WRENTHAM — Natick junior Peter Briggs spent the first three weeks of the high school cross-country season training on a stationary bike — instead of running — as he worked his way through plantar fasciitis in his heel.
In Saturday’s MSTCA Bay State Invitational, Natick coach Matthew Miller was unsure exactly how Briggs would run, but opted to use him in the second leg of the three-mile relay at the Wrentham Developmental Center course.
Junior Nick Melisi ran the first leg, staying with a runner from Plymouth South and another from Parker Charter before passing the baton to Briggs, who broke away to give Natick the lead.
“That first downhill carried me through to the lead,” Briggs said. “Then, I just held that for as long as I could until I handed it off to Matty [George].”
George, a senior, maintained the cushion as the Redhawks secured first place in Division 1 with an overall time of 15 minutes, 14.90 seconds. Plymouth South (15:25.24) was second overall, but first in Division 2.
“I had a feeling we would have a chance to be in the top three,” said Miller. “I wasn’t exactly sure because I just didn’t know how it would go with everyone running a shorter race. It felt really good. I was really pleased with the way the top three guys ran.”
The Bay State Invitational has always been run as a 5K, scheduled for the same venue as the upcoming All-State Championship. But Gardner Municipal Golf Course, host of this year’s meet on Nov. 16, was not available Saturday. So the MSTCA chose to run the invitational in a relay format in Wrentham.
“We decided to do something a little different, so we voted as a committee on a couple of different formats and this is the one that came out,” said Woburn coach Jim Fletcher, chairman of the cross-country committee for the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association.
Twenty-seven schools were represented in the field.
“There are a couple of relay meets early on. We thought this would break up the monotony of running a bunch of 5Ks and try something interesting as a format and I think it went pretty well.”
The runners also enjoyed the format change.
“It was fun,” said Lindy Stadtlander, part of Hingham’s first-place finish in the Division 1 junior/senior girls’ race with a time of 18:27.56. “Usually we are competing a little bit [with each other]. Healthy, good competition, but it is nice to work together and be one unit.”
Hamilton-Wenham (19:17.94), the Division 2 champion, was second overall.
Hingham also captured the Division 1 freshman/sophomore girls’ relay (19:36.44) while Danvers took the boys’ race (16:38.51). Parker Charter (boys) and Ursuline (girls) were the top Division 2 squads.
Milford (17.19.52) won the D1 girl-girl-boy coed relay while Franklin (16:21.39) took the boy-boy-girl crown. Seekonk was the top Division 2 team in both, finishing in 19:10.98 and 15:57.33.