9/28/19 – 14th Annual Richard Miller Invitational Hosted by Westminster School
Another week of autumnal training conditions ended for Deerfield XC on Saturday with what felt like a summer afternoon. Temperatures soared into the lower 80’s for the second Saturday in a row, slowing all the competitors at Westminster’s Richard Miller Invitational. Westminster’s hilly, serpentine course needed no help from the heat to challenge any racers; it is among the toughest courses in New England due to some very steep hills and unsure footing in places. Deerfield’s harriers competed hard despite the conditions, and they came away with some strong early season performances. With last week’s meet featuring only varsity runners, Westminster provided the first shot for many athletes to race at the 5K distance and set a benchmark for the season ahead.
The girls varsity race led off the day’s events, and before the report from the starter’s pistol had echoed off the far woods, Deerfield’s Maddie Priebe had surged into the lead. She never relinquished her top spot, racing confidently over hills and through trails to win by more than a full minute. Behind Priebe, Ali Thomas ’21 and Jane Mallach ’20 attacked the course together, running the first mile together before separating near the end of the woods. Thomas ultimately finished 7th and Mallach 16th, two good results on such a hot, rigorous day. Tri-captain Erin Howe ’20 was DA’s 4th finisher in 24th place, followed immediately by Jean Jin ’22 in 25th. Only four Deerfield runners toed the line for the JV race, led by 10th graders Aerin Lo and Aurelia Bolton. Lo ran a smart first mile to stay in touch with the leader before passing her in the wooded trails around the midway point of the course. Unfortunately, a wrong turn sent Lo on a mile-long sojourn before she found her way back to the pack to finish in 11th place! Meanwhile, her teammate Bolton ran a smart, gutsy race to finish 6th overall. Fiona Howes ’23 and Julia Ferrante ’20 both finished their first 5Ks of the season to round out the JV ranks.
The boys varsity race started fast in spite of the heat, and Deerfield’s white-clad runners wisely held back to save energy for the hills ahead. Co-captains Jake Meier and Chris Thagard set the pace off the line, allowing their teammates, all of whom were in their first varsity race, to settle into a comfortable rhythm before attacking the hilly sections of the course. When the leaders emerged from the woods with a little under a mile to go, Meier and Giles Gordon ’22 were the first Deerfield athletes to appear. They battled against one another for the last stretches of the race, with Gordon ultimately winning the final sprint to capture 17th overall (Meier was immediately behind in 18th). Chase Cherewatti ’22 wasn’t far behind, racing intelligently and with intensity to finish 21st, followed by Thagard in 38th, Joe Brown ’23 (47th) and Gabe Zaccheo ’22, who fought a pesky hip strain all day to finish in 51st overall. The JV race saw a number of Green & White harriers in their first career 5Ks, though veteran JV runner Jack De Bruyn Kops finished first for Deerfield in 18th place. Newcomers Morgan Haisman ’23 and Jackson Collins ’23 entertained the crowd with a stirring head-to-head sprint at the finish to take 31st and 32nd, respectively, followed by a few more experienced runners: Philips He (43rd), Oscar Depp (46th), and Holden Woodward (55th).
With Canterbury and Westminster under their belts, Deerfield’s cross country teams will transition to the dual meet season next weekend. First up is St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire.