WRENTHAM — Henry Gartner was mired in a crowded lead pack during the early portion of the MSTCA Frank Kelley Invitational’s Championship Boys’ 5K. The Falmouth senior was still only fourth at the 3K mark.
That was exactly how he wanted it.
By the time Gartner descended the Wrentham Developmental Center’s final hill, he had passed everyone. Gartner took first in 15:22.8 and finished a comfortable 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan Connolly of North Andover (15:37.0).
The race plan could not have gone any better for Gartner.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “First race of my senior year; it’s a great way to start it off . . . I felt like I had more [left], which is great for my next couple of races.”
Gartner wanted to hang back among the leaders through the first mile, as long as he kept pace. When he clocked in a sub-five-minute mile and still felt good, he knew his legs could power him the rest of the way.
“You can’t win [the race] in the first mile, but you can lose it,” he said.
Coach Conor Markham said he and Gartner had been working on this strategy. He was impressed that Gartner took it to victory — but not surprised.
“If you saw the work that he puts in — this should happen,” said Markham.
Veteran poise also proved superior in the earlier girls’ championship 5K. Brookline senior Camille Jordan went head-to-head with Cambridge sophomore Aoife Shovlin for most of the race and were deadlocked at the 3K mark. But Jordan had just enough extra in the tank, winning in 18:19.7 with Shovlin (18:22.5) close behind.
“Towards the end, I was kind of deciding whether or not I should hold back and see what I could do towards the finish, or if I should just take the lead,” said Jordan. “But I decided to kind of stay with her and let her get a little ahead so I could have a good finish.”
Jordan’s clocking left her prior PR in the dust by more than 90 seconds. Both she and coach Mike DeYoung credited a massive summer leap for building positive momentum for the fall.
“It felt really good,” Jordan said. “I think I did a good job of training over the summer and just regaining my confidence in cross-country, because normally I’m used to running track as my primary sport.”
Brookline also dominated in team scoring with just 37 points. The Warriors placed four runners in the top 11 finishers. For DeYoung, the Frank Kelley was a quality first test for a team that should be a Division 1 front-runner.
“I would say people were about where I thought that they were, given workouts and the work they did over the summer — maybe a little bit faster,” he said. “But I know they’re a really talented group and super hard-working. They all ran over the summer [and] really dedicated themselves this summer to being the best they can be, and I think that’s what you’re seeing.”
▪ The Westford Academy boys’ cross-country team won the 5K championship race at the Ocean State Invitational in Warwick, R.I.
Junior Paul Bergeron finished second (15:10.4), and sophomore Jack Graffeo finished fifth (15:13.6). Both runners broke Westford’s 5K school record, set in 2017 by James Dolan (15:46) at the Barnstable Fairgrounds during the MSTCA Twilight Invitational.
“It’s really rewarding,” said coach Scott Hafferkamp. “I see it every day how hard they work. I’m glad to see it paying off.”
Now in his eighth season, Hafferkamp said his team had this meet circled on the calendar.
“It was our first true test to see where we’re at,” said Hafferkamp. “They went out there and executed.”
Rounding out the team scoring was Austin Desisto (16:26.6), Dan Ottesen (16:48.9), Nathan Dubay (16.52.9), Davis Haines (16:57.6), and Owen Schultz (17:17.3). On the girls’ side, Westford’s Emily Wadlake was second in the freshman race, completing the 4K in 15:41.
Ethan Fuller can be reached at email@example.com.