Cross country: Previewing this weekend’s MIAA state divisional qualifying races

Northampton’s Maeve O’Neil is one to watch this weekend at the MIAA Division 2 state qualifier in Wrentham.

Northampton’s Maeve O’Neil is one to watch this weekend at the MIAA Division 2 state qualifier in Wrentham. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE


Staff Writer 

Published: 11-10-2023 6:49 PM

The chill in the air around this time of November can mean only one thing — the cross-country postseason is upon us. 

Three local teams will compete in the MIAA Division 2 Cross Country Divisional Championships on Saturday at Wrentham Development Center for a chance to earn a coveted spot at the state championship meet the following weekend. Amherst, Holyoke and Northampton are all sending at least one team to compete at the Division 2 sectional, with Amherst and Northampton sending both a boys and girls team and Holyoke sending a boys team, along with one individual runner in the girls race. 

The meet is divided into three waves – 2A, 2B and 2C, which will compete at different times. Holyoke will compete in Division 2A with the boys race scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and the girls race starting at 12:15 p.m. Both Northampton and Amherst will race in 2B, with the boys race slated for 1 p.m. and the girls race capping off the day at 1:45. Award ceremonies will follow every division’s races, with the 2A award ceremony beginning at 1:15 and the 2B award ceremony following the conclusion of the 2B girls’ race at 2:45. 

The top seven teams in each division will automatically qualify for the state championships next week. Two wild card teams will also advance – the fastest eighth place team from the 2A, 2B and 2C races, along with the second fastest team, whether that be one of the two remaining eighth-place teams or the ninth-place team that finished immediately behind the first wild card team. The fastest time will be calculated by adding together the cumulative times of the first five runners of each team. Ten individuals from each wave not on qualifying teams will also advance to the state championship meet. 

 Holyoke’s Elijah Quinn medaled at the PVIAC championships two weeks ago, placing 10th with a time of 16:54, and should be in contention for an individual spot at the state championship meet next week. 

Northampton’s Theodore King-Pollet is a favorite for a top spot in the meet; the senior finished second in a time of 15:55 at the  PVIAC meet. Amherst’s top performer at the PVIAC meet was Will Larson, who took eighth place in 16:46, and should lead the charge for the ‘Canes. 

Calvin Miller, Nico Lisle and Samuel Woodruff are other Amherst runners to keep an eye on, as well as Northampton’s Davis Wheat. 

On the girls’ side, Northampton’s Maeve O’Neil (20:07) and Amherst’s Elizabeth Sawicki (20:42) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at the PVIAC championships, and should be eyeing medals on Saturday afternoon. Both squads are also serious contenders for top team finishes – the ‘Canes won the PVIAC meet a mere two points ahead of runner-up Northampton, and barring something catastrophic, both should earn qualifying spots at the state meet. 

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Other top performers to watch out for include Northampton’s Mairead O’Neil, Tess Geis-Benton and Charlotte Shimpach and Amherst’s Isla Cusick and Maya Tkachenko Coggeshall-Burr. All five of those runners medaled at the Western Mass meet, setting the stage for a battle in Wrentham. 

Division 3

Eight different teams will compete at Northfield Mountain in the Division 3 state qualifying meet – Belchertown, Easthampton, Frontier, Gateway, Granby, Hampshire, Hopkins Academy and PVCICS will all bring both a girls and boys team to race for a chance at the state meet. 

Both Belchertown girls and boys teams will compete in Division 3A. Hampshire and Frontier’s boys teams will both compete in Division 3B; Smith Vocational boys and girls teams are also listed in Division 3B but do not have submitted rosters. Easthampton, Granby, Gateway and PVCICS boys will all race in Division 3C. Hampshire and Smith Vocational girls will be in 3B, while the Frontier girls will race in 3C along with Easthampton, Granby, Gateway and PVCICS. Hopkins did not have a box listed, but should race both a boys and girls team and will likely be in either Division 3B and 3C. 

The 3C boys race will start at 10:00 a.m. followed by the girls race at 10:45 a.m. The Division 3A boys race is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. with the girls race scheduled for 12:15 p.m., and the Division 3B races will conclude the day, with the boys race scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and the girls following at 1:45. The award ceremony for 2A will take place at 11:45 a.m., for 3B at 1:15 p.m. and for 3C at 2:45. 

Belchertown’s Kami Wlodyka had the top time in the PVIAC championship race, placing second overall in 20:14, and is in the running to be a top finisher on Saturday. But it’s not just Wlodyka who should be a contender – Hampshire’s Kathleen Barry, Frontier’s Leah Gump and  Sylvie DiBartolomeo, Granby’s Addison Hill and Hopkins’ Caprial DiBartolomeo all medaled at the Western Mass meet, and should be in the upper echelon on Saturday. Also worth watching will be Hampshire’s Sicily Chase and Frontier’s Nicole Plasse and Liv Christensen, who all finished just short of a medal at Western Mass. 

Frontier and Hampshire placed third and fourth, respectively, at Western Mass, and both squads are aiming to get their full teams into the state meet.

On the boys side, Frontier’s Evan Hedlund and Luke Howard both finished in the top 10 at the PVIAC championships, placing second and sixth, respectively, and are the two local favorites to medal in the Division 3C race. Another individual to watch will be Granby’s Nathan Hutchinson, who finished 12th to medal at Western Mass. PVCICS’ Grafton Tolopko, Hampshire’s Oscar Schiff  and Benjamin Les for Belchertown all broke 18 minutes in the Western Mass. meet and should be in the mix on Saturday. 

