WATERTOWN — Nonnewaug’s Eddie Nicholas and Thomaston’s Maegan Desmarais, both undefeated in the dual meet season, won individual titles at the Berkshire League’s Cross Country Championships Friday afternoon at Watertown’s Black Rock State Park.
The two-time defending champion Northwestern’s boys team also won as expected after an undefeated BL season.
But on the girls side, Shepaug, Lewis Mills and Thomaston each came in with 8-1 records after losing to one of the other two. That kind of parity led to a donnybrook in the final race of the day. Shepaug (44 points) came out on top over second-place Mills (48), but only after No. 4 runner Erin McGrath earned accolades with an 11th-place finish.
“Mills has a great pack, which scared us all year,” Shepaug coach John Spears said. “Erin had the race of her life; I told her at the two-mile mark, ‘If you want us to win this one, we need you to pass them all.”
McGrath passed two of Mills’ top five, good enough for the final edge, along with performances by teammates Elisa Afiouni (second), Eilish Foy (third), Aileen Rosa (fourth) and Jolie Grazia (24th).
Things looked good for Shepaug when Afiouni and Foy followed Desmarais across the finish line. Rosa was fifth overall behind Terryville freshman Katie Deforest, but fourth for team scoring because the Kangaroos ran just one other runner.
Then came the wait for the all-important fourth and fifth scoring team members.
On the boys side, Northwestern coach Alison Beauchene just had to wait for what she knew top runners Josh Manini (third), Alex Beauchene (fourth), Michael Bobinski (ninth), Chris Grenfell (12th) and Jack Kaszas (14th) could do for the Highlanders’ third straight title.
“Terryville gave us a good race today, but our guys ran strong,” she said. “We’re starting to build a cross country culture.”
Boys individual winner Nicholas has all the culture he needs in his own family. Older sister, Jackie was a Nonnewaug record setter before moving on to run at Princeton.
“I’m happy to have someone else in the family who knows what we have to go through,” said Eddie, running alone in front to the BL’s third best all-time performance, 16:19.7.
“I wanted to go for the record (16:00),” Nicholas said. “There was some wind on the bridge, but I wish I’d sped up in the second mile.”
“We were close at the start, but he pulled ahead when I had trouble breathing because of a cold,” said Terryville junior Chris Deforest, who finished second place in 16:50.9, and was the only other runner in under 17 minutes.
Thomaston’s Desmarais had company in the girls race.
“I passed two girls in the second mile, but I just got in front in the final mile,” said the Golden Bear sophomore, whose winning time was a personal best 20:30.5.
“Maegan ran great,” Thomaston coach Mark Olsen said. “She has a knack for pace. She saw girls in front of her, ran them down, and never lost her cool.”
Berkshire League Cross Country Championships
At Black Rock State Park, Watertown (3.7 miles)
Boys: 1. Northwestern 42; 2. Terryville 48; 3. Shepaug 115; 4. Thomaston 119; 5. Gilbert 124; 6. Lewis Mills 135; 7. Nonnewaug 144; 8. Litchfield 217; 9. Wamogo 235; 10. Housatonic 293.
Girls: 1. Shepaug 44; 2. Lewis Mills 48; 3. Thomaston 74; 4. Nonnewaug 81; 5. Northwestern 130; 6. Wamogo 184; 7. Housatonic 188; 8. Litchfield 196.
Top 10 Individuals
Boys: 1. Eddie Nicolas, Nonnewaug, 16:19.7; 2. Chris Deforest, Terryville, 16:50.9; 3. Josh Mangini, Northwestern, 17:24.1; 4. Alex Beauchene, Northwestern, 17:43.6; 5. Byron Deily, Gilbert, 17:51.0; 6. Justin Cascio, Lewis Mills, 17:54.5; 7. Colby Brown, Terryville, 17:57.9; 8. CJ Hart, Terryville, 18:01.1; 9. Michael Bobinski, Northwestern, 18:12.9; 10. Conor Garrity, Terryville, 18:13.7.
Girls: 1. Meagan Desmarais, Thomaston, 20:30.5; 2. Elisa Afiouni, Shepaug, 20:41.8; 3. Eilish Foy, Shepaug, 20:48.8; 4. Katie Deforest, Terryville, 20:52.8; 5. Aileen Rosa, Shepaug, 21:24.3; 6. Briana Grecco, Thomaston, 21:32.1; 7. Celina Daigle, Lewis Mills, 21:41.0; 8. Lauren Alvarez, Lewis Mills, 21:41.7; 9. Maddie Woodward, Nonnewaug, 21:48.3; 10. Kiersten Sindell, Thomaston, 22:20.0.