How far does the sport of Cross-Country go back in the State of Massachusetts? Believe it or not, it dates back to the year 1911 ! I have compiled a historical timeline for our sport that I hope everyone enjoys.
1911- “The Mystic Valley Cross Country Run for Schools” was the first organized High School competition on record. The schools were Arlington, Stoneham, Woburn, and Winchester competing for the “Championship of Mystic Valley”.
1911- Medford High School claims they are State Champions by defeating Melrose.
1912- Arlington wins the second Mystic Valley Cup, they also claim to beState Champions by defeating Medford by sweeping the first three places. The immortal Gaylord Goldsmith, Joseph Zwinge, and Albert Wonderlich led Arlington to victory. Also this year was the Intercollegiate Cross-Country Championships held in Brookline, Mass. This meet had an ‘’Interscholastic Division”, which was won by Arlington. The teams that attended were Arlington, Providence Technical, Providence H.S., Weymouth, Quincy, Medford, Boston English, and Woburn. This is the beginning of a high school/college relationship that played a significant role in the development of our sport.
1913 A Parade is held through the streets of Arlington to celebrate Arlington High Schools National Championship. Arlington earned the right to compete at the National Championship by capturing the Interscholastic Division at the New England College Championships. Gaylord Goldsmith won the National Championship race and Arlington went on to finish four in the Top 20 to bring home the title. Arlington was coached by “Doc” McCarty, who continued to coach Arlington into the 1950’s.
1914- In preparation for the N.E.I.A.A Cross-Country Championships, a new cross-country course was established in Boston’s Franklin Park. On November 12, 1914, the Boston Globe published the 4.8 Mile course Map. Cross-country running would continue on Franklin Park for the next 97 years and counting.
1915- Somerville and Medford asks to join the first known cross country league named the “Mystic Valley Cross Country League”. Arlington begins to dominate the sport and actually takes high school cross-country to a whole new level. Arlington beats Wakefield at the Mystic Valley Cup and claims to be the best in the State as well as New England Champions. Arlington went on to finish second at the National Interscholastic Championships at Cornell University.
1920- Harvard University started the” Harvard Interscholastic Cross-Country meet.” This meet was a combination of private and public high schools. The teams that attended were Providence Tech, Williston Academy, Wakefield, Brookline, Chelsea, and Worcester Commercial School.
1925- Arlington High School wins the “Harvard Interscholastic Meet”. All high school runners received complimentarily Harvard football tickets after the race.
Arlington also travelled to Hanover, NH to run against the Dartmouth College Freshman team. Arlington captured the first five places. All the courses were around 3 miles in length because they often competed against collegiate runners. Tufts, Northeastern, Springfield, and Dartmouth were some of the high school boys’ competition.
1931-1937 “The Big Five Cup” included Beverly, Melrose, Woburn, Wakefield, and Stoneham. This was the early formation of the Middlesex League.
1935- The first New England Championships was held at Franklin Park. The race was won by Fredrickson from Arlington High School.
1938- The First Annual “Massachusetts High School Cross Country State Championships” was sponsored by Boston University. The race was run at Nickerson Field on the grounds of Boston University. Brockton High School is our first team champion defeating 18 other schools. The first State Champion was Edward Parker from Arlington High School. The prize for performing well earned a trip to the New England Championships. Qualifying for the New England’s was essentially the big attraction right through the 1960’s.
1940-109 Runners competed in the 1940 State Championships.
1941- Brockton High School did not defend their 1940 State Championships at Boston University because the school dropped all their “Minor” sports.
1943- The State Championships were held for the first time at Franklin Park in Boston. James Young from Newton was the first Franklin Park State Champion. He asked his coach to run in the event just for fun. “Sure go ahead but you are the only Newton runner”. Young’s time was 14:06 for 2 ½ miles. James Young had never run more than one mile in his life. The Eastern Massachusetts State Meet has remained at historic Franklin Park since.
1948- The growth of the sport produced a Division I and Division 2 Championship.
