Even with BC High’s Chris Larnard and Westford teammate Jack Graffeo matching him stride for stride through the opening 2 miles of Saturday’s Division 1 boys’ cross-country race, Westford’s star senior Paul Bergeron felt in complete control from the opening gun.
After taking charge with a kick at the 2-mile mark, Bergeron cruised down the stretch to claim his second straight individual state title in 15 minutes, 6.43 seconds at Willard Field in Devens. Larnard ran second in a personal-best 15:25.21 and Graffeo was just behind in third (15:31.47).
“I decided before I was going to make a really hard push around Mile 2, and from there until Mile 2½, I definitely booked it as hard as I could,” Bergeron said. “The first 2 miles felt amazing and super smooth, so I was confident the whole way through.”
While both Bergeron and Graffeo were hoping for a 1-2 finish, still getting two of the top three podium spots was an important sign of their growth — and also more to work on for next weekend, when the Westford duo will head to the Foot Locker regional meet in Franklin Park.
“Having him as a training partner every day, obviously, is amazing,” Bergeron said of Graffeo. “Obviously I wanted us to 1-2 — but I think we got a little bit of work to do, and then a week from now, just get ready for regionals. "
On the team side, Brookline (54 points) rolled to its second straight Division 1 title, finishing well ahead of runner-up Newton South (114). BC High was third (154).
Brookline had no top-five finishers, but seniors Ben Kasen (15:52.48), Kailas Ciatto (15:53.66), and Pablo Tejedor Myers (15:54.98) finished seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively. The Warriors’ top five scorers all placed in the top 18 of the 187-runner field.
Division 2 — After competing in only one invitational race this season, Danvers was among the lesser-known contenders in the Division 2 boys’ field. But coach Jeff Bartlett was confident his team could make a splash — and, on Saturday, the Falcons proved him right.
Led by senior Sean Moore’s fourth-place finish (16:10.9), the Falcons (92 points) edged runner-up Ludlow (105 points) as Danvers earned its first state title in team history.
“If you’re focused on the process, we knew that we’d have a good shot,” Bartlett said. “Our guys are very consistent. They do the work every day . . . Understandably, people kind of forgot about us. And they just kept nailing the workouts.”
The race’s individual winner was Nashoba’s Adam Balewicz (15:33.29), whose 31-second victory over runner-up Isaac Gross of Marblehead (16:04.5) was the largest margin of victory across all six races Saturday.
The win capped a dominant senior campaign for Balewicz, who also notched a 37-second win at the Twilight Invitational’s medium-school meet back in October, and handily won the Division 2B qualifier by 21 seconds last weekend.
Division 3 — Though Willard Field is not Parker Charter’s technical home course, the school was a mere walk across the street from the meet’s site. Even still, the familiarity paid off.
In one of the most dominant team wins of the day, Parker Charter cruised to the win (63 points), well ahead of Weston in second place (118 points). Henry Jacobsen led the way for the Panthers with a fourth-place finish (16:15.84), and teammate Caleb Hatlevig finished just behind in sixth (16:23.9).
“We were expecting a close race,” said Parker Charter coach Ben Benoit. “And I kept telling them in a close race, ‘I believe in us, and we’ll get through it.’ But this was a dream scenario.”
After finishing in the top five at the All-State meet each of the past two years, Littleton senior Timothy Rank faced two heady challengers to finally get over the hump for the individual title. Behind a late kick, Rank (15:44.63) fended off a late push from Greater Lowell’s Devin Moreau (15:46.18).
“After the first mile, the plan was to pick it up a little bit so that I could just drop some of the people who aren’t going to be in it at the end. Just leave me with the core guys,” Rank said. “So it worked out, and I wasn’t really looking behind me at the end.”