Throughout the week, Bay State Running will take a quick look at some of our top teams and individuals that will be competing at this weekend’s divisional state championships. Here we feature the Division 2A, 2B and 2C girls’ races that will take place at the Wrentham Developmental Center.
At Wrentham Developmental Center
Day/Time: Saturday/11:45 a.m.
Teams: Brockton, Greater New Bedford, Leominster, Essex North Shore Agric. & Tech, Revere, Southeastern Reg., Bristol Plymouth, Shawsheen Valley Tech, Lynn Classical, Whittier RVT, Greater Lawrence, Blackstone Valley Regional, Tantasqua Regional, Boston Latin Academy, Northeast Metro Reg. Voc., Masconomet Regional, Plymouth South, Silver Lake, Stoughton, South High Community, Walpole, Whitman-Hanson Regional, Dartmouth, Assabet Valley Regional, Minnechaug Regional, Norwood, Agawam, Westwood, Duxbury, Somerset Berkley Regional, Putnam Voc./Tech, Marblehead, Fitchburg, Holyoke
Teams To Watch: Walpole, Minnechaug, Westwood
Outlook: The overwhelming favorite in this race is Marblehead’s Marri O’Connell. The gifted sophomore captured the individual title at the Northeastern Conference Championships less than two weeks ago where she coasted to a time of 18:25 over 2.97 miles. O’Connell had her best race of the season at the Twilight Invitational back on Oct. 13 where she placed third in the Small School race with a PR of 17:48. The Magician standout, who was recently named the NEC Runner of the Year, is more than a minute faster than her closest rivals on Saturday based on results this season – Walpole’s Ila Zollo and Norwood’s Natalie Martin. Zollo was 12th at the recent Bay State Conference Championships at Wrentham, clocking a respectable 19:26.8. Martin ran 19:15.17 at the Frank Kelley Invitational earlier in the season.
Walpole and Minnechaug Regional appear to be the class of the field and the more-likely candidates in the running for the team title.
Day/Time: Saturday/1:15 p.m.
Teams: Longmeadow, Shepherd Hill, Melrose, Canton, Grafton, Northampton, Nashoba Regional, Burlington, Chelsea, Scituate, Middleboro, Dracut, Amherst-Pelham, Wayland, Wakefield-Memorial, Bedford, Ludlow, Marlborough, Holliston, East Longmeadow, Ashland, Burncoat, Nauset Regional, Tewksbury, Danvers, Pembroke, Newburyport, Falmouth, North Middlesex, Foxboro
Teams To Watch: Wakefield Memorial, Holliston, Northampton, Nashoba, Longmeadow
Outlook: Carmen Luisi will be looking to finish off her outstanding career at Holliston on a high note the next few weeks and that appears inevitable for the state’s No. 1 runner. The Panther senior begins her quest for supremacy this weekend where she’s favored to capture her third divisional state crown. In her final tune-up for Saturday’s meet, the Syracuse-bound harrier won the Frank Mooney Coaches Invitational with a time of 18:06.90 at Wrentham. She was just ahead of teammate Maggie Kuchman, who could also be battling for the crown. Both runners went sub-17:50 at the Twilight Invitational with a 1-2 finish in the Small School race. The tandem also took the top two spots at the Tri-Valley League Championships on Oct. 28 where Luisi was timed in 17:48.30 for the win and Kuchman crossed the line at 18:00.30. We also expect Nashoba’s Caroline Collins and Canton ninth-grader Lauren Raffetto to be in the mix. Both had their best efforts of the season at Twilight with Collins placing fifth in the Medium School race at 18:12.01 and Raffetto taking sixth in the same race at 18:14.08. We could get a big race from Northampton’s Maeve O’Neil, too. She had a strong effort at the Mooney Invite this past weekend where he posted a time of 18:48.20 to finish sixth overall. There’s also Wakefield’s Lily Sailee, who won the Middlesex League Championships with a best of 18:39.69.
Holliston appears primed to make it a three-peat this weekend with Luisi, Kuchman and junior Annabelle Lynch, a top-7 hopeful, leading the way. Wakefield should pose the biggest threat to the Panthers, and a legit one. The Warriors are a more close-knit bunch with the gap between its one through five, or even six, considerably less than their rivals. After Sailee, Wakefield’s next best is junior Grace Brackett, who ran 19:47.88 at the league championships. The next four varsity runners at that meet clocked between 20:07.08 and 20:36.39. With PR performances at Wrentham, we could see a reversal of fortunes this weekend with a new team hoisting the hardware.
Day/Time: Saturday/2:45 p.m..
Teams: Medfield, Gloucester, Chicopee, Hanover, Groton-Dunstable, Auburn, Apponequet Regional, Watertown, Wilmington, Dighton-Rehoboth, Dedham, Old Rochester, Norton, Martha’s Vineyard, Dover-Sherborn, Bishop Stang, Ursuline Academy, Archbishop Williams, Cardinal Spellman, Bishop Fenwick, Saint Mary’s, Fontbonne Academy, Saint Paul Diocesan, Pope Francis, Arlington Catholic, Lowell Catholic, Notre Dame Academy – Worcester, Notre Dame Cristo Rey, Saint John Paul II, Cristo Rey, Mount Alvernia, Whitinsville Christian, Bishop Connolly, Falmouth Academy, Saint Mary’s – Westfield, South Lancaster Academy, Riverview, South Shore Christian Academy
Teams To Watch: Whitinsville Christian, Wilmington, Medfield, Dover Sherborn
Outlook: Individually, this race has at least three or four harriers that are capable of breaking 19 minutes this weekend. The favorite nod goes to Whitinsville Christian freshman Emily Flagg, who appears ready to keep the title in the family after twin sister Abby Flagg captured the crown as an eighth-grader in 2022. Abby Flagg has had a breakthrough season this fall, one that’s included a fourth-place finish at the Frank Mooney Invitational, a victory in the Small School race at the Twilight Invitational, top honors at the Dual Valley Conference Championships and a third-place showing at this past weekend’s Frank Mooney Coaches Invitational where she clocked a 5K best of 18:08.70.. She will be tough to beat, but it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing for the Crusader standout. Groton Dunstable’s Georgia Brooks could make things interesting if she has her best effort this weekend. She was fifth at the Mooney Invite with an all-time best of 18:37.40. The UMass-Lowell commit also went sub-19 at Twilight (18:49.93) and was a runner-up at the Mid-Wach League Championships. Whitinsville’s Emma Wierenga, Dover Sherborn’s Margaret Bowles and Medfield’s Ella Kane have also broken 19 minutes this season and should be battling for those top spots.
In the team competition, the Crusaders are the class of the field with the ability to get their top five across the line before most of their rivals’ fourth. Wilmington, Medifield and Dover Sherborn appear evenly matched and could be close in those other top positions.