By JOE REARDON‘
WRENTHAM – Carmen Luisi will have a target on her back the next couple of weeks but it’s nothing new for the great Holliston runner. With the division championships just a week away, Luisi is running better than ever and should be a heavy favorite to defend her Div. 2 All-State title.
The competition will be tough, but taking on the best in the state is nothing new to Luisi, whose legend grows with every win.
It was more of the same for the elusive harrier on Saturday in the junior/senior small school race at the Frank Mooney Coaches Invitational.
Racing in dry, cool conditions, Luisi was 15 yards up on teammate and toughest competition Maggie Kuchman. Whitinsville Christian freshman Emily Flagg was also in tow through a 5:33 opening mile. Luisi, who edged out Kuchman at the Twilight Invitational, never faltered as she cruised over the 5K Wrentham Developmental Center course for the win in 18 minutes, 6 seconds. The tenacious Kuchman was a second back in 18:07 and Flagg was right on her tail at 18:08.7.
Luisi, who will attend Syracuse University, was not surprised the two harrier talents were dogging her over the rolling course.
“I could hear them and on some of the tight corners I’d look back and see them there,” said Luisi. “It just reminded me to keep running hard.”
Luisi will be back at Wrentham next Saturday for the divisional meet and she can’t wait to race again on her favorite course. Both the Holliston team and Luisi have titles to defend. “I love this course,” she said. “I can’t wait until next week.”
The race proved to be fairly deep with eight runners breaking 19 minutes and 12 under 20 minutes. Oxford’s Cameron Davis (18:29.8) and Georgia Brooks of Groton-Dunstable (18:37.4) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Westfield’s Megan Moran looked more than ready for the championship season as she ran away with the large senior race in 18:09.8 and defeated the tough Acton-Boxboro harriers in the process.
“I was really pushed,” said Moran, who likes to be at the front of the pack. “I was hoping to have a good race. It was perfect weather and a great course.”
Runner-up Paige McInerney of Acton-Boxboro ran aggressively from the gun and ran to a new personal best of 18:19.1. “I wanted to stay in the front pack and beat my personal best,” said McInerney, who will attend the University of Southern New Hampshire. “I felt strong. It was good to have her (Moran) push me.”
There may not have been a happier runner on the day than Acton-Boxboro’s Clementine Garro. Running in the junior race, Garro felt surprisingly fresh through a 5:58 opening mile. She was even with Westford Academy’s Rosy Deeks through 3000 meters before accelerating and pulling away for a 19:18.8 win. That time shattered her previous best of 20:08.
Garro gave credit to her teammates for getting the best performances out of her.
“My teammates have been pushing me hard through all our workouts,” said Garro. “I was suffering really bad near the end, but you can always push through it.’
Norton’s Ceecee Goodwin was looking for a high finish in the small school freshman race and she wound blitzing the field. The talented Goodwin, the Lancers’ No. 3 runner, pulled out to a 30-yard by the mile and led the rest of the way. She crossed the finish line of the 3K race in 11:55.1. Norwell eighth-grader Olivia Sowinski was second in 12:21.5 and Norfolk Agricultural’s MaKenna Laramee took third in 12:24.2.
Goodwin wasted little time making a move away from the field. “I was feeling good and decided I wanted to break away,” she said. “I could hear people cheering and thought I had to keep the lead. I’m hoping we can make it to All-States as a team.”
The Westford Academy duo of Abigail Hennessy and Emily Wedlake crossed the finish line together (Hennessy given the win in 19:23.4) in the large school sophomore race.
The pair were using the race as a tempo run and their pace put them to the front. “We went out pretty hard and I just tried to stay with Abigail,” said Wedlake.
Rose Kiley of Andover finished third in 19:55.9 and Lila Christy of Central Catholic and the early leader took fourth in 19:58.8.
The large school freshman race turned into a runaway as Westboro’s Regan Kittredge tore through the first mile in 5:50 and was never challenged. She finished in 11:42.9, ahead of second-place Isabella Miller of Central Catholic (12:22.7).
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” said Kittredge. “I saw there were some fast girls. I didn’t know how much of a lead I had, but it was a 3K and I wanted to go fast the whole way.”
Newton South’s Ilan Sherman-Kadish dashed across the finish line, easily winning the large school senior and made a bold prediction just minutes later, aimed at powerhouse Brookline.
“We’re going to win the All-State meet,” said Sherman-Kadish with not a hint of braggadocio in his voice. “We know they’re good, but we’re racing our best now. First and foremost I have to find Brookline’s top guy and beat him and I’d like to finish in the top five.”
Whether or not the Lions can take down Mike Glennon’s Warriors in two weeks at Devens remain to be seen, but it’s a good bet Sherman-Kadish will improve on his 25th-place finish from last year. He quickly moved away from the pack and crossed the finish line of the 5K Wrentham Developmental Center route in a quick 15:48.8. Teammate Liam Sakakeeny finished hard for second in 16:03.8 and Beverly’s Riley McGoldrick was third in 16:12.7.
The final tuneup before next Saturday’s divisional championship was run under perfect conditions: cool but not cold and not a hint of a breeze over the dry, rolling course.
Northbridge star Marcus Reilly was running a controlled effort in his first meet of the season and he looked fit. Running donned in a backwards New Balance cap, the University of Michigan commit looked smooth through an opening 4:49 mile in the small school junior/senior race on the way to an impressive 15:42.8 win. That put him well ahead of second-place finisher Grayson Duane of Groton-Dunstable (16:00.4) and Ezra Blasko of East Bridgewater (16:06.8).
“My training has been going good,” said Reilly. “I should be ready for the postseason. The plan was to feel out the competition for a mile. I was really happy with the time. It felt solid. I didn’t go out too hard so I was able to run comfortably.”
Beverly’s Calvin Barrett lost a shoe 200 yards into the large school junior race and instead of panicking, he quickly put his shoe back on started making up the 15 seconds he lost. He was in the middle of a huge lead pack through a 5:10 first mile and feeling strong. Barrett broke the field apart shortly after 2 miles when he let his momentum build a lead on a downhill. He coasted home for the win in 16:48.8.
“I thought ‘what is happening right now'” said Barrett when he lost his shoe. “I had no clue what was going to happen.”
By his own admission, Catholic Memorial’s Michael Upton doesn’t have a blazing kick at the end of races. The Knights’ harrier didn’t need one in the large school sophomore race as he pushed to a 16:49.9 win. Brian Peters of Bridgewater-Raynham took second in 16:58.2.
Running in a pack of six at 3k, Upton decided he had to make a move for the lead soon. “The first mile was easy and I was cruising the second mile,” said Upton. “I realized they were slowing down. I started to move up.”
Matteo Deorio of Saint John’s Prep is a runner who should be watched in the coming years. The freshman ran away with the large school freshman race with a time of 9:51.6, holding off second-place finisher Owen Geagan of B.C. High (9:55.1).
“I was thinking I couldn’t let him go by me,” said Deorio. “I had to keep running hard.”