Submitted to Easton Patch:
The Oliver Ames High School girls’ cross country team advanced to the State Championships on Saturday with their fourth place finish at this weekend’s Eastern Massachusetts Championships. The boys’ team failed to advance when they finished in fifth place by four points to Arlington High School. Daniel Moverman (8th /16:24) and Connor Donovan (15th /16:43) will advance as individuals. The meet was held at the Wrentham Developmental Center, on a three loop, 5k (3.1 mile) course.
The Lady Tigers where led by Senior Captain Megan Fitzgerald (11th /19:35) and Emily Newman (12th /19:35). Maggie Harding (33rd/20:31) was the next Tiger across the line. Jillian McAuliffe (44th /20:49) and Lindsey Foster (45th /20:49) rounded out OA’s top five scorers’. Katie Holmberg (73rd /21:40) and Olivia Wakefield( 80th /21:49) ran sixth and seventh for Oliver Ames.
The girl’s race was a battle from the crack of the starter’s pistol until OA’s fifth scorer; Lindsey Foster crossed the finish line, punching the ticket to the State Championship meet at Northfield Mountain this weekend.
The ladies’ had a score of 200 points a half mile into the race. Fitzgerald and Newman were in 24th and 25th place respectively. Harding was in 38th. McAuliffe and Foster were both over 50th. Covering the next 2 ½ miles, the girls went to work. Passing bodies, they were able to drop fifty five points from their score, finishing with 145.
“Our strategy was to go out strong but conservatively” said Oliver Ames Head Coach Neil Levine. “The 200 point set-up in the first half mile was perfect. I knew a qualifying position would take about 150 points or less” added Levine.
When the ladies passed the one mile mark, they went to work.
Their reward came from an effort that was loaded with big meet experience up front. Fitzgerald, McAuliffe, Harding and Foster have all raced in multiple Eastern Massachusetts and All State Championships. Their seasoning, combined with the talent of Newman, a junior competing in her first year of cross country, sealed their fate.
The day was bittersweet, as the boys’ team, was unable to repeat as the two time defending Eastern Massachusetts Champion. In contrast to the ladies, only two of OA’s boys, Moverman and Junior Britton Copley have State Championship level experience. The Tigers’ have three sophomores and two juniors in their top seven.
In spite of that inexperience, OA ran with conviction. Moverman and Donovan both received all east status, when they medaled with their top fifteen performances. Donovan in typical fashion, giving every ounce of energy he had, collapsed at the finish line.
Donovan had to be picked up and carried away by his coaches. “I’ve never run so hard in my life” said Donovan in the finish chute, as he was aided by Levine and assistant coach Judy Copley, his eyes rolling to the back of his head, his body dripping with sweat, covered in mud.
In what was one of the gutsiest efforts of the day, sophomore Cameron Gardner (39th/17:20.8) running third for the Tigers, didn’t give in. With four hundred meters to go Gardner approached the final horseshoe turn. While other harriers where faltering, Gardner dug in his spikes. He passed bodies and dropped points. “Cam held position. Nobody passed him. He picked up a lot of points for us” said OA assistant coach Kyle Sousa.
Competing in what was to become their final cross country race of their high school careers, seniors Corey Pires (50th /17:33) and Captain Bobby Kline (48th/17:32) ran as brothers, shoulder to shoulder, matching their strides, driving each other on. Sophomore Kyle Nichols (57th /17:41) running a season best performance and Copley (90th / 18:11) rounded out the Tigers’ top seven.
This Saturday, Oliver Ames will compete at the State Championships at Northfield Mountain. The course is located near Turner’s Falls, in Western Massachusetts. The course is one of the most challenging in the state. The first half mile is an uphill mountain climb. It is followed by two and a half miles of rolling hills and difficult terrain.
The ladies team will be competing against the top 19 programs in Massachusetts. Moverman and Donovan will be running as individual qualifiers lining up against the state’s top harriers.
Full girls’ results:
Full boys’ results: