BILLERICA – There is a long season still ahead for the Shawsheen Tech Girls Cross Country team, but it is unlikely that they will by able to top the drama of their season opening meet this past Wednesday at Shawsheen, when they pulled out a thrilling one point victory over Whittier Tech, downing the visiting Wildcats by a score of 28-29.
The 3.1 mile race was extremely competitive throughout, with the teams trading positions throughout the top ten. In fact, the race was not decided until the Rams grabbed the ninth and tenth positions to pick up some key points and clinch the win.
Whittier’s Noel Tribb took first place overall in a time of 22:55, while Shawsheen senior captain Devin Sweeney was the top Rams finisher, taking second overall in a time of 23:09. After Whittier grabbled a third place finish, fellow senior captain Kaylee Gaffney of Tewksbury took fourth place in a time of 29:36.
Whittier took fifth place, but that was where the race began to turn in the Rams favor, as they took four of the next five spots, including those critical ninth and then tenth positions. Junior Hannah Lyle took sixth overall in a time of 32:37, while freshman Anna Andacic was right on her heels in seventh place in a time of 32:38.
After Whittier took eighth place, Shawsheen came right back to grab the next three positions, with Autumn Halas taking ninth in 34:35, freshman Ayla Thissell in tenth at 34:43 and sophomore Janice Lam in 11th at 34:47.
“That’s a big win for the girls today,” Shawsheen coach Pat Kelly said after the meet. “Obviously we knew what Devin had, and what Kaylee could do, and Hannah, and they all held up their end of the bargain. But we had a lot of inexperienced girls running for us. But having a freshman like Anna finish seventh for us, and then Autumn, Ayla and Janice was huge for us. They beat the people they were racing, and by doing that, we displaced one of the Whittier runners and picked up huge points.
“If any one of them dropped out of the race, or didn’t run as well as they did, then Whittier would have run.”
Gaffney’s performance also can’t be overlooked, as she battled through a hip injury which was causing her tremendous pain, to earn her fourth place finish which also proved to be key for the Rams.
“Kaylee was really strong,” Kelly said. “That was a really strong performance for to finish the race and push through the injury. She pushed through the pain and showed courage and strength. It was very impressive.”
The Rams will be back in action on Wednesday, September 29 when they travel to Greater Lawrence for a key CAC matchup.
The Shawsheen Boys team on the other hand, suffered a heartbreaking loss last Wednesday against Whittier, as despite getting some tremendous individual performances, they dropped a hard fought 26-29 decision to the Wildcats.
Much like the girls team, the boys battled neck and neck with the Wildcats throughout the race, swapping places throughout the top ten spots in the field of 30 runners. After Whittier’s Jack Venturi took first overall in a time of 19:40, Rams tri-captain Joe D’Ampolo took second place in a time of 20:26.
The teams swapped places throughout the top ten after that, with Whittier taking third place, followed by a fourth place finish by junior Ben Hollenbeck in a time of 21:01, while senior tri-captain Adam Ippolito of Tewksbury earned a sixth place finish in a personal best time of 21:10. Sophomore Gordon Noble followed closely behind at 21:21 to earn a seventh place overall finish, while senior John Zembeck rounded out the top ten with a tenth place finish for the Rams in a time of 22:30, followed by sophomore Will Biscan of Wilmington in 11th place in a time of 22:31.
“We just kept switching back and forth,” Kelly said. “One of their guys would come in and then one of our guys would come in. Ultimately what it came down to is we didn’t have the good fortune of the girls to be able to displace their fifth runner. But when I look at the times, it’s incredible just how close everybody finished.
“Gordon Noble out legged somebody at the finish line. Zembeck finished strong, and Adam Ippolito had a great race, finishing just behind one of their guys. Ben Hollenbeck had an impressive start to the season, and Joe went out and ran a great race for us.”
In addition to the Rams top runners, Kelly was also encouraged by the performance of several of the team’s younger runners, such as Biscan, sophomores Kevin Ippolito (24:29) and Donald Alphonse of Tewksbury (24:43), as well as freshmen Noah Brooks of Tewksbury (25:33) and Matthew Fricke (26:12), along with sophomore Ryan Newcomb (26:20).
