Most of the 3.1-mile cross-country course at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx is composed of gravel, leaving only the beginning of the course, which is grass, as an area where runners could slip. Despite a sunny day, King Philip senior Mike Griffin lost his footing in a patch of mud to start the Northeast Foot Locker Cross-Country Championships on Saturday afternoon.
Griffin, the MIAA Division 1 champion, wanted to stay with the top pack, but now picking himself off the ground, he needed to call an audible.
“In my head I knew I couldn’t make up for it too quickly because I’ll kill myself and I’m not going to be able to have a good race,” Griffin said. “I’ll try to make my way back up, but take my time with it. There was a giant pack in front, so I settled in right behind the big pack.”
After the first mile, Griffin found himself in around 30th place, but he began to make up for his troubling start on the hills in the second mile, coming all the way back to finish in eighth place (15 minutes 32.9 seconds), qualifying for the Foot Locker National Championship in San Diego on Dec. 14.
“Ever since freshman year, I have always wanted to try to make it to cross-country nationals,” said Griffin, who is committed to run at the University of Tennessee. “To be able to do that is outstanding. I’m super excited.”
Marianapolis Prep (Conn.) junior Sydney Masciarelli won the Northeast Regional last year before going on win nationals, as well. On Saturday, Masciarelli, a Northbridge native, finished second with a time of 17:18.7, qualifying for nationals.
“I felt good, I felt strong. Today, just wasn’t my best day,” Masciarelli said. “But not every day you are going to have a good race.”
Massachusetts boys represented well in the freshman/sophomore 5K. St. John’s Prep freshman Nathan Lopez won (16:33.4), while Falmouth freshman Henry Gartner finished fourth (16:41.4) and Belmont Hill sophomore James Donahue came in fifth (16.42.8). In the girls’ freshman/sophomore 5K, Haverhill freshman Finleigh Simonds placed eighth (20:01.4).