Madeline Montague doesn’t consider herself too much of a speedster. The senior from Greenwich Central High in New York feels her strength lies with her endurance for the longer races.
That’s why at the start of Saturday’s 6th annual Ocean State Cross-Country Invitational in Warwick, R.I., Montague wasn’t in a panic stage while she was hovering near the rear of the field of 81 runners in the girls’ Championship Division race.
“I always get caught at the beginning because it’s such a pile up, everyone’s freaked out,” she said. “That usually happens because I am not particularly aggressive at the beginning. I am not a sprinter. It’s hard for me to get out there. But I knew there would be chances around corners and stuff to work my way up. I wasn’t too concerned about it.”
Navigating the muddy, five-kilometer course of Goddard State Memorial Park effectively during the early stages, Montague worked her way to the front by the half-mile mark and then gradually pulled away to victory, registering a personal-best time of 18 minutes, 30 seconds. She was a comfortable 19 seconds ahead of runner-up Anne Johnson of Darien (Conn.) High. The home state’s top finish belonged to North Kingstown senior Aisha McAdams, who placed third at 18:58. Montague becomes the second straight girl from Greenwich Central to win the overall title. In last year’s race, recent graduate Vicky Houser claimed the crown with a time of 18:46. “It feels great,” said Montague, who was fifth in the 2011 race and beat her previous best by close to 50 seconds for the 5K distance. “My goal was to break 18:40 today, so I did.” The moderately flat terrain wasn’t exactly in the greatest conditions to prosper, no thanks to the steady downpours from the day before. “It’s a mud pit!” Montague stated. “There was a lot of weaving. It might have been a little over 5K because I was like zig-zagging, trying not to get stuck in the mud and water out there. But it was okay.”
Led by a 15th-place finish from Casey Ortiz (19:39), Archbishop Wood of Warminster, Penn., copped the team title with a 97-108 win over Glastonbury (Conn.) High. The Vikings’ Megan Connell also cracked 20 minutes with a time of 19:49, good for 19th overall.
In the preceding race, senior Jonathan Green of St. John’s in Shrewsbury, Mass., easily captured the boys’ Championship Division race, breaking the tape with a PB of 15:29. The defending Division I MIAA cross-country titlist held a slight lead over eventual second-place finisher Nathaniel Adams of Lexington (Mass.) High at the mile checkpoint, passed through at sub five minutes. With a few spurts during the next mile, he gradually put some distance on his familiar rival. Green was about 13 seconds ahead of Adams (second, 15:49) by the second mile. “It wasn’t one big surge,” he said. “I just gradually did it…I don’t think there was any one, big decisive surge. It was just throwing in one, throwing in one. I wouldn’t say there was one, big decisive one.”
As a team, the Pioneers defeated second-place Lexington for the team plaque with a 44-72 decision. Following Green across the line was Alex Crowley (fifth, 16:14), Connor Murphy (eighth, 16:40), Kyle Johnson (12th, 16:53) and Alex Couture (21st, 17:08). St. John’s was fourth at last year’s state meet.
“I am happy with how the team is looking,” Green said. “Going in (today) we knew we had a solid one, two, three (runner) and then that four, five, six, seven, we weren’t quite sure who was going to be in it. We still don’t know who is going to be on that team. We are trying to see what will work best for the team and give us the best potential.” Green, who made it to the finals of the Footlocker Nationals last year, is excited about his last season on the trails for St. John’s. “I am looking for big things from my team and individually,” he said. “It’s both those combined that’s going to make it a good season.”
The Championship races were two of 14 events that took place on Saturday. On Friday, the Ocean State Invite featured six middle races. Nearly 4,700 runners from the northeast region competed in the two-day meet.Capital (Conn.) Prep senior Dhahran Velasquez won the boys’ Varsity One race with a time of 16:14. Jackie Burr of Westerly (R.I.) High took the girls’ Varsity One race at 19:03. Velasquez overcame stomach pains at the start en route to his ‘W’. “I kept running,” he said. “I kept trying to ignore the pain. I am really trying to focus on dealing with pain more. The last mile I wasn’t really dead, but I couldn’t move my legs anymore. I kept pushing through it for the most part.”Burr, an 11th-place finisher at last year’s state meet, focused her training during the off-season with hopes of becoming a first-team all-stater at the November championship race. “This summer I have been training real hard,” she said. “I actually took a few weeks off to strengthen some of my core muscles before I got back to running. I have been doing a lot of training. I have been trying to get my mileage up, doing lots of hard workouts. I have been really working hard and I am just trying to stay positive. I am feeling great this season.”
In the boys’ eighth-grade race on Friday, spectators got a glimpse of a future star with David Principe Jr., of Westerly (R.I.) Junior High smashing the course record for the 2K distance with a time of 6:27. Sam Toolin of Wickford (R.I.) Middle School, won the sixth-grade event by a whopping 44 seconds with an impressive 6:59 clocking for the 2K course.