The final four high school race of day at the Frank Kelley Invitational featured a trio of dominating performances by our winners, one of whom had limited footwear, and a very close race where the top four were separated by just over seconds.
Here’s a recap of those four races.
Freshmen/Sophomore Boys’ 3K
Sean Praham had two goals before this race. The first was to win it. His second was to hit a time in the 10:10 range. The Norton tenth-grader was far from that goal.
But in a good way.
Parham went out quick, hitting his first mile in under five minutes. From there, the Lancer runner carried the momentum to the finish line, which he crossed in a triumphant 9 minutes, 48.17 seconds. He was comfortably ahead of Nathan Gartner of Falmouth Academy, who was timed in 10:05.4 for second. Tewksbury’s Steven Oppedisano placed third at 10:10.9.
It didn’t take long for Parham to sense he was on to something special.
“I came through the first mile in 4:58 and I knew I could hold the pace from there,” he said. “I just kind of sensed it, and hoped for the best.”
Led by top finishes from Ryan Collins (eighth, 10:17.7) and Bradon Spiess (11th, 10:22.1), City of Boston took the team title, defeating runner-up Archbishop Williams, 112-148.
Freshmen/Sophomore Girls’ 3K
Trailing the lead pack throughout the race, Tea Pagnotti made sure her final move was the one that counted. With about 400 meters remaining, the Westwood sophomore forged to the front and then held off a fury of competitors down the stretch to win with a time of 11:34.1. Pagnotti edged Hamilton-Wenham freshman Grace Rich, who finished second at 11:35.0. Rich’s teammate, Asa Labell, another ninth-grader, was third in 11:38.0. She was just ahead of City of Boston frosh Sara Blanco, who clocked 11:38.9..
“I was just trying my best, just trying to kick,” Pagnotti said. “I didn’t really expect the outcome.”
With a trio of runners among the top 11, Bishop Fenwick easily claimed the team title, scoring just 48 points. City of Boston placed second with 101 points.
Junior/Senior Boys’ 3K
Leading up to the meet on Saturday. Isaac Gross wasn’t able to prepare for this race like he had wanted to after dealing with a sickness that limited his training throughout the week.
It didn’t seem to matter.
The Marblehead senior proved to be the fastest at the end, capturing indivdual gold with a time of 9:21.4, a sizable 16 seconds ahead of Bedford’s Jonathan Garraway (second, 9:37.2). Marblehead’s Nate Assa finished third in 9:47.8.
“I have been sick all week. I did not think I was going to do that well in the race,” said Gross, who last week won the Varsity 2 race at the Ocean State Invitational. “But, we did it! I’m right here! We’re here! I’m very happy.”
Marblehead also struck it rich in the team competition, scoring 59 points for the crown. Westwood secured second with 103 points.
Junior/Senior Girls’ 3K
Two shoes, one shoe. It didn’t matter for Marietta O’Connell.
The Marblehead sophomore suffered what proved to be a slight mishap as she was leading the field near the midway point of this race.
“My shoe got untied really early and it just slipped off at the mile,” she said.
Despite the limited footwear, O’Connell didn’t missed a beat, cruising to the individual title with a time of 10:51.2. Whitinsville Christian’s Abby Flagg, who was battling up front with the Marblehead runner in the early stages, solidified the runner-up spot in 11:10.2. Medfield’s Elia Kane was third at 11:43.5.
O’Connell was coming off a tenth-place finish in the Championship race of the Ocean State Invitational on Oct. 22 where she ran a PR of 18:28.6. The Division 1C runner-up last year has a lofty goal by season’s end.
“I want to break 18 minutes, which is a really difficult goal,” she said. “I’m getting close. My fastest 5K is an 18:28, so I’m sort of close.”
Newburyport survived a close one in the team competition. With their No. 4 and No. 5 runners proving crucial in the outcome, the Clippers were able get by Medfield, 53-63.