9/22/18 – Canterbury Invitational hosted by The Canterbury School
What a difference a week makes! As calendars flipped from summer to fall, the weather followed suit, and Deerfield’s harriers were met with ideal conditions for a cross country meet at the Canterbury School on Saturday. The Canterbury Invitational annually draws dozens of independent schools from around the Northeast for a competitive early season test. The meet only features varsity races, so seven athletes from each school compete; this year, Deerfield’s seven earned 6th place in the Division I (larger schools) race.
The first mile of Canterbury’s course wends around their playing fields, completing a loop around soccer and football fields with many turns but only a few gentle inclines to challenge the runners. As a result, the opening mile is typically fast: this year was no exception: the lead pack went through the one-mile mark in about 5:10. Ricardo Gonzalez ’19 nestled himself right in the heart of that group of ten runners and stayed there as they descended from the opening mile and into the hilly, wooded section of the course. Behind Gonzalez came Charlie Lewis ’21, followed by a pack of Deerfield runners led by JJ Siritantikorn ’19.
The lead pack gradually thinned as it traversed the many ups and downs of the middle mile, but Gonzalez held tough until only five runners, one mile, and one big hill remained. The long climb back toward the starting and finishing area proved the decisive moment for the race. The eventual winner, a junior from Loomis Chaffee, and runner-up pulled away from the remaining three leaders, and emerged together on the upper level of Canterbury’s fields with about a half-mile to go. Gonzalez followed a few seconds later, trailed by a runner from the Hopkins School. Those two dueled it out over the last loop and into the finishing chute, where Gonzalez ultimately took 5th overall. It was his best time at Canterbury and a great start to his competitive season.
About a minute later, Lewis finished his strong effort, capturing 26th place in his debut race on the Canterbury course. Then came a pack of Deerfield runners who worked well together throughout the race and finished with strong kicks: Tomas Lyons took 30th in a near-personal best time, followed by tri-captains Tom Dillon (31st) and JJ Siritantikorn (34th). Dillon improved by almost a minute from his 2017 Canterbury effort, and Siritantikorn raced bravely after battling a head cold all week.
Mat Panikar ’21 was Deerfield’s sixth man on Saturday, running a strong debut at the 5K distance for the 2018 campaign, and he was followed by junior Jake Meier, who appears to be racing himself into shape: he dropped more than a minute off his time from last week on a much more challenging course.
Next weekend, the entire Deerfield squad will get a shot at a full 5K on The Westminster School’s challenging course. Westminster hosts the Richard Miller Invitational each year, and the Big Green is excited to build on some good early performances and see what their talented newcomers can add to the mix.