Vineyard XC Invite: Girls’ Title Belongs To Crusaders

PHOTOS by Byron Flagg

MARTHA’S VINEYARD – With two-time champion Holliston still strong this season, Whitinsville Christian coach Chris Vander Bann is well aware it will be a tall order to dethrone the Panthers in Division 2 once the championship season rolls around in a few months.

“They’re just so deep and they’re so well coached,” he said. “I don’t say that kiddingly. We’re young and we don’t have the depth that we’ve had in the past, but we’re trying to develop it and we got ten weeks to see what we can come up with.”

The Crusaders, ranked No. 3 in the preseason MSTCA X-C Coaches Poll, showcased their talent (and youth) at Saturday’s 16th annual Vineyard X-C Invitational. With three among the top seven, Whitinsville Christian beat runner-up Ledyard (CT) in the featured Varsity race, 66-91. Notre Dame Academy was third with 96 points.

Freshman Abby Flagg led the Crusaders by placing second overall in 19:19.6. Junior teammates Emma Wierenga was fifth (19:46.50) and Emelyn DeWeerd finished seventh (20:26.61). W-C’s Emily Flagg, twin sister of Abby, won the Freshman 3K in 11:26.6. She was sixth overall in the Co-Ed race

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With the Flagg siblings, Wierenga and DeWeerd leading the way, Vander Bann is looking forward to what’s instore this fall.

It’s kind of exciting,” he said. “(Right now) we’re focused on getting to November.”

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Flagg, who was the Division 2A winner last year as an eighth-grader, was satisfied with her effort. For the first half of the race, she was up front with eventual champion Rory Sullivan of Saint Raphael Academy. The Saints’ senior was able to pull away during the final 1.5 miles to take the crown where she was timed in 18:50.03.

“I am just happy to get a good time in at the beginning of the season,” said Flagg, who had a best of 18:27.10 last year from the Bob McIntyre Twilight Invitational. “I finished with a pretty good time last season. I am looking to surpass that and have a fun season.”

Despite her success from 2022-23, the Crusaders’ gifted underclassmen is taking a new approach this fall.

“I really just have to kind of learn how to race more,” she said. “Last year, I just went out on a limb. In eight grade, I just kind of raced for my life. This year, I’m kind of learning how to pace myself and just be a smart racer.”

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In addition to the W-C’s harriers, also placing among the top 10 were Woburn’s Sinead Butler (third, 19:26.98). Plymouth North’s Macey Shriner (fourth, 19:32.11), North Attleboro’s Katie Galgoczy (sixth, 20:16.38), Martha’s Vineyard’s Alexa Schroeder (eighth, 20:35.39), Ledyard’s Kate Littler (ninth, 20:39.91) and Hingham’s Clare Lowther (tenth, 21:00.65).

Norwell’s Thomas Corbett was the top Bay Stater in the boys’ race, taking second overall in 16:33.28. Plymouth North’s Noah Brilliant (sixth, 16:56.0), Saint John’s Tommy Robinson (seventh, 16:56.80), Whitinsville’ Christian’s Justin Vos (eighth, 17:04.28), and Boston Public School’s Adam Ayed (ninth, 17:11.23) were among top-10 finishers. As a team, BPS was third with 124 points. Barrington (RI) captured the team title with 58 points, 47 points ahead of runner-up Ledyard (CT).

Notre Dame Academy went 1-2-3 in the JV race with Adair Ruth taking top spot with a time of 22:51. She was followed by teammates Kaitlyn Oravitz (second, 23:10.23) and Caroline Hagerty (third, 23:11.11). NDA scored just 18 points, comfortably ahead of second-place Barrington with 73 points.

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PHOTOS by Byron Flagg

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