Small Splashes From Sunday’s USATF-NE XC Championship Races

This would have been “Big Splashes” from USATF-NE’s if not for the cordoning off of the small lake that had formed by the 2-mile mark of all races following the previous day’s downpours.


“I’m so bummed they roped that off,” commented The Green Mtn. AA’s Teague O’Connor. “It would have been a blast running through there.”


“Hey, this is cross country,” opined GMAA teammate Norm Larson, 62, and destined for the M60 crown (31:52) in the first race of the day, the Masters 8K. (O’Connor would place 10th in the Open 10K in 31:53). (The fact that there were 3 80-year-olds in the field had an influence on the decision by organizers.)


(Photo: Pete Hammer Places as top M50 (4th overall) ahed of BAA teammate Mike Galoob in the Men’s Masters 8K. All photos by FitzFoto/NERunner.)

Walla Walla (WA) transplant Mike Gordon recently turned 40, had a second child two months ago and moved his in-laws into new digs in Portland, ME the day before the race. This kept the Dirigo ace’s mind off the race until teammate Ryan McCalmon told him to look out for Dan Smith of the Western Mass AC.


That’s exactly what Gordon did, never taking the lead and sitting in 3rd place with 200m to go.


“There was mud by the turn around the backstop to the finish and Smith and a guy from the BAA (Aaron Price) went wide and I cut in. That got me a little space,” revealed Gordon. “That’s when I knew it was time to go and I gave it everything.”


Gordon passed Price, barely, and then leaned past Smith to secure the win in 26:51 with Smith and Price both timed in 26:52, followed 3-seconds later by 1st senior Pete Hammer, 52, of the BAA.


The BAA took the M40 title with 21 points to mighty Dirigo’s 55.


Women’s 6K: New England Distance ace Katrina Spratford had placed third at Mayor’s Cup and was looking to move two rungs up as she pushed the early pace with the Battle Road TC’s Holly Rees and teammate Hayley Green in tow along with 15 year-old Conn. prep student Sydney Masciarelli.


Photo: Up front at the mile, the Battle Road TC’s Holly Rees borded by NE Distance teammates Katrina Spratford (L) and Hayley Green.

Spratford opened a gap in the second mile with the Providence College alum duo of Catarina Rocha, 23, (Ocean State AC) and Brianna Ilarda, 22, now fronting the chase group.


Ilarda passed Spratford in the final mile but Spratford rallied late, made a fierce final charge and was half a step away from the win as both athletes were timed in 20:22. Rocha followed 10-seconds later with Hayley in 20:35, teen sensation Mascarielli in 20:38 and Rees in 20:41.


The Masters ran with the open women and reluctant participant Kaela O’Neil, 40, clinched the laurel wreath in 23:14 over BAA teammate and recent 2:55:01 marathoner (Hartford) Karolyn Bowley, 49, in 24:24. Greater Lowell’s Kara Haas, 48, was third in 24:57.


“Cross country is hard,” said O’Neil. “It’ like a different sport for a road junkie like me. It was hard to get me here but, on a day like this, you can’t beat it. It was like a cocktail party at the starting line.”


Overall, Battle Road TC won the Open team competition over Tracksmith Hare, 32 to 56. Among M40 teams, the Western Mass Distance Project just prevailed over the HFC Striders, 12 to 15.


The Men’s 10K was the final race of the day and it was out and away for Western Mass strongman Ben Groleau, 25. Groleau holds the UMass-Amherst mile record of 4:01.87 and Atlantic-10 1500m record of 3:48.43, but with guys like sub-4 minute miler and recent Lone Gull 10K record setter at 29:37, Jordan Mann of the Ocean State AC in the field, the early surge seemed a bit audacious.


There was no clock at the mile and Groleau wasn’t wearing a watch, it was all about feel.


“I was feeling really smooth and I moved out a little on a small downhill before the mile expecting people to go with me and they didn’t so I decided I was just going to run my own race,” said Groleau, who was passed by Mann shortly before 2-miles.


“I never expected to beat him, I knew who he was coming in and I kind of expected it. The point was not to worry about anyone else and just keep my pace, although I felt a lot better the first half of the race than the second.”


Not surprising that Mann would win in 30:52, but that Groleau would assume the lead before the mile and then hold onto second in 31:04—5-seconds ahead of Mann’s teammate Julian Oakley—now that’s impressive.


Oakley is where Ocean State’s team presence ended as Tracksmith Hare, led by 4th placer Jesse Young in 31:14, bested the BAA, 37 to 58.


Photo: Half way into the Men’s 10K, the top 2 teams duke it out, with Connor Reck (L) and Brad Mish of the runner-up BAA visible along with (numero uno) Tracksmith Hare’s Luke O’Connor (926) and Jeff See.

In NER’s next issue we’ll reveal a lot more, including what the 80 year-olds thought of the day’s water hazard. – Full Results



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