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Paul Bergeron, Aoife Shovlin run to Division 1 victories at All-States

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AYER — Paul Bergeron spent the week leading up to Saturday’s Div. 1 All-State race going over a number scenarios as to how he should contend with Framingham star harrier Sam Burgess.

After trailing Burgess by steps at last Friday’s Div. 1A race in Wrentham, the Westford Academy talent decided to take the race to his rival — hard.

Bergeron surged away from Burgess and St. John Prep’s Nathan Lopez shortly past two miles and neither could answer he lengthened his lead to the finish over the rolling 3.1-mile layout on the grounds of Fort Devens. Bergeron pumped his fist as he captured the title race in a quick time of 15 minutes, 2.58 seconds in cold, sunny conditions.

Burgess was 50 meters back in 15:09.01 and the always tough Lopez clinched the bronze medal with his 15:14.57. Oliver Ames’ Ryan Sarney was a strong fourth in 15:25.24 and teammate Brendan Thomas rounded out the top five in 15:33.37.

The top 14 runners all ran under 16 minutes.

Bergeron was confident he could put together a hard surge and still have more left if the race came down to a sprint on the final straightaway.

“At 2.6 (miles) I was thinking, no fear, no fear,” he said. “The pace (4:44 first mile) wasn’t blistering. I wanted to stay comfortable. Right before the last downhill I just went. It feels amazing to win.”

Pre-race team favorite Brookline didn’t have a finisher in the top 15 — Ben Kasen led the way with 20th in 16:07.8 — but the Warriors’ top five finished within 17 seconds of each other to take the title with 81 points to defeat Westford (120 points) and Newton North (139 points).

The anticipated Div. 3 duel between Uxbridge’s Aidan Ross and Marcus Reilly of Northbridge never materialized as Ross tore through the opening mile in 4:40 with a clear lead. By two miles (9:36) the race was all but over. Ross coasted home the final mile to defend his title in 15:06.45.

Reilly was the runner-up again with his 15:40.37. Littleton’s Timothy Rank captured third in 16:11.26. Lenox took the team competition with 82 points.

Ross will turn his attention to the Nike Cross Country Regionals next Saturday after his lopsided win.

“Me and Marcus raced earlier this year,” said Ross. “I wanted to run fairly fast before regionals and if he didn’t take it out I was going to. I felt good and really relaxed. I saw my coach a quarter mile before two miles and he said I had a 70-meter lead. I knew I wouldn’t lose that in the last mile.”

In Div. 2, Burlington’s Rithikh Prakash fought off Falmouth’s Henry Gartner and Adam Balewicz over the final 100 yards to clinch the gold medal in a mild upset in 15:39.20. Gartner was a second back in 15:40.44 and Balewicz was right there in third at 15:40.63.

Led by Michael Arria’s 11th-place finish in 16:32.12, Wakefield (120 points) edged Danvers (120 points) for the team gold medal. Prakash threw in a number of surges over the final mile, but wasn’t able to shake Gartner or Balewicz.

“I used a bunch of surges to try to take it. They hurt,” said Prakash. “I told myself over the last 400 that I had about 60 seconds left and I went as hard as I could.”

Girls

Fort Devens is becoming kind of a home away from home for Cambridge’s Aoife Shovlin to ply her trade.

After capturing the Bay State Invitational earlier this season in Ayer, Shovlin emerged from a five-runner pack and raced to victory in the Div. 1 All-State event

Shovlin’s time of 18 minutes, 12.97 seconds over the 3.1-mile course came on the heels of a fifth-place finish in last Friday’s fast Div. 1A race. That race was a true burner with the top five finishers all running under 18 minutes.

Needham freshman Greta Hammer was a strong second in 18:16.73 and fellow ninth-grader Abigail Beggans of Wellesley took third in 18:29.34. Brookline’s terrific Camille Jordan was a strong fourth in 18:33.87 and led the Warriors to the team title with 90 points. Wellesley took second (103 points) and Cambridge was third (137 points).

Shovlin wore a huge smile in the finish area after her win.

“At the 1A championsip I let the pack pull away from me so I knew I had to work hard to stay up front,” said the sophomore. “There were a lot of talented runners but we’re all close to each other and have broken 18 (minutes). I definitely had to kick and try to pull away. I was so happy. I was hoping to do that run and I’m so happy I did it.”

To the surprise of no one, Holliston’s Carmen Luisi easily picked up her second consecutive Div. 2 title in 18:27.37. The junior finished 10 seconds in front of runner-up Caroline Collins of Nashoba (18:37.52). Eighth-grade speedster Abby Flagg of Whitinsville Christian had a huge day with her third-place finish in 18:54.87. Holliston defended its team title with 83 points.

“It feels awesome to come back (and win) after last year,” said Luisi, who went through the mile by herself in 5:36. “I usually try to get out fast and see what I can do. I got out well and this is kind of an open course.”

Weston sophomore Alessandr Gavris perservered through a painful cramp in her abdomen to pull out the 18:47.71 win in Div. 3 after taking 13th last fall.

Gavris was in the lead pack of five through a conservative 5:59 opening mile and felt the cramp come on after two miles with Norfolk Agricultural’s Madelyn Germain running in her shadow.

“I had a cramp the last mile and tried to breath through it,” Gavris said. “I was trying to go conservative and be in the mix at the beginning. I definitely wasn’t expecting this. I’m very grateful.”

Germain ran a gritty race to take second in 18:47.71 and Weston’s Olivia Jackson earned the bronze medal in 19:23.68. Evelyn Wool of Bromfield School took fourth in 19:26.82, just ahead of Lenox’s Alice Culver (19:27.54).

The Wildcats ran away with the team title with 59 points, well ahead of Sutton’s 163 points. Weston’s top four runners all finished in the top 25.

“I’m so happy,” said Gavris, who has a personal best of 5:06 in the mile. “We were supposed to win last year, but we didn’t get it.”

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