Where things will get interesting in the boys race is the depth that teams like Belchertown, Frontier and Hampshire have. Hampshire’s pack running strategy earned the Raiders third (99 points) at Western Mass., followed by Belchertown in fourth (148) and Frontier in fifth (165). All three schools have the potential to qualify as teams for the state meet, especially with two team wild card spots.  

Rosters of all teams competing on Saturday are listed below: 


AMHERST BOYS: Elias Katsaros, Will Larson, Nico Lisle, Calvin Miller, Yoh Morita, David Pinero-Jacome, Owen Platt, Alden Pope, Sam Woodruff, Kyle Yanko

AMHERST GIRLS:  Isla Cusick, Felix Goeckel, Claire Kennedy, Addie Mager, Brooke Nedeau, Lillian Pope, Elizabeth Sawicki, Maya Tkachenko Coggeshall, Ava Zimmerman, Eliza Zimmermann

HOLYOKE BOYS: Sakare Anderson, Pablo Tapion, Nathan Knowlton, Jordan Orsini, Elijah Quinn, Manuelle Rivera

HOLYOKE GIRLS: Genesis Rivera

NORTHAMPTON BOYS: Henry Daggett, Owen Daggett, Gus Frey, Theodore King-Pollet, Elias Krasny, Xander Lane, Jonathan Parker-Yourga, Alex Sirois, Acer Verson, Davis Wheat

NORTHAMPTON GIRLS: Xiaohan Brunton, Zoe Engel, Tess Geis-Benton, Lily Green, Sarah Molnar, Maeve O'Neil, Mairead O'Neil, Charlotte Shimpach, Summer Sorensen, Ursula von Goeler


BELCHERTOWN BOYS: Tyler Benedetti, Nathan Fernandes, Derek Gould, Ryan Gould, Trent Harper, Liam Howard, Benjamin Les, Noah Les, Miles McNamara, Ty O'Donnell 

BELCHERTOWN GIRLS: Katherine Dorman, Aubrey Harrington, Lucia Hellyar, Gina Moson, Cameron Ting, Kami Wlodyka

EASTHAMPTON BOYS: Joshua DeSimone, Liam Dopp, Landen Ellsworth, Parker Jourdain, Will Jourdain, Alex Major, Roman Powers-Moran, Jack Skowron, William Wyman

EASTHAMPTON GIRLS: Gwen Banz, Katie Cleland, Halle Fink, Julianne Markee, Molly Marsh, Ivy McGee, Alexandra Quinn

FRONTIER BOYS: Oliver Brown, Brendan Carey, Charles Dennis, AJ Desmond, Evan Hedlund, Luke Howard, Caleb Libbey, Amory Maxey, Leland Murphy,  Adam Paul 

FRONTIER GIRLS: Mary Burt, Liv Christensen, Maia Christensen, Sylvie DiBartolomeo, Leah Gump,  Sasha Malo, Una Millette, Kiera Nugent, Nicole Plasse, Phoebe Radner

GATEWAY BOYS: Jeffrey Antonellis, Jesse Balboni, Adam Forgue, Lucas Gilbert, Liam Hourihan, Jacob Maynard, James Von Deck 

GATEWAY GIRLS: Leah Fulton, Charlotte Hansen, Rylan McCaul, Anya Niles, Lily Peloquin, Hannah Primack, Abby Robbins, Ashley Tacke, Sawyer Wilkinson, Alexandra Zajko

GRANBY BOYS: Nathan Benson, Colby Carleton, Nathan Hutchinson, Micah Litovich, Pax Stark, Trevor Sullivan

GRANBY GIRLS: Quinlin Cook, Rowan Cook, Josie Curran, Audree Flowers, Addison Hill, Aurora Lee, Stella Siudak 

HAMPSHIRE BOYS: Nick Brisson,  Tim Cahill, Aidan Conklin,  Owen Cubi, Gavin DaFonte, Nicholas Elias-Gillette, Zach Jones, Jack Laliberte, Adam Muller, Oscar Schiff 

HAMPSHIRE GIRLS: Kathleen Barry, Keegan Butler, Sicily Chase, Talia Craig, Natalie Dunlap, Alexandra Henrichon, Amelia Perry, Kaylee Rooney, Lucy Skawski, Estella Steffenhagen

HOPKINS ACADEMY BOYS: Deegan Austin-Dietz, Jack Cyz, Grant Donta-Venman, Jackson Graham, Christopher Rex

HOPKINS ACADEMY GIRLS: Emily Cain, Caprial Dibartolomeo, Aurora Donta-Venman, Ri Horgan, Jayce Lanzafame, Izzy Salgado

PVCICS BOYS: RJ Allen, Owen Bauman, Ayden Klatte, Kristof Knyt, Thomas Nuesslein, Alexander Rachele, Frank Sup, Asa Taggert, Grafton Tolopko, Gaius Turner 

PVCICS GIRLS: Nina Dejnak, Sarah Fardal, Calista Harkins, Mahri Hayden, Astrid Knyt, Eunice Lo, Ellery Maier, Grace Rachele, Althea Turner, Emma Vasovic