Undefeated Boys' XC Team Dominates

Published in the October 31, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


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After dominating the Mid-Wach B league championships on Saturday in Marlborough, the Nashoba Regional boys cross country team will now be gunning for an undefeated dual-meet season and possibly even a state championship.

Chieftain senior and team captain Anthony Raduazo outran all comers at the league meet, winning the 5k distance in 16:52.3. Raduazo finished more than 15 seconds ahead of the next runner, Gardner's Zach Ouellet (17:07.6), who edged junior Joe Doyle of Nashoba (17:07.8) for second place.

Perhaps even more impressive, however, was the overall team performance of the Chieftains, who captured six of the top 10 spots and seven of the top 15 out of a field of 42 runners. Stow was well represented, with strong showings from sophomores Brendon Aylaian (17:26.7 for 6th place) and Coby Horowitz (17:32.2 for 7th), and juniors George Fischer (17:54.8 for 10th) and Alex Papanastassiou (18:26.8 for 15th) for the Chieftains. The Nashoba team's total time of 1:26:53.80 was more than three minutes better than that of second-place Gardner.

“Anthony is probably one of the top runners in the state,” said Chieftain head coach Don Gribbons. “But you don't win meets with one – you win meets with a team effort.”

That effort is all the more apparent when one looks at the precipitous drops in times for the Chieftain runners compared to last year's league meet, in which Nashoba finished second to Gardner. The five Chieftains who competed in both league meets all ran at least 30 seconds faster this time around, with most improving by more than 50 seconds and the team average dropping from 18:24.76 to 17:22.76. The majority of runners from other schools who competed in both meets did not see as dramatic an improvement as the Chieftain runners did.

“We expect some improvement, but that's a lot of improvement over one year,” Aylaian said.

Those strides are also reflected in the team's dual-meet record, which stands at a perfect 11-0 following a victory last Tuesday over Wachusett. The next and final opponent will be the Shrewsbury Colonials, who, incidentally, are also undefeated on the season and also can boast a league title after winning Saturday's Mid-Wach A championship meet. On paper, the Chieftains would appear to have a considerable advantage, as the Colonials' average time in their league meet (18:04.98) was more than 40 seconds slower than that of the Chieftains. But, as any coach will tell you, races are not run on paper.

For his part, Gribbons downplays the significance of a possible undefeated season, resisting the urge to even look up whether that particular accomplishment had been achieved by any previous Chieftain team in his 36 years of coaching at Nashoba.

“Honestly, the dual meet record has never been important to our program,” he said. “We run the hardest schedule possible, so there have probably been 20 years where we've had one loss. I don't know that we've ever had an undefeated year.”

Following the Shrewsbury matchup will be the MIAA divisional meet on Nov. 10 and the state meet on Nov. 17, both in Gardner. Nashoba, currently ranked third in Division 1 by the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association, also placed third against statewide competition at the McIntyre Bay State Invitational in Boston on Oct. 13. In the invitational, the Chieftains' overall team time (1:23.42.00) for the 5k event was just two seconds slower than that of second-place Whitman-Hanson but more than two minutes behind first place Brookline (1:21:12.00), whose runners swept the top three spots in the 338-runner field (Nashoba's Raduazo finished fourth).

“That was the first time they had competed against the best Division 1 teams in the state, and the first time it clearly came home to them how truly blessed they are as a group,” Gribbons said.

Gribbons has nothing but effusive praise for the Nashoba runners, who he says have more than earned everything they've achieved this year.

“They work very hard in practice, and mentally they're very tough,” he said.

But the Chieftains, for their part, say the secret to their success has been good coaching.

“Coach Gribbons gives us great workouts,” Horowitz said. “After a tough workout we might be feeling kind of bad, but on race day we always feel really good.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239