“It felt good today,” Holliston coach James Murphy said. “Obviously we were in a tough spot because I think we had the worst possible situation in the game because it was raining when we started. But the team performed as expected [and] as they hoped. “
Holliston played the first race of the day when the morning rain was the most consistent. Luisi won in 18:34.99 with Maggie Kuchman (18:57.37) third and Annabelle Lynch (19:15.75) sixth. Given the weather, Murphy found the Panthers’ performance to be admirable.
“Conditions aren’t ideal, but it’s off-road and it’s November, so we know we have to control what we can control, and everyone’s in the same conditions,” she said. “So we went out and executed.”
The Panthers won a preview of the Devensburg Field at the Bay State Invitational, which will become the state championship stage. But the hills will be reduced for next Saturday’s game after officials made adjustments to the course. Holliston didn’t have the fastest team play in the state qualifiers, and the Panthers believe they have untapped potential.
“It’s the perfect time for them to come to the states,” Murphy said. “We knew today wasn’t our fastest time. We knew there was more in the tank, so it was exciting.”
Holliston is the favorite, but Whittingsville Christian should be a close contender. The Crusaders combined for 35 points in their dominant win in Division 2C, thanks to a solo victory by eighth-grade standout Abby Flagg (18:47.04). Amherst-Pelham won 2A thanks to a solo victory by senior Tamar Byl-Brann.
On the boys side, Burlington (71 points) proved it was the Division 2 team to beat. Dynamic senior duo Rithikh Prakash (15:45.26) and Eric Sekyaya (15:59.85) finished third and fourth respectively to lead the Red Devils in 2A. Adam Balewicz of Nashoba won in 15:25.98.
Falmouth senior Henry Gartner set the fastest time of the day with his 15:19.25 lead by almost a minute in the 2B race. Holliston (136 points) finished second behind Groton-Dunstable (94) and qualified for the state conference for the first time since 1993.
Norwell edged out Triton (74) and Dover-Sherborn (103) with 63 points to 2C. Clippers junior Thomas Corbett led the field with a winning time of 16:10.97.
Uxbridge’s Aidan Ross and Northbridge’s Marcus Reilly should take part in the statewide individual showdown. Ross (16:00.96) set the fastest time of the day at Gardner Municipal Golf Course to win the boys’ 3B qualifier, while Riley (16:11.87) finished first in 3A. Lenox senior Dennis Love (16:48.85) won the Division 3C competition (16:48.85).
Norfolk Aggie Junior Madelyn Germain continued her stellar season with a 19:53.35 run in the Women’s Triple-A. Ella Dunbury of East Bridgewater finished second to German in the state pro game with a 3B victory in 20:23.39. Bromfield’s Evelyn Wool (19:59.61) won the 3C.
Both of Weston’s teams had their signature days. The Wildcat Boys took advantage of Carsen Valenta’s third (17:20.56) to take the team victory in Triple-A with 74 points. Alessandra Gavris (20:25.04) used her second-place effort in the Women’s Triple-A event to lead Weston (38 points) to a dominant victory.