Who made the cut?
Again, we’ve asked for your input in helping us determine our top 10 list for our X-C Previews. This time we’re featuring the teams that should be listed among our best this season.
In this preview, we feature the boys’ squads. Below is our list from No. 5 to No. 1 based on your feedback from emails and Instagram as well as our our own prognosis.
No. 5 – Natick
While the Redhawks have lost their No. 1 runner, Ben Feldman, to graduation, the remaining six are coming back. That’s good news for Natick, which was 11th overall as a team in Division 1A with an average of 16:36 among its varsity. We predict a big improvement this fall on that placement. Returning this season are sub 17-minute guys – senior Nick Bianchi, sophomore John Bianchi, and senior Jacob Tobin. Also coming back is senior Sean Fleming, senior Brian Arthur and junior Joe Vogel. Bianchi has a best of 16:15 from the divisionals. He followed his cross-country season with a strong year on the track that included PRs of 4:23 for the mile and 1:58 for the 800m.
No. 4 – Boston Latin School
From graduation, the Wolfpack lost their top two from last year’s Meet of Champions, David Rivkin and Dennis Satchek. Nonetheless, a solid five with be returning with senior Ethan Anderson, senior Colin Fisher, junior Bilal Elhaji, senior Liam Fitzgibbon and junior Brendan Nolan expected to compete this fall. Look for a possible breakthrough season from Fisher, who was 31st at the Division 1A meet last year with a best of 16:15.37 for the 5K distance. During the outdoor season, Fisher had the race of his career at the Div. 2 championships where he clocked a huge PR of 9:13.55 to win the two mile. At the New Balance Nationals, he chopped more than three seconds off his PR in the mile with a 4:18.55. With times like these, he’s capable of running well under 16 minutes with the right kind of race and course. Keep an eye on Fisher individually, too. Other top returnees are senior Ethan Anderson, junior Rilal Elhaji, junior Brendan Nolan and senior Liam Fitzgibbon. Along with Fisher, Anderson, Elhaji, and Riykin all went sub-17 at the divisionals where BLS was seventh overall.
No. 3 – Newton South
Most of you predicted the Lions among the top-3, so that’s where we’re going to put them. Last year, Newton South was ninth in Div. 1A and 11th overall at the MOC. What was impressive with this squad last year is the gap between its 1-5 was a mere 28 seconds at the divisionals. Only team champion, Brookline, was better at 24 seconds. Essentially, the top five will all be back with a year more of experience. That could spell trouble for most of its competitors this season. That quintet includes senior Ilan Sherman-Kadish, junior Alex Friedman, senior Liam Sakakeeny, senior Alon Mileguir and senior Nathan Hamilton. All five ran times between 16:11 and 16:39 at the 1A meet.
No. 2 – Westford Academy
We have Westford Academy here, but it could very well be at No. 1. The Ghosts were second in the Div. 1 race at MOC and third overall at the 1A meet a week earlier. They also took top honors in the Championship race at the Marathon Sports/HOKA Ocean State Invitational in R.I., a meet where it will defend its title in a few more weeks. From that squad, five will be back this season, including its’ top three, senior Paul Bergeron, junior Jack Graffeo and senior Davis Haines. The name that sticks out here is Bergeron, who was our individual titlist at the MOC and, along with Framingham’s Sam Burgess, smashed the course and meet record at Wrentham at the divisionals where he was timed in a PR of 14:43.74. Bergeron, a Stanford signee and an 8:52 two-miler, and Graffeo, might have the strongest 1-2 punch in the state. Graffeo was fourth at the division meet and eight at the MOC with a best of 15:16. Other top returnees are junior Oliver Haines, senior Adam Wedlake and junior Nathan Dubay. Haines went 16:01 at IA and Wedlake is a sub-17 guy, too.
No. 1 – Brookline
Just about everyone picked the Warriors for this No. 1 spot and so did we at BSR. Brookline captured the Div. 1A crown and Div. 1 title at the MOC last fall and will have most of its top guns back. including the senior tandem of Kailas Ciatto and Ben Kasen, who were the Warriors’ 1-2 runners in 2022. Both were sub-16 runners last year and are expected to pick up where they left off for their final season. The remaining three returnees – junior Lysander Duffield, senior P Tejedor Meyers and senior Argi Protopapadakis – are all capable of running in the mid 16-minute range, possibly faster, based in what they did last year. Pack mentality will certainly be in their favor this year on the trails.