WATERTOWN — Northwestern’s boys and Thomaston’s girls followed undefeated seasons (9-0) with team and individual wins by Highlander Alex Beauchene and Golden Bear Maegan Desmarais at the Berkshire League cross country championships Monday afternoon at Black Rock State Park.
Distancing the teams for the start, the league’s other concessions to COVID-19 cut the numbers down to five-person teams from the normal seven with the top four finishers counting instead of five. The JV races were not run.
Beauchene led the boys race from start to finish in 17:53.2 minutes over the 3.1-mile course. Teammates Matt Henrickson and William Thomson joined him at seventh and eighth in the boys top 10 with Christopher Ferrarotti just outside it in 13th for the boys championship.
Desmarais (20:30.5) made Thomaston history with her third straight individual BL championship. In a Golden Bear program filled with storied runners, Desmarais became the first to win three straight league titles..
Kiersten Sundell (fifth); Payton Mozelak (seventh); and Kiera Fainer (eighth) all finished in the top 10 to bring the team championship home.
Beauchene, whose top sport is swimming, finished fourth in the BL cross country meet a year ago but left no doubt in Monday’s race.
“I had a longer lead at the start,” Beauchene said after winning by four seconds, still breathing normally. “(Terryville’s Nick Zappone) was on my shoulder most of the way, but I like being pushed. It makes me run faster.”
Desmarais took the opposite strategy in her record-breaking third win.
“The plan was to stick behind the leaders for most of the race,” Desmarais said. “I passed them at the pond, about a half mile from the finish. I have confidence in my running.”
“She has a great feel for when to go and I love the way she finishes,” Thomaston coach Mark Olson said. “We don’t want to make mistakes early.”
In a great cross-country league, the BL championship always breeds extra excitement because it often presages Class S and M state championships for its top teams. This year, without state tournaments, the ante was way up as the end-all, be-all for its runners.
“We had a couple of seniors coming back and some talented freshmen working really hard, so we had balance and excitement all season,” said Northwestern coach Alison Beauchene about her boys team.
Second place was almost as exciting for teams and individuals.
“No one was going to beat Thomaston, so our goal was second place coming into the season,” said Shepaug girls coach John Spear after his Spartans nipped Litchfield by two points (46-48) in a four-way battle separating Shepaug, Litchfield, Northwestern (59) and Housatonic (60) by 14 points for second.
Housatonic coach Letitia Garcia-Tripp was just as happy for senior Charlotte Clulow’s second-place finish.
“I’m thrilled for her,” Garcia-Tripp said. “She’s a great athlete and a top student.”
Occasionally struggling with lack of numbers over his 11 years, Gilbert coach Scott Mueller found his boys team’s second-place tie with Thomaston all the sweeter.
“We lost to Northwestern in our first match of the season, then won our last eight,” he said.
And, finally, Nonnewaug’s boys and girls teams, were even happier than all the others just to be there Monday.
All school sports were canceled after Nonnewaug was forced back to remote learning last week. The team was notified at 9 p.m. Sunday they would be the exception thanks to cross country’s low exposure to the COVID-19 danger list.
BERKSHIRE LEAGUE CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Black Rock State Park
1. Northwestern 29; 2. (tie) Gilbert, Thomaston 48; 4. Nonnewaug 54; 5. Terryville 65; 6. Shepaug 88; 7. Litchfield 105; 8. Housatonic 136; Wolcott Tech 159.
1. Thomaston 18; 2. Shepaug 46; 3. Litchfield 48; 4. Northwestern 59; 5. Housatonic 60; 6. Nonnewaug 82.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Alex Beauchene, Northwestern, 17:53.2; 2. Nick Zappone, Terryville, 17:59.1; 3. Joseph Buchanan, Thomaston, 18:06.6; 4. Nicholas Fusco, Terryville 18:21.3; 5. Greg Bostek, Nonnewaug, 18:23.8; 6. Connor Marchand, Gilbert, 18:25.4; 7. Matt Henrickson, Northwestern, 18:39.0; 8. William Thomson, Northwestern, 18:44.3; 9. Connor Foss, Thomaston, 18:46.3; 10. David Lukowski, Gilbert 19:12.4.
1. Maegan Desmarais, Thomaston, 20:30.5; 2. Charlotte Clulow, Housatonic, 20:34.8; 3. Katie Deforest, Terryville, 20:35.8; 4. Ellish Foy, Shepaug, 21:17.5; 5. Kiersten Sundell, Thomaston, 21:39.3; 6. Jenna Sobek, Litchfield, 21:55.2; 7. Payton Mozelak, Thomaston, 22:05.3; 8. Kiera Fainer, Thomaston, 22:06.1; 9. Ella Anderson, Litchfield, 22:14.0; 10. Mary Katherine Eddy, Shepaug, 22:18.6.