Approximately 4,200 runners from 246 schools converged on the Wrentham Development Center for the Frank Mooney Coaches Invitational on Saturday afternoon. The mind-set of most runners was to prepare for the MIAA State Divisional Meets, which is next week on the same course.
The goal for Tewksbury junior Makayla Paige, who has been dealing with cramps all season, was to stay healthy ahead of the divisional meets. Around the two-mile mark of the Division 1 junior girls’ 5K race, Paige spotted her coach, Fran Cusick, and yelled out, “62.” Cusick was perplexed. He turned to Paige’s father, who also was unsure what “62” meant. Paige finished the race with a winning time of 19:15.40 and then explained to her coach that she was counting in her head, as a technique to help her mentally forget about the cramps.
“I have looked up so much of this stuff about this and there is no real scientific, ‘Oh you just need to do this,’ ” Cusick said. “Different things work for different people. It seemed like today she succeeded.”
Paige also worked on running evenly to help with the cramps. This meant starting with a 6:30 pace, which is slower than usual for her, and then kicking at the last-mile mark to gain the lead.
“That was the hard part, trying to keep the same pace because if I went too fast I was going to get a cramp,” Paige said, who did not finish the Merrimack Valley League Meet because of a side stitch. “I get to the point where I can’t breathe. It’s really bad.”
After Winchester’s Lizzy Reynolds won the Division 1 senior girls’ 5K race (18:53.79), her father exclaimed, “That made up for Woburn, huh. Way to go!” In the Middlesex League Meet at Woburn Country Club, Reynolds had lost first place by a mere second. The Coaches Invitational gave her a chance to gain more experience on the Wrentham course.
“This was a precursor to divisional,” Reynolds said. “Next week it will definitely be crazy because it will be my last meet here ever.
“I definitely know what I can run here now because that was a [personal best] from last year by like a minute and a half. I wasn’t sure what I could do coming into it.”
Walpole senior Shane Grant was also disappointed when he finished 19th in the Bay State Conference League Meet. Grant made an early move to gain the lead and held on to win the Division 1 senior boys’ 5K race with a time of 16:17.51.
“My coach put me in this race as a rust buster and let it go,” Grant said. “Move it over, so I would come in with some momentum in the next race, divisionals.
“After this race, I feel like I can run a lot faster than I did today. I’m in better shape when someone pushes me.”
The Coaches Invitational also gave St. John’s Prep freshman Nathan Lopez a chance to compete and eventually win the Division 1 junior boys’ 5K with a time of 16:11.82.
“He is young and he doesn’t have a lot of experience at 5Ks, so we have been bringing him along gradually,” said St. John’s coach John Boyle. “Anybody who follows the sport knows he has a lot of talent, but we didn’t want to throw him into a pressure-cooker situation right off the bat.”
In the Division 2 races, Whitinsville Christian runners impressed with sophomore Molly Lashley winning the junior/senior girls’ 5K with a time of 18:53.81 and junior Joseph Thumann winning the junior/senior boys’ 5K with a time of 15:51.91.
Next week every runner will try to finish in the top four as a team to advance to the MIAA All State Meet later this month at Gardner Golf Course.
Division 2 North
Pentucket 1, Bishop Fenwick 0 — Junior Liv Reagan assisted on senior Meg Bean’s goal to break a scoreless tie with 12 minutes remaining, lifting the 10th-seeded Sachems (11-7-2) past the second-seeded Crusaders (17-3) and into the semifinals.
Watertown 1, Wayland 0 — In overtime, freshman Elizabeth Loftus saw a window of opportunity and unleashed a wrist shot to send the Raiders (18-1) to a win in their quarterfinal matchup against the Warriors (11-6-3).
Division 1 South
Hingham 1, Notre Dame (Hingham) 0 — A goal from junior Christine Landry to open the second half was all the offense the Harborwomen needed to edge crosstown rival and 10th-seeded Notre Dame Academy. Hingham advances to the quarterfinals.
Needham 1, Canton 0 — Senior Ashley Marshall scored the game’s lone goal in the opening minute as the Rockets advanced to the quarterfinals.
Somerset Berkley 6, King Philip 0 — Junior Camryn Crook had a goal and three assists, and her older brother Lucas, a senior, added three goals and an assist to lead the Raiders (19-0) to a first-round victory over the Warriors (10-7-3).
Walpole 3, Bridgewater-Raynham 0 — Caroline Whelan scored the opening goal for the Rebels (17-0-2) as they advanced to the quarterfinals against Plymouth North.
Franklin 3, Braintree 2 — Maeve Ledwith tied the game with 11 minutes remaining before Stephanie Bell potted the winner a minute later to give the fifth-seeded Panthers an opening round victory over 12th-seeded Braintree.
John Hand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.