While she’s been a key runner for the Brookline girls’ cross-country team the last few years. Lucia Werner has never had the opportunity to feel what it’s like to win a statewide meet.
On a cool and overcast Saturday morning at the Frank Kelley Invitational. it was the talented senior’s time to shine. It was her day to take center stage.
In the closing stages of the race, Werner broke away from a small pack en route to a victory in the featured Championship race. She covered the five-kilometer terrain at Wrentham in a PR of 18 minutes, 21.9 seconds. The Warrior standout finished nearly five seconds ahead of Holliston’s Maggie Kuchman, who was timed in 18:26.3 for second. Aoife Shovlin of Cambridge Rindge & Latin and Whitinsville Christian freshman Emily Flagg were third and fourth, respectively, with identical times of 18:34.1.
Werner let loose once she made the right-hand turn onto the horseshoe loop, about 400 meters from the finish.
“It looked like no one was going for a final surge, so I was like, ‘Okay, I have nothing to lose. It’s my senior year,” she said. “I’ve never won one of these before. so I might as well be the one to do it this time.”
Werner, who was tenth at Division 1A Championships, is off to a great start to her fall campaign. At the beginning of the month, she won a head-to-head battle with Needham’s Greta Hammer in a league meet that also included Milton. Hammer, a recent winner at the Manchester (NH) Invitational, was second in the Div. 1 race of last year’s Meet of Champions.
That performance added to Werner’s confidence that a victory at the Kelley Invite was possible.
“She’s such as great competitor,” she said. “I knew about her last year. She made a big impact on the league. I wasn’t 100 percent sure she was going to be in the race because it was the first race of the season. Once my coach told me she was there, I approached it differently. I just wanted to stick with her and see what happens.”
With this being her final year of cross country and track, the Brookline harrier has a different approach for her last hurrah than previous years.
“I have been at this for a while. I’ve had my ups and downs in the sport,” she said. “Like I’ve been saying, I have never came out on top in a statewide invitational. I wasn’t going into this race thinking I need to win or I’m going to win. If the opportunity presents itself, I have nothing to lose with it being my senior year.”
In the team competition, Cambridge Rindge & Latin came out on top with 56 points. In addition to Shovlin, the Falcons’ Eliza Dickie also cracked the top 10, taking eighth overall in 18:59.6.
Greater Lowell Tech’s Devin Moreau was a dominant victor in the boys’ Championship race, crossing the finish line in a time of 15:27.7. Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Paulino Guevara Mateo was second at 15:41.6. Groton Dunstable’s Neil Aradyha (third, 15:42.5) and CB&L’s Jacob Bronstein (fourth, 15:52.8) also broke 16 minutes.
“I felt amazing,” Moreau said. “It was my first fast race of the year so I felt kind of weird going that fast. Once I settled down, I felt amazing…At the end, it was a little tough being by myself without anyone to kick with. I know I could have run faster with someone there. I felt amazing.”
Moreau, a runner-up at the Div. 2A meet last year, ran with the lead pack for the first third of the race and took control with about two miles left.
“Once we got to around the mile marker, I felt like we were slowing down,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what? I guess I have to start taking it out.’ I’m glad I did.”
A noticable no-show at the meet was Northbridge’s Marcus Reilly, who was the only runner on the Rams’ roster that was entered for this weekend’s meet. The defending Div. 3A champion has a best of 15:24.8 at Wrentham, which he did to take the Frank Mooney Invitational in 2022.
Moreau admitted he changed his approach to Saturday’s race once he realized that Reilly wasn’t there.
“I didn’t think I was going to lead at all until the final stretch,” he said. “I knew just stick with him at the two-mile marker. I knew If i was with him at the two-mile mark, I was going to win. The goal there was to stay in second or third and make a play. Once I saw he wasn’t here, I just knew it was going to be mine to win.”
With three of its runners in the top seven, Cambridge Rindge & Latin swept the team titles in the Championship races. The Falcons defeated runner-up North Andover, 65-145. Groton Dunstable was third with 156 points. Following Mateo and Bronstein was teammate Gael Medina in seventh with a time of 16:05.1.