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With meets delayed, cross-country coaches stage mock races; runners set records

The 2020 fall season is off to a promising, if unusual, start for Bromfield’s cross-country athletes. The teams’ first two scheduled meets were postponed due to COVID-19 precautions, but the coaches were determined not to squander an opportunity and came up with creative ways for their athletes to put their summer training to the test. A slew of personal and course records was the result.

The teams’ first two meets had been scheduled against Marlborough High School on Oct. 2 and the Advanced Math and Science Academy on Oct. 7.

Boys cross-country co-captain Julian Iverson. (Photo by Lisa Aciukewicz)

In place of the first meet, boys coach Marisa Steele said the team held a mock race with only Bromfield athletes. This was done to assess the feasibility of the new state-mandated racing format in which runners are spaced out on the start line, start in waves of no more than 10, and finish on a separate finish line from the opposing team.

The Mid-Wachusett League, of which Bromfield is a member, allows each athlete to invite two spectators when competing at their home course, and no spectator is allowed to attend an away meet. Spectators must wear badges proving that they are allowed to be there.

Steele said that this first event went smoothly and gave the coaches confidence that they can safely race against another team.

When the following week’s Oct. 7  meet was also postponed, Bromfield held another time trial, this time as a series of relays. The athletes were divided into two-person teams, and each runner alternated racing a 1.04-mile loop with their teammate until each had completed the loop three times, for a total team distance of 10 kilometers.

Notable performances

Despite the lack of competition from a rival team, both the Bromfield boys and girls saw notable performances. The first week, junior captain Julian Iverson ran a personal course best and won the time trial in 18 minutes, 59 seconds for 5 kilometers. Iverson was followed by junior Nick Russo (19:11), freshman Jack Stahl (20:03), seventh-grader Harrison Binnick (20:11), and eight-grader Ethan Russo (20:54).

On the girls side, senior Kasia Ostrowski pulled together a personal record to lead the team in a 5k time of 21:07. She was followed by eighth-grader Camille Bradley (21:51), seventh-grader Cate Corbett (21:51), eighth-grader Emma Squire (21:59), and sophomore Molly Squire, who rounded out the top five in 22:11.

The boys relay time trial was won by junior-freshman duo Adrian Long and Demetrios Kekis in a combined 10k time of 38:30. The fastest split time was claimed by Stahl, who clocked in at 5:35 for the 1.04-mile loop, and the best combined time of 17:36 went to Iverson.

A young team of eighth-grader Emma Squire and freshman Marissa Flynn swept up the top spot in the girls relay with a combined 10k time of 41:04. Senior captain Helena Justicz ran the fastest split time of 6:08 and Ostrowski logged the top combined time of 19:25.

Bromfield coaches have been keeping a record of the top times run by their athletes on their home course since it was established in 2016, and two seventh-graders disrupted the leaderboards at the Oct. 2 time trial. Corbett ran 21:51, an almost two-minute-30-second personal best, to claim the fastest time on record for a seventh-grade girl. On the boys side, Binnick’s time of 20:11 earned him the same honor.

Girls coach Matt Lynde told the Press in an email that he was impressed with the results he saw over the past few weeks, and attributes them to hard work over the summer. He highlighted Ostrowski’s personal record, which shaved one minute, 55 seconds off her previous best, run last September on Bromfield’s home course. “After running over 500 miles this summer, her hard work and dedication has truly paid off,” he wrote. “To improve her 5k race time by almost two minutes during her senior year is, quite honestly, amazing.”

Bradley and Emma Squire also ran personal bests, with Bradley improving by three minutes, and Squire by 24 seconds.

Steele also said she is thrilled with the performances she saw by the boys. “The kids have been great—working hard and remaining flexible even with the race schedule disruption.” She explained that the average time run by the five scoring athletes at the first time trial was 20 seconds faster than the average from the same time last year. This is especially promising for the team, since most of the top runners will be able to return next year. Six of the top 10 are underclassmen, and three are middle-schoolers.

Building esprit de corps

Equally important to Steele is the team dynamic she sees this year. “We have a solid core of experienced seniors and juniors who are providing excellent leadership for the young runners.” She added that captains Taylor and Iverson have been “doing a great job building team esprit de corps.”

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