By JOE REARDON
Barnstable’s Ava Bullock has enough experience and race savvy to know not to panic when a crisis arises during a race.
As the favorite in the girls Varsity B race at Saturday’s Bay State Invitational, the talented junior was tripped up at the gun and went down hard. Instead of running from the front, Bullock was forced to work her way through the pack before taking the lead and bolting across the finish line with a very satisfying win in 19 minutes, 22 seconds on the 3.1-mile Willard Park layout in Devens.
Bullock last competed on the course in November when she finished eighth in the Div. 1 All-State Championships and will be looking for a big leap when the meet returns to Devens in two months.
Bullock was her usual upbeat self after the satisfying win. “I got tripped at the start,” she said. “I was behind at first and was saving myself for the hills. I opened it up on the downhills.”
Bullock was 15 seconds behind the leaders the first mile, but successfully closed in on the leaders over the spongy, rolling course. “I started to pick it up with 800 to go and really sprinted at the end,” Bullock said.
She had a comfortable lead over runner-up Bridget Reidy of Wellesley, who finished in 19:32.4. Abigail Kelly of Newburyport ran a gutsy race, leading for much of the way, and hung on for third in 19:33.9. Elise Kempf of Arlington was fourth in 19:35.6 and Wellesley’s Audrey Fitzpatick was fifth in 19:46.3.
Arlington, with five runners in the top 20, edged out Wellesley for the team championship with 40 points. The Raiders also had five harriers among the top 20 and finished with 45 points.
Boston Latin School’s harriers altered their racing blueprint and still came away with a commanding team title and individual winner in the Varsity B race.
Hanging back in the early portion of the race, the Wolfpack let Norwell’s Thomas Corbett push the pace by himself. It was Colin Fisher, a 9:13 2-miler, who made the decisive move and surged past Corbett with 800 to go for the 16:4.7 win. The talented Clipper harrier finished strong in 16:12.4. Boston Latin absolutely dominated the competition by putting five runners in the top 10, finishing with just 23 points.
Fisher was patient before making his final move and made sure it was a strong surge. “I picked it up going into the second lap and made a big move down the hill,” he said.
Corbett was pleased he was able to carry out his pre-race strategy of running hard at the gun and taking the race to the competition.
“In terms of racing I went out where I wanted,” Corbett said. “It was definitely a slow down from the mile to two mile, but I’m happy with second.”
Brookline’s depth was more for any team to match in the Varsity C event and the Warriors showed just why they are the top-ranked team in Massachusetts and one of the best in the country. Mike Glennon’s squad ran in a pack and put up 23 points for the victory.
Ethan Sholk of Lincoln-Sudbury was trailing late in the race but used his 1:57.05 800 speed to pass Brookline’s Kailas Ciatto for an impressive 15:50.6 win. The Warrior harrier was a step back in 15:51.1. Brookline’s Ben Kasen also dipped under 16 minutes with his 15:54.9 for third.
Sholk’s 1:57.05 800 speed made the difference at the finish. “I was trying to tell myself I could outkick them in the last 800,” he said. “I ran here at states last year and I wanted to run well today. As long as I’m with the leaders (at the end) it’s over.”
Greater Lowell’s Devin Moreau will head to next Saturday’s Twilight Invitational with consecutive wins at the Frank Kelley Invitational and the Varsity A race. Moreau’s time of 15:32.7 was the fastest of the day.
Moreau, who said he is looking to racing Northbridge’s enormously talented Marcus Reilly this fall, broke from the five-runner pack shortly before a 4:43 opening mile, a time that felt slow to the talented harrier. “I felt comfortable,” he said. “I thought we were going slow so I wanted to take it over. I knew if I made a move and no one came with me I was winning it.”
Led by Henry Jacobsen in third (16:11.4) Parker Charter had five runners in the top 15 to take the team title with 44 points.Andover’s Claire Demersseman dominated the Varsity A race with a decisive 19:49 winner. Her teammate Rose Kiley was a distant second to claim the silver medal in 20:19. Archbishop Williams’ talented harrier, Maddie Hussey, rounded out the top three in 20:27.3.
Demersseman wasn’t confident in winning, instead deciding to run in the lead pack and see how the race played out. The front group was down to four runners at two miles when Demersseman surged away from the pack and continued to lengthen her lead.
“I tried to take the lead on the second lap,” said Demersseman. “It feels amazing. I didn’t have high expectations because everyone here is amazing.”