WRENTHAM — Although Johnny Abraham and Drew Fossa attend different schools with competing cross-country teams, the two are friends who pushed each other to finish first and second during the Division 1 race at the MSTCA Frank Kelley Invitational Saturday.
It was a close race between Abraham, a Lowell senior, and Fossa, a Peabody senior, but Abraham managed to break away in the last 100 meters, finishing two seconds ahead of Fossa in 15 minutes 52 seconds.
“I tried to hold back for the first half of the race, and I felt fairly comfortable,” Abraham said. “I was hurting during the last half-mile, but then I found a little left in me in the last 400 meters or so.”
It is only Abraham’s second season running cross-country after two years playing golf, yet he has already experienced the excitement of a major team win after Lowell won All-States last November.
“It’s a great team sport, we have a great group of guys here,” Abraham said. “We’ve had a tough past two weeks, but I hope to be right in front at the All-State and Eastern Mass. meets.”
Fossa is also focusing on his goals for upcoming meets.
“I have to keep improving, it’s all about stepping stones building up to the major meets of the season,” Fossa said. “But I am really happy our team did good. My goal involves the whole team.”
Peabody’s boys took second place in the Division 1 race, while Lowell finished third. Cambridge won the event with 65 points.
“We came in trying to see what kind of shape we’re in,” Cambridge coach Scott Cody said. “It was good to get out and see where we stocked up, but there are some teams we haven’t raced yet. Our kids ran well, but nobody is too happy, people went out pretty hard.”
Lowell won the Division 1 girls’ race, with sophomore cousins Kaley and Lexi Richards taking first and second place. Kaley won in 19:01, while Lexi finished in 19:24.
“I’ve never felt this good,” Kaley said. “I didn’t think I was going to win, my coach just wanted me to try and see where I stand.”
Peabody finished second as a team, followed by Wellesley in third place.
“We have four girls back from last year, but we lost our top runner,” said Peabody coach Joe Rocha, referring to his state champion daughter Catarina. “The team’s not very deep, but we have six weeks to come back and try to qualify for All-States.”
Marblehead won the girls’ Division 2 race, ahead of Bedford. Newburyport junior Nick Carleo (15:34) won the Division 2 boys’ race for the second year in a row. Paul Hogan of Burlington (15:38) was second and Swampscott senior Matthew Mahoney (15:44) third.
“I felt pretty good and relaxed, but it’s the first real race of the season, so it hurt a lot too,” Carleo said. “I’m happy, but there’s a lot more work to be done.”
Despite Carleo taking first place, Tewksbury won the boys’ Division 2 race with three runners in the top 15. But Newburyport coach Don Hennigar, whose team finished second, doesn’t think Saturday was a reflection of the best work his team can do.
“We could have run better today as a team,” Hennigar said. “But it’s a good experience to be here.”