October 1st, 2016 – Richard Miller Invitational at The Westminster School
The invitational season came to a close for the Deerfield boys’ cross country team on Saturday with the Richard Miller Invitational hosted by the Westminster School. Named for Westminster’s longtime running coach, the Richard Miller Invitational features some of the best Division II teams in New England and arguably the most challenging course our boys see all year long. On this particular Saturday, the elements contributed to the challenge: morning rain made the trails and hillsides that traverse Westminster’s campus slick and soggy. At race time, the temperature was comfortably chilly for the competitors, if not the many spectators!
The boys kicked off the day’s racing with the Junior Varsity race, a chance for many newcomers to Deerfield XC to get their feet wet—literally—with their first full 5K, as well as for a few returners to keep working their way back into racing shape. Chris Thagard ’20 led the way for the Big Green JV on the strength of a very strong first mile and a strong close over the final hilly ascent to the finishing stretch. Chris finished 9th overall and was followed closely by his teammate Donnie Sparks ’18 in 11th. Another ninth-grader, Carter Hampson, was the next Big Green harrier to break the tape, finishing his first 5K for Deerfield in 26th place overall. A few more Deerfield runners completed their first full races on Saturday: Neil Nie ’19, Nick Fluty ’20, Jeffrey So ’19, and Seth Thayumanavan ’20 all ran bravely on a tough course to officially inaugurate their XC careers at Deerfield.
The Varsity race was exciting from gun to tape thanks to a close team competition and some thrilling running at the front of the pack. The first mile of Westminster’s course is flat and fast, belying the fearsome hills to come in miles two and three. After co-captain Ethan Thayumanavan ’17 scorched the first half-mile, each team’s Varsity seven settled into their race plans and the fun began. Deerfield’s lead runner and co-captain, Hughes Benjamin ’17, racing for the first time this season after recuperating a minor injury, joined the top runners from Williston, Westminster, and Suffield to pace the field through the first mile. Just behind that lead pack came Ricardo Gonzalez ’19 and Will McNamara ’18, running aggressively to build momentum into the hills. Marco Marsans ’18, Tom Dillon ’18, and Teddy McCarthy ’20 followed in close succession, running as a strong pack. Benjamin entered Westminster’s woods section stride for stride with the leaders and emerged a mile later in the same position. Indeed, McNamara and Gonzalez held their overall positions, too, though the teammates traded the lead between each other a few times before Gonzalez surged ahead with a little less than a mile to go.
At the front of the race, the lead pack strung out toward the finish with Benjamin capturing 4th overall in a strong course PR. McNamara unleashed his trademark kick to barely nip his teammate at the finish line, and Thayumanavan accelerated steadily toward his best career finish at Westminster. Thayumanavan’s finish put four Deerfield harriers in the top ten, a great feat for a promising pack of racers. Marsans closed nicely to capture 21st overall, and, running in their first varsity races, Dillon and McCarthy both made stirring moves across the final two hundred meters to pass runners and finish in 27th and 32nd place, respectively.
Ultimately, Deerfield finished 2nd with 45 points to Williston’s 43. The 2nd place finish was Deerfield’s best at this meet in several years, a great way to close out the invitational portion of our season. With an open weekend next Saturday, Deerfield’s boys will put in two solid weeks of training to prepare for the dual meet season, which begins on October 15th with a double-dual meet against Loomis Chaffee and Choate Rosemary Hall.
For race results visit: http://www.webscorer.com/Westminster