Massachusetts State Championships: Girls Highlights

Dennis-Yarmouth’s Jordan O’Dea threw down the challenge in the first 100 yards like she’s been doing all fall. The Dolphin senior had nine seconds on the chase pack through a 5:33 opening mile in yesterday’s Div. 2 State Championship meet at Franklin Park. If anyone was going to beat O’Dea, she’d have to make a big move to duel the talented harrier.

O’Dea never budged an inch and captured the individual title in 18 minutes, 34 seconds after taking second to Bishop Feehan’s Viviana Hanley in last year’s race.


O’Dea decided to go hard and establish herself as early as possible. “I was nervous,” she admitted. “In the beginning I knew they were close to me so I tried to go hard the first mile and I maintained as much as I could. My coach said they were more worried about getting a team score. I figured they were just going to let me go.”


Behind O’Dea, the Bishop Feehan tandem of Katie Powell and Abbey McNulty, and Kerry Phelan of Hamilton-Wenham were pushing hard to stay close to her. They passed the mile in 5:42 and were nine seconds behind O’Dea at 2 miles with their 11:54. Powell kicked past McNulty to take second in 18:43. McNulty was third with the same time and Phelan clocked an 18:57 for fourth.


O’Dea was especially strong on the Bear Cage Hill section of the course near the halfway mark. She ran a simulation workout earlier in the week on hills similar to Bear Cage.


“I pushed I up Bear Cage because we’ve been doing a workout on a hill that’s a lot like it. I figured it’s the last time running this course so why not get up it as fast as I could.”


Powell and McNulty led Bishop Feehan to its third state title in a row. The Shamrocks finished with 65 points to Hamilton-Wenham’s79. Erin Svenson was 11th for Bishop Feehan, who put its first five runners in the top 35.


Powell, who has narrowed her college choices to Providence and Stonehill, did her best to run O’Dea down. She wasn’t able to catch O’Dea, but her 18:43 was a personal best on the Franklin Park layout by 16 seconds.


“The first couple of miles were iffy but the last mile I really picked it up,” said Powell. “It was a tough finish but I felt strong. Individually, I was hoping for somewhere in the top three. I got sixth here last year and wanted at least the top three.”


Powell knew matching O’Dea stride for stride was a monumental challenge. “We were going to try to get as close to her as we could and try to catch her,” she said. “I tried to close the gap the last mile. It’s kind of tough because she goes out so strong and was really far ahead. I was trying as hard as I could.”

Bishop Feehan head coach Bob L’Homme figured the team race would come down to the Shamrocks and Hamilton-Wenham. “It was fun,” said L‘Homme. “It was a good thing. We’ve been running pretty good and I knew Hamilton-Wenham has been running really good.”


To absolutely no one’s surprise, Peabody’s Catarina Rocha dominated the Div. 1 race and went on to capture the event with the fastest time of the day, 18:12. Rocha pulled a huge pack of 20 runners through a 5:47 first mile and then pounded out a 5:46 second mile up and over Bear Cage Hill to open a huge lead. Longmeadow’s super talent, Camille Blackman, was 29 seconds behind Rocha with a time of 18:41.


The wind slowed Rocha a bit over the final 300 yards, but it was the win she was more concerned about than time. “Last week was a little faster but that’s ok because of the wind,” Rocha said. “On the last straightaway there was nothing you could really do about it.


“The last time I saw them (the pack) was on Bear Cage Hill. I picked it up and wanted to open the gap going into the third mile. I was going with the pack of girls and once I felt good I went. I felt like I could have (broken 18 minutes) but what am I going to do. It’s just time. I came to win.”


Abby Baker led the Whitman-Hanson girls to the team title with her 19:27 for 15th overall. The Panthers’ top five couldn’t have run much better as they finished within 20 seconds of each other. Whitman-Hanson had 79 points to defeat Wachusett (168) and defending champion Weymouth (177).


Whitman-Hanson coach Keith Erwin was as relieved as he was excited with the win.


“It’s amazing,” said Erwin. “I can’t even begin to describe how I feel. I have been a nervous wreck and trying not to let the girls see that side of me. For them to come out and finish off, what on paper, what we thought we could do.


“It all clicked today. They’ve worked so hard all season. It was well-deserved for them. They all stepped up together and ran well.”



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