“Don Alphonse is a sophomore, but has zero experience with cross country and ran a great time,” Kelly said. “Noah and Matt, both ran a great time, while Ryan Newcomb is a sophomore but is new to the team, also ran a great time. Those four guys are going to continue to improve as the season goes on.”
The Rams Boys teams was back in action on Wednesday against Lowell Catholic with results of the meet unavailable as of press time. Their next meet will be on Wednesday, September 29 in a road matchup against Greater Lawrence.
The Shawsheen Tech Golf team has started their season looking very much like a team intent on winning their 17th straight Commonwealth Athletic Conference title, rolling to a pair of victories over CAC foes this past week to get off to a quick 2-0 start.
The Rams opened their season last Thursday at home at Patriot Golf Course with a somewhat surprising rout of Northeast by a score of 150-34, with the Rams blowing out a team that is normally a stiff challenge for them.
Shawsheen was led to victory by sophomore captain Matthew Tramonte of Tewksbury. Tramonte was the low medalist for the round, shooting a 37 and picking up 32 points for the Rams. But Tramonte was not alone in getting the Rams off to a strong start, as they got outstanding efforts throughout their lineup, starting with freshman Tyler Tsoukalas who shot a 40 to pick up 28 points for Shawsheen.
Sophomore Derek Nazzaro of Tewksbury also shot a 40, picking up 26 points for his efforts, while freshman Aidan Fortunado fired a 42 to pick up 23 big points and sophomore Liam Milne shot a 43 to earn 22 points for the Rams.
Shawsheen was back on the course on Tuesday afternoon, once again at the Patriot, and once again their young roster put together an outstanding effort to pick up a 109-80 win over CAC rival Lowell Catholic.
Tsoukalas once again scored very well with a 41, while sophomore Colin Lawson chipped in with a 43 and classmate Sean Schlehuber shot a 45. Milne rounded out the Rams top five scorers with a solid 46.
Shawsheen will be back in action on Thursday when they take to the road for a matchup with CAC rival Greater Lawrence before returning home to host CAC rival Essex Tech next Tuesday at Patriot Golf Course.
There will undoubtedly be some growing pains for the defending CAC champion Shawsheen Tech Boys Soccer team in the early going of the season, as they adjust to an almost entirely new roster after losing several players to graduation. But despite starting the season 0-1-1 this past week, they certainly don’t appear to be overwhelmed by the task, as they put up a pair of tough battles against top CAC contenders.
The young Rams opened their season with a home game vs. Greater Lowell last Tuesday afternoon, and after some early game jitters, they settled down to play a strong second half before falling by a score of 3-2.
The first half belonged to the Gryphons, who scored eight minutes into the game then added a penalty kick score before the half. Things looked tough for Shawsheen when Greater Lowell extended their lead to 3-0 early in the second half.
Bur from that point on, it was all Rams, as coach Tom Severo switched them into a more offensive alignment and it quickly paid off with a goal from junior captain Jeremy Perez, followed by another from junior Cam Camelio to pull within one with 15 minutes to play. Assists on the goals went to junior Joe Woodward as well as fellow juniors Evan Pinto of Wilmington and Noah Rizzo of Tewksbury. Although the Rams dominated the remainder of the game, they were unable to get the equalizer.
As well as they played in the second half against Greater Lowell, when the Rams finally got back on field this Tuesday, they visited Essex Tech knowing they had their work cut out for them as Essex won their opener 10-1 against Mystic Valley, with Mystic normally being one of the top teams in the CAC.
Shawsheen proved no pushover however. Thanks to a Noah Rizzo blast, with assists going to Josh Haerer of Wilmington, along with Nico Georgoulis, Shawsheen got the lead early in the game and held off the powerful Essex attack until the final minute of the game Essex finally managed to beat senior captain and goalie Tyler Kopacz on an absolute bullet from senior Ryan Lovarco.
While disappointed to have to settle for the tie, Severo was very pleased with his team’s dramatic improvement from his young team from game one to game two.
“We had a week between the first and second game and we worked hard in practice to refine our play,” Severo said. “We played with heart and hustle, a sense of urgency and we worked cohesively. This bodes well for the future.”