NORTHFIELD -- It may have been a familiar course for North County’s top boys cross country runners, but Saturday’s MIAA Division II State Championship meet had a completely different feel to it.
The entire Mount Greylock squad found itself back on the same course it had run to a Western Mass. title on the week before, but with lots of new faces. Hoosac Valley’s Travis and Trevor Ciempa were also present at the race, running as individuals. They were the only other North County runners joining the Mounties.
"It was crazy, I mean just people everywhere," Greylock’s Carter Stripp said. "There were falls and everything like that. I really think it makes the race more fun. I really like running with all the other teams and seeing how I can run against the kids from out east. I mean there is a little bit better and more competition out there, so it’s fun to race them."
Lenox’s Scott Carpenter won the race, with a time of 15 minutes, 55.75 seconds. Travis Ciempa was the top North County runner, finishing 32nd overall with a time of 17:16.97. He was also the second Berkshire County runner to cross the finish line.
"It’s exciting for me to be here as one of the top Western Mass. runners," said Ciempa, who finished third overall in Western Mass. "I mean I took 32nd out of everyone in Massachusetts. That feels really good for me."
The Division II race featured 177 runners, making it nearly impossible for runners to know where their teammates were.
Trevor Ciempa took 133rd overall. Will Kirby was Greylock’s top finisher, taking 46th in a time of 17:32.09. Stripp grabbed 62nd. Will Nolan (108th), Archer Greenhalgh (120th) and Sam Kobrin (130th) were Grey lock’s other scorers, helping the team to a 14th-place finish. Lenox was the top Berkshire County team, taking 13th place. The Mounties edged out Monument Mountain, who took 15th. Pembroke High School took first overall, placing four runners in the top 10 on the way to victory.
With so many competitors, runners were forced to challenge themselves against new and different competition.
"I was trying to find [Lenox’s] Tucker [McNinch]. I usually pace off of him for the entire race," Travis Ciempa said. "I couldn’t find him out on the course at all. So I picked a different kid and tried to catch him."
He couldn’t find McNinch because he was in front of the Lenox sophomore. He finished 17 seconds and 17 spots in front of his Lenox counterpart. The pair battled for a higher finish several times this season, usually splitting the decisions.
The Hoosac Valley sophomore gained three spots in the final 100 meters of the race, as he picked different runners to try and catch.
Ciempa contributes a larger field and less pressure to his finish.
"I was really chill about the race," he said. "We came here just to have a good time and we did."
Every North County runner cut time off of their Western Mass. finish. According to several coaches, that tends to be the trend at the state meet. It could stem from the fact that there are so many runners.
"When everyone around you is pulling you along, it makes you run faster," Hoosac coach Ron Namislo. "I think being relaxed too. There isn’t that pressure of I have to get second or I have to get third. The pressure is off and they relax."