WRENTHAM — Newton North teammates Gabe Montague and Mike Schlichting led the Division 1 junior-senior boys’ race Saturday at the 38th annual MSTCA Cross-Country Invitational, taking first and second place. The seniors have been racing alongside one another since sophomore year, pushing each other every step of the way.
“We compete, but we also work together,” said Montague, who completed the 5K route in 15 minutes 30 seconds. “I always tell myself that Mike is nipping at my heels, and if Mike is pushing, then I can, too.”
Schlichting (15:37) finished only seven seconds behind Montague, beating his time at last year’s meet by more than a minute.
“I try to look at the time when I run and that puts it all in perspective,” Schlichting said. “If there’s a half-mile left, I say to myself that it’s only a little over two minutes more.”
Division 1 girls’ junior-senior — As All-State champion in the 800 meters last year, Dracut senior Karina Shepard (18:16) is a known track star who is continuing her successful running career in the cross-country season.
“Today I wanted to prove people wrong,” Shepard said. “I’ve been told, ‘You’re an 800 runner, this isn’t your season.’ But if I can put my mind to track, why not cross-country?”
Shepard finished almost 30 seconds ahead of the field, although she thinks she still has things to work on.
“I was planning to go out more controlled,” she said. “I want to do my best to be a little more consistent with my splits. I like the speed.”
Division 1 boys’ sophomore — Jacob Zuch (16:47) of Winchester finished first, just ahead of Brockton’s Matthew Kerrigan (16:56).
“I definitely got a good jump and tried to stay with the top eight,” Zuch said. “Once I saw the others slow down, I didn’t. I tried to get ahead as soon as possible.”
Division 1 girls’ sophomore — Beverly freshman Abby Walsh may not be a sophomore, but she swept the Division 1 race in 19:00, an exciting win for someone who was running against entirely new competitors.
“I just thought to stay with the leaders to see how I felt for the first 800 meters,” Walsh said. “I told myself to keep going, hoping in the end I’d do well. I was really surprised I won.”
She did quite well, finishing nearly a minute in front of Billerica’s Abby Fisher (19:54) and North Andover’s Mia Drury (19:55).
Division 2 boys’ junior-senior — Whitinsville Christian junior Jamison Koeman (16:10) took first place, improving upon his second-place finish last year. Junior Price Day of Bromfield, who won the meet last year, finished second in 16:23.
Division 2 girls’ junior-senior — Catalina Dominick aimed to see if she could get below 18 minutes. Although the Danvers junior came very close to her goal, she was still able to take first in 18:01.
“I am trying to get ready for next week,” Dominick said. “Hopefully our team can qualify for All-States.”
Senior Jessie Cardin of Sutton took second in 18:37, nearly a minute ahead of the rest of the field.
Division 2 boys’ sophomore — After being held back by a stress fracture earlier in the season, Nick Steele of Bromfield was able to take first place in 17:02.
“I knew it’d be tough, but I wanted to prepare myself mentally,” Steele said. “I’ve changed my motivation and I’ve gotten ahead.”
CJ Paine of Whitinsville Christian was second in 17:15.
Division 2 girls’ sophomore — Melrose sophomore Elizabeth Hirsch took first place in 19:40, followed by Erin Grela of Ursuline (20:00). Grela, recovering from a cold, found motivation to push through the race.
“I think of my team and no one else,” Grela said. “You need to do it for the team.”
Norton’s Anya DiLorenzo was third in 20:06.