The New England Championships are here. It’s the final stop for most of our athletes this winter and the last tune-up before the nationals the following week for others. Throughout the week, Bay State Running will be previewing all the individual events for Saturday’s competition at the Reggie Lewis Center. Below, we feature the girls’ middle & long distance events.
Say good-bye to the meet record. Say good-bye to the six-year-old mark of 2:48.25 by not only one, but possibly two, runners this weekend. Without question, the runner we expect will be be the sole owner of former Bedford (NH) standout Leya Salis’s 2017 mark is multiple All American Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown. The Quaker senior, one of our nation’s top middle-distance stars, will be utilizing Saturday’s race as a final tune-up before next weekend’s Nike Indoor Nationals where she’s favored to claim gold in the 800m. Along with four other events this winter, Gorriaran is the fastest runner in the country in the 1K with her state and New England mark of 2:39.83 from the Dr. Sanders Invitational in NYC in late January. Will the Harvard signee run all-out this weekend? We’re predicting she’ll run hard enough to win, hard enough to eclipse the record. She’s also entered in the 4x400m where the Quakers are the top seed with a best of 3:59.84. Who’s the other runner in the field we feel can run sub 2:50 and challenge Salis’s record? That would be Newton South’s Amelia Everett. The Lions senior was dominant in the 1K at this past weekend’s MIAA Meet of Champions where she clocked an all-time best of 2:51.60. She’s eyeing a possible school record at Saturday’s meet. The current mark is 2:47.61 by former star alum Clare Martin from 2016. Stanford sophomore and multiple state champion Lucy Jenks is at No. 2 for Newton South with a best of 2:48.97. Everett certainly has proven she’s capable of joining that group. With Gorriaran expected to be pushing the pace up front, a school mark would seem possible. Like the MB runner, Everett will also be using this weekend’s race as tune-up for the upcoming New Balance Nationals where she will be among the top seeds in the 800m. Look for the remaining spots on the podium to be highly-contested with at least six to eight others capable of breaking three minutes on the Reggie Lewis oval. Some of those top entries are sophomore LIv Sherry of Conard (CT), Esme Daplyn of Greenwich (CT), Ashlynn Witt of Wachusett (MA), Julia Blake of Darien (CT), Bria Benigni of Maloney (CT)and Carmen Luisi of Holliston (MA).
Could this come down to a two-person race at the end? Perhaps. The field is deep for tis weekend’s race with a dozen that have gone under 5:10 this season. But the two that stick out the most are our 1-2 seeds, Camille Jordan of Brookline (MA) and Katherine Bohike of Newington (CT). They’re the only runners that have dipped under five minutes this season with Jordan clocking 4:57.24 to capture the individual title at the recent MIAA Meet of Champions and Bohike, the State Open champion, racing to a PR of 4:57.56 at The Armory Hispanic Games in early January. If this race is close towards the end, Jordan may hold the edge. She’s the quickest in the field with 2:11 speed for 800m and a 2:53 best for the 1K. She also has a 1;36 to her credit for the 600m. Brookline’s Jordan Liss-Riordan is the No. 3 seed after clocking a huge PR of 5:03.84 to finish second to her teammate at the MOC. A few others we expect to be challenging with our lead pack is Conard (CT) sophomore Tess Sherry (5:04.31), Oliver Ames (MA) junior Kate Sobieraj (5:04.31), Wilbur Cross (CT) junior Anna Omelchenko (5:04.64) and Newton North (MA) sophomore Ciara Evans (5:05.55), just to name a few. A dark horse in this race could be Rylee Shunney of East Greenwich. Shunney ran a season best of 4:45.28 to place second in the 1,500m at the RI state meet less than two weeks ago. She owns an all-time best of 4:37.82 for the metric mile from last spring’s Class C Championship. After a slow start by her standards, Shunney has come on strong late in the season. It wouldn’t surprise us to see her in the mix this weekend.
We’re expecting a competitive race in the 15-lapper. The favorite nod goes to Shelton (CT) junior Hannah AndrejczyK. She has a PR of 10:42.93, a time that ranks No. 4 all-time in CT. She recently won the State Open with an equally impressive 10:46.66, and on Monday raced to a best of 4:55.28 for the mile at the Ocean Breeze Invitational in NYC. AndrejczyK. appears to be peaking at just the right time to prosper this weekend. But don’t think it will be easy for the talented junior to win this weekend. There’s a few others that can make things interesting, including a trio from her own backyard – Old Lyme’s Chase Gilbert (10:50.83 PR), Cheshire’s Alexa Ciccone (10:54.31 best), and Glastonbury’s Kelley MacElhinney (11:00.60 best). We’re also not counting out Reese Fahys of East Greenwich (RI), too. The Avenger senior, a two-time state cross-country champion in the Ocean State, had been dealing with injuries over the last year. She proved at the State Meet that it may all be behind her with a solid victory and time of 10:16 for the 3K. Her all-time best for the distance is 9:56, which converts to about a 10:43 for the deuce. Is she ready to run that quick this weekend, an effort that could certainly make her a contender for the title? We’re not really sure. Either way, she still should be battling for a solid placement on the podium based on what she did at the states.