1951- In the Class A Championship, heading down the last straight away with a ten yard lead, Arlington’s Bill Squire’s slips on a rock and fell and never got up. “My foot went out from under me and I landed on my face on the road”, Squires told his Coach. 225 runners Started in 1951.
1953- The lead runners in the Class A championship took a wrong turn. “I was almost last when I returned to the right course” said Tommy Tomasian. Tomasian, from Boston Trade,eventually caught up to the leaders and won the Class A title by 70 yards. The controversy caused a special meeting to select runners for the New England Championships.
1959- The Boston Schools had a tradition at their Boston Schools Meet. The winner of the race had to catch some kind of livestock after his race and then take it home by bus. This tradition went on for over ten years. In 1959 Tom Joyce won a duck, after catching it, he rode the MBTA Bus to his house. “Oddly enough the duck gave me no trouble; I put him on the seat beside me. My Mom wants me to keep the duck for awhile, but my Dad had no comment.” said Joyce. Last place received a turtle. In 1951, George King received a rabbit.
1960- Al Fournier of Worcester’s South High defeated defending champ Dave Dunsky of Gloucester to win the Class A Title.
1964- Randolph’s Art Dulong recorded his 3rd straight Class Championship with a record time of 11:04 for the 2 ½ mile Franklin Park Loop. Massachusetts finished six of the top 10 finishers at the New England Championships. Dulong will remain one of the best Champions in the history of Massachusetts. His 4:04 record mile time has stood the test of time.
1967- The Divisional Meets went to Six Divisions and an All State Championship was added. The first All State Champion was James Finlay of Swampscott.
1969- The small, Division 5, school, Foxboro wins the All State Title with 45 points.
1971- The first Girls State Championships were held in Falmouth. Falmouth won the team title. Kathy Whitcomb of Somerville was the first winner. The meet had 55 runners representing 12 High Schools; only 5 schools fielding full teams.
1973- The Boys and Girls State Championships are held at the same location for the first time. Falmouth continued to dominate the girls’ team competition.
1974- Wayland’s Alberto Salazar and Chicopee’s Dan Dillon dueled it out at the All State Meet. Dan Dillon outkicked Salazar in the final 200 meters to win the State crown.
1975- Wayland’s Alberto Salazar and Bromfield’s Lynn Jennings both won All State titles . “There was no real push from anyone, so I probably let down a bit out there” said Salazar who admitted he had hoped to break the record. Fifteen year old Lynn Jennings states, “I guess I always liked running. I can remember running with my father on the beach when I was younger and I could always keep up with him.”
1976- 1250 Athletes and 201 High Schools attended.
1977- Lynn Jennings wins her third All State title. Over 1500 runners and 214 schools compete at the Eastern Massachusetts Championships.
1978-79- Fernando Braz and Lesley Welch became two time All State Champions, incredibly they both were from Peabody High School.
1981- Proposition 2 ½ had a major effect on Massachusetts School sports. The 1981 All State Meet was cancelled but some coaches decided to have an “Unofficial All State Meet” at Franklin Park. The meet was sanctioned by The Athletic Congress and was organized by the Falmouth/Perrier Track club. Most of the State’s best showed up in the rain to run in the “Unofficial All State Meet”
1984- In the closest and most thrilling race in the History of the State Championships, George Grant of Catholic Memorial edged Bill Crowley of Seekonk. Both runners finished with the identical time of 15:42 on the Hilly Northfield Course. “I decided to kick whenever he kicked and he kicked early. God I was glad when that finish line finally arrived” said George Grant.
1986-The 1986 State Meet will go down as one of the most controversial State Finals. When runners arrived in Central Massachusetts, the snow covered Golf Course could not be used. Officials decided to make the race into a 5k road race. The Eastern Massachusetts Coaches wanted the meet moved to Franklin Park. Scott Cody and Kristen Seabury were “State Road Race” Champions. Notre Dame Academy from Hinghamcaptured their 3rd straight All State Title.
