. The race featured teams from across New England and New York, and was a fantastic opportunity for the Big Blue athletes to race against top-notch competition on a hilly race course. Runners were grouped into heats based on their ability level, giving everyone an opportunity to race against runners at their own level.
The Big Blue boys had a strong team showing, placing 19th our of 54 teams without one of their top three runners. Senior captain Peter Hale placed 3rd over the muddy, hilly course with a time of 16:59. Junior Matt Mahoney placed in the top ten with his 7th place finish in a time of 17:25. Sophomores Bennett Smith (171st, 19:43) and Robert McLaughlin (250th, 20:24) and junior Marco Scibelli (328th, 20:52) rounded out the varsity scoring for Swampscott; all finished in the top half of the field. On the girls' side, the Big Blue was led by freshman Isabella Kornitsky (54th place, 22:21), who paced the girls to a 23rd place finish out of 49 teams. Miranda Nocera (172nd, 24:12) stepped up for some sick runners, as did sophomore Alyssa Mauriello (247th, 25:11). Juniors Megan Mahoney (254th, 25:17) and Michelle Laconte (276th, 25:36) completed the scoring for Swampscott. 
Swampscott brought 79 student-athletes to the Woods Trail Run, and the entire trip could not have been possible without the Herculean effort put forth by the Swampscott Track/CC Boosters and assistant coach Joe Tenney.

Swampscott vs. Gloucester at Swampscott (Upper Jackson 2.65 mile course).
The Swampscott High School cross-country teams are no strangers to competing in rain; after three meets in a row of rain they're used to it! On Wednesday, the Big Blue faced the Fishermen of Gloucester in what was the last home meet of the season for Swampscott. The meet was especially bittersweet because it was the last home meet ever for the members of the senior class.
The boys started things off against a loaded Gloucester squad. Both teams were undefeated in the NEC South going into this meet, and Gloucester was out to avenge a one-point loss to Swampscott from last season. The Big Blue knew that they needed everyone to step up; senior captain Sam Crimmins (concussion) was not racing and that gap needed to be filled. When the dust had settled and the mud had been wiped off of racing flats, the Big Blue fell to Gloucester 28-32. Despite the loss, 25 Swampscott boys set season or lifetime personal bests on the Swampscott Cross-Country course, meaning that they simply did everything they could in an all out effort to attempt to defeat Gloucester.
Senior Peter Hale continued his undefeated run in the NEC by placing first in a time of 13:37 over the 2.65 mile course. Hale's time is a high school record for Swampscott students, and ties the overall record set by Peabody High's Nick Christensen in 2011. "It was very wet today, just like last week," reflected Hale after the race. "Many of us, all the seniors, as our last home course race really pushed it today."
Junior Matt Mahoney was not far behind, placing second in 13:49. Sophomore Robert McLaughlin, running his best race of the season, placed 7th in 15:36. Sophomore Bennett Smith (10th, 16:15), junior Marco Scibelli (13th, 16:37), junior Alex Balleza (14th, 16:45), and Noah Conti (16th, 16:50) all rounded out the varsity for the Big Blue and all ran personal bests.
The Gloucester Fishermen have a great cross-country team, and the Big Blue stepped up nobly to their challenge. The boys now stand at 4-2 overall (5-1 NEC South).
The Big Blue girls knew that a win against Gloucester would set up a nice dual-meet against a potentially undefeated Marblehead team next week. With three of the top eight runners sitting out due to sickness or nagging aches, the girls also needed depth runners to step up; the results include 25 Big Blue girls running seasonal or lifetime personal bests on the Swampscott cross-country course, just like the boys. Running in a heavier rain and a muddier course, the girls were unfazed and did everything in their power to walk away with a win. Freshman Isabella Kornitsky led the race from wire to wire, crossing the finish line first with a time of 17:45. The rain was nothing for Kornitsky, who said it didn't bother her. "I felt really good, even with the rain. Everyone stepped it up and filled in the gaps where our top runners are," Kornitsky said.
Another freshman, Miranda Nocera, placed 3rd overall with a time of 19:02. The Big Blue took the next few spots, with Abby O'Connor (5th, 19:42), Alyssa Mauriello (6th, 20:01), and Meg Mahoney (7th, 20:02) providing crucial depth against Gloucester. Michelle LaConte (9th, 20:21) and Caitlin Ludke (11th, 20:33) rounded out the scoring for the Big Blue; five out of those seven ran personal bests. Depth is proving to be beneficial to the girls, and with a return of some varsity runners to the lineup next week, the girls are expecting another big performance. The Big Blue girls now stand at 5-1 overall (5-0 NEC South). 
Many seniors took time after their races to reflect on four years worth of cross-country. Elena Feldman, who was one of the Big Blue runners to PR, recalled, "I did the best I've ever done! I've been working hard for four years and I'm so happy I ran cross-country!" For senior captains Emma Walsh and Steph Collins, their involvement with Big Blue XC goes back before their high school days. "We've been doing this together for seven years, because of our siblings from the Class of 2010," noted Collins. "It's definitely bittersweet," added Walsh, who unfortunately has a sprained ankle and was unable to run. In thinking back over four years, many runners realized how vastly they have improved. "I remember when I was a freshman, and I ran 24:20. Today I ran 17:01," remarked senior Jake Powell. "I PR'd by 1:10 today," added senior Chris Dandreo, who is in his first season running cross-country.
But perhaps the best description of cross-country could be found in the words from senior Meg Wynne, who has run all four years for the Big Blue. "I think cross-country is really important because it's not about coming in first," she said after the race. "It's about being yourself and knowing that it's good enough, and working with the strength of a team."


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