RL’s varsity cross country team capped a perfect season as NEPSTA Division II Champions at the meet hosted by the Berkshire School in Sheffield on Saturday, 11 November. Prior to the meet, the varsity team had completed a 16-0 dual-meet season and won its first ever ISL championship. The JV team entered its final race with a 14-2 dual-meet record and a 1st-place finish at the ISL Championships. (See select photos by John Werner here.)
The Berkshire School course provided a substantial challenge as the first 1.5 miles of the race presented runners with an uphill climb to the summit of Berkshire's "Cardiac Hill." The bright November sun was welcome but it was not enough to bring temperatures out of the mid 30s.
RL's varsity squad once again ran a smart race, establishing position before entering the narrower parts of the course and controlling the pace in the first mile of the race. From the beginning, Ben Lawlor I and Will Cote IV found themselves trailing a strong lead pack but mixing in with the top eight runners. Javi Werner IV, Daniel Gillis III, and George Madison V followed in the second pack of runners and were trailed closely by co-captain Will Connaughton I. Co-captain Robert Crawford I mixed in with a larger pack of runners between positions 35 and 45 early on in the race, setting himself up for an extended kick over the mostly downhill second half of the race.
In the second half of the race, Cote and Lawlor ran together in 5th and 6th places working to chase down two runners ahead of them from Westminster and Thayer. Werner, Gillis, Madison, Connaughton, and Crawford all took advantage of the long downhill to pick up spots before beginning their final sprint to the finish. In the end, the team took 4th, 6th, 13th, 14th, and 18th places in the scoring positions for a total of 55 points. RL's 6th and 7th runners finished 23rd and 32nd. The score of 55 was good for a 1st place finish, marking RL's first New England title since 2006.
RL's junior varsity team also ran an incredibly strong race on Saturday taking individual positions of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th to post a near-perfect score of 16 points.