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CROSS-COUNTRY | MSTCA CUP

Marblehead’s Loeden Rodrigues closes strong, sets course record in season-ending Mass. State Track Coaches Association Cup

Marblehead's Loeden Rodrigues (left) edges out Wellesley's Drew Donahue for the victory in the Division 1 boys' race in Saturday's Mass State Track Coaches Association Cup at Highland Park in Attleboro.
Marblehead's Loeden Rodrigues (left) edges out Wellesley's Drew Donahue for the victory in the Division 1 boys' race in Saturday's Mass State Track Coaches Association Cup at Highland Park in Attleboro.DebeeTlumacki

ATTLEBORO — Marblehead senior Loeden Rodrigues didn’t have to glance over his shoulder, he could hear Wellesley senior Drew Donahue in his tracks from the moment he passed him with roughly 2 kilometers to go.

After capturing the Frank Kelley and Frank Mooney invitational titles on the same 3.1-mile Highland Park course in recent weeks, Rodrigues wrapped up his high school cross-country career by holding off Donahue to win the MSTCA Cup with a course-record time of 15 minutes, 38.2 seconds Saturday.

“I heard his footsteps. I heard his breathing,” said Rodrigues, a UMass cross-country and track and field commit. “There’s no redemption with this race. I wanted to give it my all because it’s the last race of my senior year and it’s the last competition until winter track.”

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Loeden Rodrigues takes a breather at the finish line after ending his Marblehead cross-country career with a victory in Saturday's MSTCA Cup.
Loeden Rodrigues takes a breather at the finish line after ending his Marblehead cross-country career with a victory in Saturday's MSTCA Cup.DebeeTlumacki

Donahue crossed the finish line in 15:38.6 to take second, and St. John’s Prep sophomore Nathan Lopez (15:53.2) rounded out the top three while leading the Eagles to the Division 1 boys’ team title based on the average time of their top five runners (16:30). Uxbridge finished atop the Division 2 boys’ team rankings (average 17:28).

“Loeden played a really tactical race,” Donahue said. “He knew right where I was at all times.”

Andrew Cabral of Seekonk was the top finisher in Division 2 (16:02.1), followed by Joseph Thumann of Whitinsville Christian (16:16.6), and the Uxbridge tandem of Aidan Ross (third, 16:17.1) and Colin Caso (fourth, 16:21.7).

Agawam senior Sarah Ross claimed the Division 1 girls’ title in 18:48.5, more than seven seconds faster than Holliston freshman Carmen Luisi, who was crowned the Division 2 champion (18:55.9).

With about a mile remaining, Ross took over the lead of a pack that included Luisi and Brockton senior Nicole Dunbury, who took third in Division 1 (19:11.9).

“I didn’t know how the race was going to end, but I knew I wanted to be in the thick of it,” said Ross, who is committed to run cross-country and track and field at UMass Lowell next year. “I decided to go for it and see what happens.”

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Agawam's Sarah Ross heads to victory in Saturday's Division 1 girls' race.
Agawam's Sarah Ross heads to victory in Saturday's Division 1 girls' race.DebeeTlumacki

The end result was the opposite of the Mooney Invitational on Nov. 1, in which Ross finished second behind Luisi, who said she was pleased with her freshman season.

“It’s definitely good to know where I stand with all these girls,” Luisi said.

Natick senior Kate Connolly (18:59.6) finished second in Division 1 and helped the Redhawks win the girls’ Division 1 team title (average time 20:08). The Whitinsville Christian girls were the Division 2 champs (average time 21:57).

Although many of the competitors admitted they wish the All-State meet could have happened this season, they were happy the MSTCA Cup united runners from around the state while providing one last competition. That was especially true after Friday’s announcement that the MIAA Board of Directors approved recommendations to move indoor track and field to the Fall II season set to begin Feb. 22.

“I’m just so grateful this was able to happen at all,” Ross said.

Runners take off from the start line during one of Saturday's girls' races in the Mass State Track Coaches Association Cup at Highland Park in Attleboro.
Runners take off from the start line during one of Saturday's girls' races in the Mass State Track Coaches Association Cup at Highland Park in Attleboro.DebeeTlumacki
Boys' runners cross the shadow of a tree from the early afternoon fall sun Saturday at Highland Park in Attleboro.
Boys' runners cross the shadow of a tree from the early afternoon fall sun Saturday at Highland Park in Attleboro.DebeeTlumacki