WRENTHAM — With temperatures hovering in the high 70s all day, the sun shone bright on the entire Marshfield cross-country program at Saturday’s annual MSTCA Frank Kelley Invitational meet.
The Rams ran to first-place finishes in both the boys’ and girls’ championship 5K races.
With 73 points, the Marshfield girls recorded a comfortable victory over runner-up Triton Regional (114 points) and Hingham (123).
“This group of girls — they’re kind of new to the whole thing,” said Dennis Sheppard, who coaches both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Marshfield.
“They haven’t been to All-States since 2005, so it’s been a while since they’ve been in this position.
“They’re starting to find their way, as far as racing goes.”
Sofia LoVuolo (19:54.75), fifth overall, led the Rams to the win.
The Marshfield boys, though, experienced more of a nail-biter. But thanks to the finish of their No. 5 runner, sophomore Jay Joyce, Marshfield edged Lowell, 84-89, for first place.
Joyce was in a tug-of-war for positioning between three runners, including one from Lowell, until the final 200 yards.
From there, however, he used his track skills to leapfrog each one and finish 35th with a time of 17 minutes, 45.08 seconds.
“I was told by my coach I had to pass these three guys ahead of me to get [the win] for us,” said Joyce. “I’ve always thought of that moment while racing, and I had to execute for my team.”
Had Joyce not been able to outsprint those three runners, including Lowell’s Nathan Petterson (17:45.58), Marshfield would have placed second.
At fourth overall, Nick Valianti (16:37.85) was the top Marshfield runner.
“It was Lowell beating us the whole day,” said Sheppard. “They had six runners to our three at the first mile. It was really important to get every single point.
“He’s an 800 guy on the track and has a strong kick,” he added of Joyce.
Though he acknowledges Marshfield is more known for its prowess in track and field, Sheppard was encouraged with the overall performance from both teams.
“The teams look good,” said Sheppard.
“If they race like they did today, and keep improving over the coming months, we should be in good shape going forward.”
On a day that was dominated by Marshfield’s depth, Alex Craig starred as an individual.
The Old Rochester Regional junior, in his second year running cross-country, noticed that he was not ranked, according to Bay State rankings.
In a year of “vengeance,” acknowledged Craig, he finished with a clocking 16:10.77, claiming first place in the championship race.
“I had a terrible state meet [last November at Stanley Park in Westfield],” said Craig. “I think the cold weather and snow affected me — I wasn’t ready for it.
“I definitely have redemption for that meet [after today].”
Mary Yount of Northampton (19:26.19) was the top female finisher.
Joe Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.