LOWELL — In a span of six days, the Tewksbury Memorial High School boys' cross-country team went 1-2, first losing to the state's best program over the past decade in Lowell last Wednesday, before splitting in a home tri-meet on Tuesday afternoon, edging out Andover by a point, but falling to Central Catholic.
The 1-2 mark puts the Redmen at 3-5 overall.
In the tri-meet, Tewksbury defeated Andover, 28-29 and were defeated by Central, 20-39.
“It was a tight race between us and Andover,” said head coach Peter Fortunato. “I thought we'd give Central a tougher race but they ran much better than us. Andover also gave us their best effort as well. Going into the race, I thought we'd beat Andover and have a shot at beating Central. We escaped the day by barely stealing a close win against Andover and getting beating up pretty good by Central.”
In the tri-meet, Gustavo Tizotti finished first for Tewksbury and second overall with a 14:42 time over the 2.75 mile course. He was followed by the much improved Zach Connolly, who was seventh at 15:30, and then Will Andella was 10th at 15:33. After that came Brice Boudreault (14th, 16:00), Patrick Killion (22nd, 16:18) and another much improved runner, Tristan Leslie (25th, 16:29).
“Guys who ran extremely well were Gustavo Tizotti, Tristan Leslie, and Patrick Killion,” said Fortunato. “Gustavo continued to lead the way as our number one runner and went head-to-head with Central's top guy. Patrick Killion, who is a senior, had one of his best races coming in as our fifth guy. Patrick has had a great year and has made huge improvements. He worked his tail off all summer and he is benefiting from that now.
“Tristan Leslie, who is a freshman, is improving every single week. This week he found himself mixing it up with the varsity runners and was our sixth runner on the day. I am excited to see where Tristan ends up by the end of the season.”
In the 18-43 loss to Lowell held at Shedd Park's tough course, Tizotti was again the team's top performer and was fourth overall coming in at 16:04. Connolly had arguably his best performance of the season finishing sixth overall at 16:29.
"Gustavo closed the second half of his race," said Fortunato. "He was right behind Lowell’s top three guys. Then Zach Connolly also had a great race. He is really coming on strong. He’s always had a really good endurance base, but now more than ever. He is stronger, he is sharpening up, he is faster, he has a better turnover and guys who used to beat him in the last 100 meters or 50 meters in races, he is now beating them.
“He caught two Lowell guys in the last 300 meters. The times are there for him but the best part is he is coming through with much stronger finishes."
Finishing behind the four of them were Andella, who was 10th at 16:57, Boudreault, who was 13th at 17:13, Killion, who was 18th at 17:28 and Josh Linnehan, who was 19th at 17:37.
Fortunato said that heading into that meet, he gave the team three goals, and said all of the kids met those head on.
"Anytime you face Lowell, you know it’s going to be a tough one. You know, unfortunately, because of how strong of a program that they are, you have slim chances going into the meet that you are going to win," said the coach. "So you just focus on what you can control.
“We were running at Shedd Park, so I just told the boys that we needed to focus on a few things. One was getting used to running in tough weather because last year’s MVC (Championship Meet) was in the rain and there will be a good chance that we will have a couple of races at the end of the season where the weather is not ideal so I wanted them to focus on that and not having the weather become an excuse.
"The second thing was to focus on their form, when they are running up the hill, and then the last thing I said was to focus on finishing the race hard. Honestly, the guys did every single part of those three things. They all did great going up the hill, they all looked great finishing the second half of the race."
Tewksbury will face Methuen and Haverhill on October 16th to close out the regular season before going back to Shedd Park for the MVC Conference Championship Meet on October 26th.