(Photo by Byron Flagg)
Prior to Saturday’s MIAA Meet of Champions, we predicted that the boys’ two mile could be the can’t-miss event of the meet. With three of some of our state’s top distance runners answering the gun – defending champion Sam Burgess, Westford Academy’s Paul Bergeron and St. John’s Prep’s Nathan Lopez – we predicted it could be epic.
They didn’t disappoint! Epic, it certainly was.
The trio broke from the chase pack early and never let up. Separated by mere strides for most of the 16-lap race, Burgess broke from his rivals with 600-meter remaining and held the lead until the finish, crossing the line in a superlative 8 minutes, 59.27 seconds. Lopez secured second with an all-time best of 9:01.32. Bergeron was third at 9:04.07, a PR by more than seven seconds! All three moved up in the national rankings by taking over the fourth, fifth and sixth spots.
Lopez admitted after the race that the plan was to utilize each other’s talents in making the race a classic and possibly taking a shot at the state record of 8:49.60, set in 1999, by former Lynn Voke standout Franklin Sanchez. It was something that was first discussed down in San Diego where all three competed at the Champs Sports X-C Nationals, just a few week after going 1-2-3 at All States, a race won by Bergeron with Burgess and Lopez right behind.
“We’ve been talking about this for a little while,” Lopez said. “Honestly, since we were out at nationals for cross country we even mentioned it, running something really fast and maybe the state record. I don’t know if based off of today if we can get that record. But we gave it a shot. We talked all week about getting it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that, but with that we were able to get a few really good times. I’m happy with that.”
A dream match-up between Newton South’s Amelia Everett and Brookline’s Camille Jordan in the 1,000-meter run never happened as Jordan scratched from the event to focus on the mile. Both runners earned impressive, and convincing victories, in their specialities. The Lions’ Everett took the lead before the first lap was complete, and despite a hard-fought effort from eventual runner-up Macey Shriner of Plymouth North, won by nearly four seconds with a PR and state best of 2:51.60. Shriner finished with state No. 3 of 2:55.55, a best by three seconds.
In the mile, Jordan pushed the pace from the beginning and coasted to a PR and sub-5 clocking of 4:57.23. Teammate Jordan Liss-Riordan was second at 5:03.84..
“My goal for the race was to kind of go out in 2:30,” Jordan said. “I think I did a good job of doing that. I think my 800 (meter) time was 2:31. I then wanted to see if I can pick it up for the last 800 and see what I could do and try and get under five minutes. I am happy with the way it went. I ran 4:57, which is my PR. I think it went really well.”
“Every time I race against Camille it’s so much fun,” Liss-Riordan added, “I knew she was going to take it out hard. My goal was to try and be with her, try and be with the top pack. I knew if I could do that, I could run a pretty good time.”
In an exciting race that came down to the last stretch, Newton North’s Tyler Tubman captured the mile with a time of 4:17.08. After being passed by North Andover’s Ryan Connolly late in the tace, Tubman came on strong at the end and edged past Connolly with just a few meters left in the race. The North Andover senior crossed the line in 4:17.19 for second. Acton Boxborough’s William Lu was right behind in third at 4:17.63. Six runners in the field broke 4:20.
Pembroke swept the 55m dash with Sarah Clafin capturing the girls’ race and Andrew Gleason winning the boys’ crown. The two sprinters each encountered close battles to the finish with Claiffin holding off Concord-Carlisle’s Julienne Werner by one thousandth of a second with both timed in 7.12. Gleason broke the tape in 6.45 with Wellesley’s Christopher Brooks taking second at 6.46.
Concord-Carlisle’s Obu Akubude was the meet’s only double-winner with victories in the 55m hurdles (8.31) and the 300m (39.65).
Jacob Cookinham, the nation’s top shot-putter, continued his dominance inside the circle with heave of 66 feet, 0.25 inches. Parker Charter’s Theo Puterbaugh was second with a distance of 54-8.5. In the girls’ shot, Bishop Feehan’s Brooke Serak came out on top with a toss of 41-8.25. Lowell’s Ronnie Jones took the silver at 40-3.75.