BOSTON — Good strategy translated into a great race for Andover senior Maggie Mullins at the Division 1 All-State meet yesterday.
Staying near sensational junior and eventual champion Catarina Rocha of Peabody as long as possible, Mullins ran a steady race from start to finish to come in third on Franklin Park’s 5K course in 18:45, which is one place better than last year.
“I’m pretty happy — I wanted to do better than last year,” said Mullins. “I went out a little slower than last week and I wanted to stay with her (Rocha) a little longer, which I think I did.”
At the mile mark, Mullins was in second place, right behind Rocha, a niece of former Peabody great and Lawrence coach Fernando Braz, but Rocha pulled away with a strong second mile to win going away in 18:12. Longhmeadow senior Camille Blackman overtook Mullins in the final mile to take the runner-up spot in 18:41.
Mullins, the MVC Division 1 Runner of the Year, looked relatively fresh after the race and said she still has one more good performance in her for this fall, hopefully next week when Andover competes as a team in the Nike East regional in New York.
That she held with the Peabody star so long was impressive because Rocha is on her way to becoming the latest great Mass. female runner. The All-State runner-up last year, Rocha was eighth at the Foot Locker regional a year ago and should be one of the top runners in the country next year.
Also running a solid race for Andover yesterday was sophomore Leila Aruri, who came in 31st in 19:51. She was the fourth sophomore finisher in the race.
“She (Aruri) has really had a great season,” said Andover coach Leo Lafond. “She keeps getting better and better.”
Solimine paces Hillies
In her first year of cross country, Haverhill junior Jackie Solimine capped a terrific season by finishing 14th in 19:24. Running at a steady 6:15 pace, she was 12th at the mile mark and pretty much held her ground throughout the race.
“I was hoping to be in the top 10 and break 19:20, but I’ll do that next year,” said Solinine. “I’m pretty happy with the way things went. I never thought in the beginning of the year that I’d do this well.”
Haverhill coach Mike Maguire thinks that Solimine has plenty to be happy about.
“She’s still learning, but she’s made adjustments,” said Maguire. “To run her best time in her toughest race is a great way to cap the season.”
Missing two key top five runners with injuries, Haverhill still finished 11th as a team. Bridget Twomey complemented Solimine by placing 33rd in 19:53 and Samantha Kelleher came in 75th.
“I think we rebounded from some adversity and we made it here, which is a good accomplishment,” said Maguire.
Whitman-Hanson easily won the team championship, with 93 points. Masconomet was an impressive fourth and Chelmsford was sixth. Central Catholic freshman Tiffany Simione ran a solid race to finish 65th.
Pentucket’s Morse fades
Running in the Division 2 All-State meet, Rebecca Morse felt the effects of a week-long illness and slipped to 37th place. Morse was with the leaders for the first mile but didn’t have the strength to keep up the pace, finishing with a time of 20:01.23.
Dennis-Yarmouth junior Jordan O’Dea was the individual champ in Division 2, taking the lead from the start and gradually extending it, finishing in 18:34.89.
Bishop Feehan captured the team title with 63 points, 16 fewer than runner-up Hamilton-Wenham. Pentucket finished 11th in the 19-team field. Impressive freshman Kelsi McNamara complemented Morse by coming in 50th in 20:27.
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