1990- Andy Downin, a Duxbury soccer player, scored the winning goal in 5 overtimes late Friday night in the MIAA soccer Tournament. Saturday morning he laced up the cross country spikes and won the Division III State Championships. The MIAA no longer allows an athlete to participate in two sports in the same season.
To accommodate the growing sport and to produce more champions, the Coaches agree to add a Small School Division at the All State Finals. Some coaches were upset that crowning a “True Champion” would never happen again. Small school coaches were excited about the future.
1991- Dighton-Rehoboth’s Carey Hollinshead became the only 4 time All State Champion.
1992-Franklin Park was host of the 1992 World Cross Country Championships. The City of Boston renovated the park to accommodate the event. Lynn Jennings, from Bromfield H.S., was crowned World Champion on the same course she won two State Championships on. The High School 5k course moved both the start and finish lines just outside White Stadium.
1995- The current Franklin Park 5k course was established
1997- Boston English’s Abdirizak Mohamud became a two time Footlocker National Champion.
1998- Andy Powell, from Oliver Ames, sets the current 5k course record at the Eastern Massachusetts Meet. Powell’s time was 14:52. The following week at the All State Meet in Gardner, Powell locked horns with Lynn Voke’s Franklyn Sanchez in a classic battle. Powell edged Sanchez for the State Title.
1999- Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan set a Franklin Park course record with a time of 17:08.
2000-2001- The MIAA All State Championships signed a two year commitment with Tufts University to hold the All State Finals on “The Farm Course” in Grafton, MA. The course was at Tufts University Veterinarian School and a potential “neutral” home for the future. The course had mixed reviews and the inner struggles with Tufts University staff had the States heading back to Boston in 2002.
2002-In the first time in the history of Massachusetts Cross-Country, a disqualification occurred that resulted in deciding a Champion. The controversial battle between Archbishop Williams’ Sean Quigley and Southwick’s Andrew Pitt happened as they battled towards the finish line. "He came across my path and tried to run me off the course,"said Quigley, right after coming across the line. "When the young man from Southwick was coming down the stretch, he elbowed the young man from Archbishop Williams in the chest; that is why he was disqualified," said State Director Mary Grant. "Cross-country is a non- contact sport."
2003- Bishop Feehan wins both Boys and Girls All State Title. The first time a school has accomplished that feat.
2005- The Mass State Coaches Meet moved to the Wrentham Developmental Center. The Mass State Track Coaches Association relocated the Coaches Invitational off of historic Franklin Park because Wrentham was more suitable for the size of the growing sport. A few struggles with city officials over parking logistics and financial issues did not help matters.
2010- Bishop Feehan Girls won their 2nd straight All State Title and Sixth straight Eastern Mass Championship. Mansfield’s Shayne Collins joins his brother Ryan (2005), and Father Walter Collins (1977) as Eastern Massachusetts State Champions. The Eastern Mass Meet added two more division, it now has six divisions just like the 1960’s.
2011- The First Annual Bob McIntyre Twighlight Invitational was held under a lit up Barnstable Fairgrounds on Cape Cod. The atmosphere was electric, the times fast, and the competition was tremendous. The race will be back on the schedule in 2012.
Bishop Feehan Boys and Girls are All-State Champions again! They have accomplished that for a second time, the first was in 2002. The Feehan girls team has won three straight All-State titles.
After reviewing articles going back to 1911, I am truly amazed at the work of the Arlington Coach William “Doc” McCarty. Coach McCarty was ahead of his time winning many State, New England, and even National Championships. He continued to Coach Cross-Country at Arlington for close to 50 years. Coach McCarty has coached many incredible athletes, including two of the most famous Arlington runners, World Class Distance Coach Bill Squires, and Boston Marathon Legend Johnny Kelley. He was a true pioneer and a legend in Massachusetts Cross-Country history. William “Doc” McCarty’s dedication and diligence to the sport is still present today attracting thousands of high school participants each fall to follow the footsteps of those who ran before.
Notes: Boston Globe, Boston Herald, George Rose, and just many years of coaching contributed to this timeline.