FALMOUTH - The atmosphere was electric at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds last night, not because of Ferris wheels and bumper cars, but because 1,494 athletes from 85 schools took part in the first Massachusetts cross-country meet under the lights.
The first Bob McIntyre Twilight Cross-Country meet spanned four hours and featured several of the state’s best runners, including Dennis-Yarmouth junior Jordan O’Dea, who finished first (18 minutes 16.44 seconds) in the girls’ varsity 5 kilometers, almost 30 seconds ahead of Weston’s Olivia Brackett (18:43.68). D-Y finished third in the girls’ race with 130 points.
O’Dea can’t wait to come back.
“When I was on the starting line I started to get more nervous because I knew that Bishop Feehan was there and they’re our biggest competitor right now,’’ O’Dea said. “But as I got toward the middle and the end of the race I was more comfortable because I had a lead and I was just trying to push myself.’’
Dennis-Yarmouth coach Jim Hoar said it was hard to pay attention to the field with his star runner in the lead.
“Jordan just ran away with the varsity race,’’ Hoar said. “She did a lot better than I expected. She even said she could probably have done it faster.’’
Bishop Feehan was first in the girls’ race with 38 points, followed by Newton South (84).
The event was the brainchild of several members of the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association, including Notre Dame of Hingham coach Rick Kates, Seekonk coach Frank Mooney, and Hoar.
Kates was proud to bring a well-known California event to the East Coast.
“I always thought it would be a good idea to have it under the lights since you’re always trying to make the sport better and get the kids more involved,’’ he said. “This is a unique thing where they run under the lights. It’s competing with football and soccer on Friday and Saturday nights.’’
The MSTCA, made up of 350 coaches and governed by a board of 30, was first run by the meet’s namesake, McIntyre, a driving force behind the construction of the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. McIntyre died of cancer in 1996.
Mooney, who succeeded McIntyre as executive director, traveled to the fairgrounds this summer to make sure it was a viable venue, then presented it before the board. Bishop Feehan coach Bob L’Homme was thrilled his team won the boys’ (35 points) and girls’ meets.
“The girls ran really well and the boys’ race I thought was like a prize fight,’’ he said.
Bishop Feehan tied for first with Brookline in the boys’ race, but the tiebreaker was decided by Feehan’s sixth man Alex Conway, who placed 20th overall (16:42.13) in the 5-kilometer race.
Brookline senior Chernet Sisay finished first (15:58.05), followed by classmate Mark Perry (16:01.94), and Bishop Feehan junior Henry Dodge (16:04.76).
In the freshman girls’ race at 2.1 miles, Hopkinton’s Shelby Aarden destroyed the competition with a 12:28.95 finish.
Owen Gonser of King Philip was first in the boys’ sophomore race, finishing 5 kilometers in 16:16.74.