CHARLEMONT, Massachusetts – Once again the Berkshire League was blessed during this snowless winter by the generous support of alpine mountain Berkshire East, who continues to help keep the season going. This fourth league race, third at Berkshire East, was hosted by the Mount Greylock team who devised a challenging mass start race complete with a chevron start used to create a uneventful embarkment. Once on course the veterans displayed their skills for four laps, while the newcomers contested for three.
As the sun set the boy’s four-lap race got underway to a loud roar with Amherst High School’s Sydney Field moving his way to the front of the pack just before the start of the course’s first major climb. However it seemed like only a matter of time before Greylock’s ‘race hardened’ duo of Luke Costley and Josh Harrington proclaimed themselves at the prow.
“The lead group maintained a relaxed pace throughout the first lap, but with each lap after, picked it up a bit,” said Costley after the race.
While climbing the course’s first major climb on the third lap Costley and Harrington made their move, pulling with them teammate Matt Cheung and leaving a gap back to Field and the rest of the Mounties. As their pace increased Cheung slid back to Field as that pair was now racing for third.
“The race started to break up when Josh and I realized we had a small gap on the rest of the field. From there, we exchanged leads and worked together to stay out in front,” recalled Costley.
Costley and Harrington battled back and forth for the remaining lap and a half before doing their best Petter Northug impersonation, much to the delight of the crowd congregated in the shadows at the finish. Costley, with his final lunge for the line, bested Harrington by just a foot to take the win in 15:31.
“I took the lead coming into the stadium for the last time, and I was able to hold off Josh’s late charge at the line. It was a great change of pace, being able to hold a mass start, and everyone enjoyed the strategic aspect of the race.”
In the duel for third it was Amherst’s Field who got the better of Cheung over the final lap to take the final step on the podium in 16:02. Cheung crossed the line just two seconds after and was followed by three more Greylock teammates as Alex White, Will Kirby and Logan Wilson took fifth through seventh respectively. Following the pack of Mounties was Wahconah Regional High School’s Joshua Pyser and Zach Sears, who continued their impressive improvement this season to finish eighth and ninth respectively. Sean Houston, yet another Mountie, rounded out the top ten.
In the girls’ four-lap race it was less about strategy and more about attrition as Mohawk’s Brenna Keogh once again turned the screws on the rest of the field and put an exclamation mark on her impressive season. Keogh, who started at the tip of the chevron, started hard and never looked back.
“I felt really good about the race, and lucky to be able to hold the lead,” Keogh said. “I tried not to get too nervous, I usually like the relative anonymity of the wave start races.”
Early on Greylock’s Mackenzie Hitchcock and Laura Nolan maintained contact, but by the end of the first lap Keogh was all by herself with the pair of Mounties left trailing together.
“I felt really good about the race, and lucky to be able to hold the lead. I tried not to get too nervous. I usually like the relative anonymity of the wave start races. I am glad to have been able to have some races during my last year in the Berkshire league, despite the terrible lack of snow. My first races in 7th grade were at Berkshire East, so in some ways I enjoy the nostalgia of coming back. Hoping for snow before states,” Keogh added after the race.
By the time Keogh charged to the finish line she had compiled a thirty second margin over Greylock’s Nolan, crossing the line in 18:47. Nolan, who seems to be finding her top form just in time for the State Championship race next week, crossed the finish line in 19:17 with teammate Hitchcock following seven seconds later.
Wahconah’s Katie Cook continued her upward trajectory as she held off a the attack from Mohawk’s Allison Lull. Cook broke the tape in 20:17 for fourth place, just eight seconds faster than Lull. After that it was a trio of Greylock racers, as Alexandra DeVeaux, Stephanie Adamczyk and Sophia Dastoli took places six through eight respectively.
Mohawk’s third skier Alma Crawford-Mendoza and Amherst’s Tulsa Douglas rounded out the top ten.
The three-lap race got started with both genders racing together, which made for some interesting battles out on the course. As they ticked away the laps it was the Mounties Thomas Schoorlemmer that took control of the boys’ race crossing the finish line in 16:12. He was followed by teammate Tommy Kirby, who finished in 16:31, just five seconds faster than Lenox’s Miles Marshall. The Millionaires’ Joe Bouvier and the Mounties Chris Santella rounded out the top five.
In girls’ race it was Greylock’s Grace Smith who once again showed she is ready for the big show, crossing the finish line in 16:28. Her teammate Greta Savitsky followed in second, finishing in 18:53, while fellow Lady Mounties Holly Fischer and Ellie Williams took third and fourth respectively. Lenox’s Renae Carotenuto rounded out the top five.
“HOT Nordic Nights” – Courtesy of Mark Santella