The early forecast for Saturday’s Meet of Champions is showing a more than 50-percent chance of rain for most of day and the temperature in the 50-degree range. Not exactly ideal for racing, but manageable. After all, this is cross country. What runners and teams do we feel will be able to weather the storm this weekend with the quality of competition that’s making the trip to Fort Devens?
Here’s our preview of the Division 3 boys’ and girls’ races.
Time: 11 a.m.
Title Hunt: Parker Charter, Weston, Hamilton Wenham, Greater Lowell Tech
Runners To Watch: Timothy Rank, Littleton; Marcus Reilly, Northbridge; Henry Jacobsen, Parker Charter, Devin Moreau, Greater Lowell Tech;
Outlook: At last year’s meet, no one was touching Uxbridge’s Aidan Ross, who claimed the title by 35 seconds with his winning time of 15:06.45. It should be closer this weekend, a lot closer. Ross has since graduated and now competes at Wake Forest. On Saturday, a few returnees from that race, and a little more, will make this one interesting to the end. Rank and Reilly, who went 1-2 in Div. 3B this past weekend, are expected to be battling up front. Rank won the divisional state meet in 15:57 by nearly 30 seconds over Reilly. We don’t expect that to happen this week with the Northbridge star, who was second in this race last year. We weren’t able to get to Northfield Mountain last weekend for the Div. 3 meet, but we’re guessing that Moreau held back to conserve some energy for this weekend’s race. Moreau won the Div. 3A title with a time of 16:35.45, 18 seconds ahead of Norwell’s Thomas Corbett. The UMass-Lowell commit has proven to us he’s capable of a lot faster, especially when the competition is tight like we’re anticipating on Saturday. Look for Jacobsen to try and contend with our leaders, too. He was the 3C titlist with a solid 16:28.49 clocking at Northfield. If all, or most, show up with their ‘A’ games this weekend, we could see a time around 15:30.
Parker Charter was awfully strong last weekend where the Panthers breezed to a 26-95 win over Lenox. In that race, the Panthers had a gap of just 54 seconds between their one and five runners. That’s what wins meets like this weekend. That’s what will make Parker Charter tough to beat. Weston, the 3A winner, did have a better gap at 51 seconds. But the difference here is where those five runners from each team will be. The Panthers have the ability to get at least four of their runners across the line before the Wildcats’ second.
Time: 11:45 a.m.
Title Hunt: Bromfield School, Lenox Memorial, Weston
Runners To Watch: Madelyn Germain, Norfolk Aggie; Evelyn Wool, Bromfield School; Ella Dunbury, West Bridgewater; Cameron Davis, Oxford; Avery Murphy, Murdock; Alice Culver, Lenox Memorial; Grace Rich, Hamilton-Wenham
Outlook: We’re expecting a strong lead pack for much of this race. Norfolk Aggie’s Madelyn Germain appears to be the slight favorite. She won the Divi. 3A title this past weekend at Northfield and always seems to have her best races during championship time. The past two years, she was a runner-up at the Meet of Champions. Could this be the year she sheds the bridesmaid label? Look for our 1-2-3 finishers from Div. 3C last week -Davis, Dunbury and Wool – to try and create some havoc up front. Of that trio, Davis may hold the edge. She was fourth at the Frank Mooney Coaches Invitational a week earlier where she posted a PR of 18:29.80, the fastest in the field other than Germain, who ran 18:16 as a sophomore at the season-ending meet.
Based on what transpired last week at the divisional state championships, Bromfield appears as though it will be tough to beat. The Trojans averaged the fastest time (20:57) from their five varsity runners at Northfield by almost 50 seconds over the next best. Bromfield won its meet with ease this past weekend, scoring only 49 points to defeat a good Lenox squad by 52 points.