Complementing last week's Speed Classic was Saturday's MSTCA Winter Distance Classic. All races, 1,000m and longer, were run along with the 4x800m relay and the shot put throw. The emphasis on distance rivaled Friday's Holiday Challenge but presented the perfect opportunity for Winter Break legs to get moving before the return to school following the welcoming of the New Year.
The lone field event at the Distance Classic earned Kennedy Johnson (33'-8.25" - MA#18) of New Bedford a season's best throw and an event win. Wilmington's Amie Russell (31'-5.75") and Chelsea's Masireh Ceesay (29'-5") were the only other two throwers to clear 28 feet on the afternoon. Meanwhile, the boys shot put was run by Wachusett, having placed four athletes in the top five. Junior George Shabo (43'-1.5") reached a season's best to claim the win while teammate Connor Everidge (42'-2.25") in third place helped sandwich the long non-Wachusett thrower atop the podium: Somerset-Berkley's Shane Neto (42'-2.5").
The marquee event of the afternoon featured a new MA#2 courtesy of a near-solo effort by Walpole's Shane Grant (2:35.54). Winning by seven seconds, the Rebel junior earned a strong personal best mark, continuing a breakout season that puts Grant on the statewide radar. Charlestown's Victor Baez (2:42.45) and North Andover's Kevin Wong (2:43.16) ran to season bests in the same section to finish second and third.
Last year's Division 4 runner-up, Julia Hovasse (3:05.58) of Burlington, began to take shape as she won the 1,000m by carefully separating herself from the rest of the field. Her seasons PB relocated her in the state to a MA#5 ranking. Natick's Caroline Fleming (3:10.11) won a close race over Chelmsford's Caroline Robinson (3:10.72), with the third place finisher earning herself a MA#15 time on the season.
Bishop Stang's Aidan O'Malley (4:42.21) found himself approaching sub-4:40 for the first time as the sophomore used a powerful second half to beat out Lunenburg's David Gardner (4:44.39). Chelmsford's Andrew Madsen (4:46.05) earned the third place finish. In the girls race, Schuyler Gooley (5:13.96) of Hopkinton is putting the state on notice. The Lady Hiller controlled the field from start to finish, running away with a MA#4 time on the year. Auburn's Ally Anusauskas (5:23.10) and Marshfield's Sofia LoVuolo (5:24.51) were the lone chasers from the lead pack trying to close the gap to Gooley; but their work rewarded them with second and third place finishes in the Classic.
The 16-lap contest finished up the individual events while also producing more MA Top 10 times. Leading the charge was Hopkinton's Alex Brown (9:45.89). The Tri-Valley League's Cross Country Runner-Up ran an indoor personal best, only four seconds off his outdoor best time, to lead the three top finishers to sub-10:00 times. Brown moved himself into MA#5 while Zach Conant (9:57.90) of Westwood and Tyler Sullivan (9:57.98) of Walpole utilized Brown's pace to earn a sprint finish towards season best times. The pair now sit at MA#14 and MA#15 as the 2018 portion of the season draws to a close.
Westwood's Sarah Conant (11:07.69) earned bragging rights against her brother, Zach, claiming the Distance Classic title and a MA#5 time on the year. She did so with Brookline's Vivian McMahon (11:12.93) breathing down her neck but running out of real estate to upset Conant. But regardless, the time moves McMahon to MA#7 while Groton-Dunstable's Sydney Adams (11:39.48) gets back on track following a successful freshman year campaign, to earn a third place finish and a MA#14 rank.
Despite the fast times set at the Boston Holiday Challenge, the top MA schools started to take shape prior to the State Relays starting in a couple of weeks. Saint John's Prep (8:21.77) was pushed by Brookline (8:26.19) in the fast heat to finish 1-2 in the Distance Classic, breaking MA#1 and MA#2 marks as they crossed the line. Milford (8:36.61 - MA#6) grabbed the last of the top three positions in the boys race, being left to chase the leaders and lead the rest of the heat.
Running solely against the clock, the Walpole (9:55.28) girls foursome won the girls 4x800m relay by almost 33 seconds. Despite needing to navigate through the field while lapping other teams, the Lady Rebels were able to run away with a MA#3 time. Brookline (10:28.95) and Hopkinton (10:29.36) made their own race behind the Rebels, packed up with fourth place Milford (10:32.80) as well. But the Warriors and Hillers gave themselves opportunities to run season bests times, in MA#13 and MA#14 performances respectively.