Nashoba Boys' X-C Places 3rd in State

Published in the November 21, 2007 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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The Nashoba Regional boys' cross country team capped a magical 2007 season with a third-place team finish Saturday at the state championship meet in Gardner.

Senior Anthony Raduazo finished fifth to lead the Chieftains, with a time of 14:33 for the 2.9 mile course that was just eight seconds behind overall winner Robert Gibson of Brookline.

“That was one of the most competitive finishes I've seen in 36 years of coaching,” said Chieftain head coach Don Gribbons.

As Gribbons is fond of saying, however, a cross country team needs more than one strong runner in order to succeed, and Saturday's performance was no exception. Key to the team's top-three finish were impressive showings by sophomores Brendon Aylaian and Coby Horowitz, both of Stow. Each competed the course in 15:17, with Aylaian edging his teammate at the line.

“The story of the day was the two sophomores,” Gribbons said. “They just were tremendous. Most of the kids in front of them were all seniors. They were right up there with the best in the state.”

The story of the day very easily could have been how, after an undefeated dual-meet season and a first-place finish the previous weekend at the Central Mass championship meet, the Chieftains' luck finally ran out. Early in the race, junior Joe Doyle lost a shoe when his foot was stepped on by another runner, and ended up finishing 42 seconds slower than he had the previous week at the Central Mass meet (which was held on the same Gardner course).

“He did a magnificent job under the circumstances,” Gribbons said. “Most kids would have just given up. But you just can't really recover from something like that.”

That mishap may well have cost Nashoba second place in the state meet, which went to Whitman-Hanson – the same team that nudged the Chieftains out of second place at the Bob McIntyre Bay State Invitational meet in Boston in October. But the efforts of Aylaian, Horowitz, junior George Fischer (also of Stow) and seniors David Breen and Chris Sullivan made sure the Chieftains would slip no further than third. First place, to no one's surprise, went to perennial power Brookline, which had four runners placing in the top 10.

For a relatively small school like Nashoba (885 students) to be able to compete at all with schools like Brookline (1891 students) is a testament to the Chieftains' talent and hard work, Gribbons said.

“It's been a very very long time since any school even close to our size has managed to do as well as we've done,” he said. “Brookline is a huge school, very well coached, and they're always good but this year they're just fantastic.”

Having run the same course the previous week was a decided advantage for all of the Central Mass teams, Horowitz said.

“We knew all the turns. I saw some other kids looking around, to see if they were doing the right thing,” he said. “I was able to work some of the hills more, because I knew how they ended up. Some of them weren't as hard as I had thought the first time, and some of the straightaways were easier since I'd already run them.”

Since the site of the state meet rotates among the three regional sites every year, at next year's state meet in Boston teams like Brookline will have the home-course advantage. But having competed in the Bob McIntyre invitational meet this season, the Chieftains who return next year will have a familiarity with the Boston course that they wouldn't otherwise have had, Gribbons said.

Gribbons, who will officially retire from teaching this week, admits it's probably premature for him to be talking about next year's team. Then again, Gribbons and Ley Ricker, who has also retired from teaching, were already discussing the upcoming indoor track season less than 24 hours after the cross country season had ended.

“We talked about the meet for about two seconds, and then we moved on to winter track,” Gribbons laughed.

Many of the Chieftain cross country runners will also be competing on the indoor track team, which starts practicing on Monday. That leaves a few more days to revel in what has been an unprecedented cross country season.

“I'm going to sit back and enjoy it for a little bit,” Aylaian said. “But I'll be back up and running again soon.”

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