MANCHESTER, November 9 – Canton High junior Julia Caputo finished second at the NCCC cross country championship meet and fourth at the recent Class SS championship race. She won the Small Division title at the Winding Trails Invitational in September and captured four dual meet races.
But to be competitive at the New England championships, Caputo realized that she would have to modify her style. It helped Caputo finish 32nd at Saturday’s New England championship meet at Wickham Park with a season-best time of 19:17 in a field of more than 260 runners.
Caputo is the first Canton girl to ever qualify to race at the New England cross country championships. Simsbury’s Amanda Derway earned All-New England honors by taking 24th place in 19:05 while Avon’s Rhiannon Richmond finished 74th with a time of 20:07.
“She runs her best when she gets out a pace that she maintains for the whole race,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said. “But that wouldn’t feasible for the New England meet. The field gets out so fast and the field is so deep, her normal start would have left her buried back in the pack and she would have to spend so much energy working her way back through traffic.”
O’Donnell has been impressed with how open Caputo has been to advice and coaching.
“She bought into the seemingly uncommon wisdom of running fast early to give her a chance to be competitive for the entire race,” O’Donnell said.
Caputo ran the first mile of the 3.1 mile race in six minutes compared to times of 6:12 and 6:15 over the past few weeks at the Wickham Park course. She finished 15th last week at the State Open in 19:39 to earn her berth to the New England championships.
“This uncomfortable fast start put her in (the range of) 28 to 35th place for the last two miles and gave her a chance to finish in the top 25 (and earn All-New England honors), which was really the best possible outcome,” O’Donnell said. “It was a great learning opportunity for Julia. She realized she can race and beat some athletes she has never beat before and that she is strong enough to go outside of her comfort zone and take a chance to go for an ambitious race plan.”
At New England championships. Caputo beat Somers’ Kylie Raymond, the three-time NCCC champion, and the three girls that beat her at the Class SS championship meet.
With her 23rd place finish at last week’s State Open, Richmond became just the third Avon runner to qualify as an individual to run at the New England championships. Claire Smith qualified in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009, finishing as high as 30th in 2009 with a time of 19:58.
The best finish by an Avon runner at the New England championships came in 2012 when the Falcons qualified as a team. Rachel Rosow was 27th with a time of 20:01.
2019 New England cross country championships
At Manchester (Wickham Park)
GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY
Top 5 team results – 1. Champlain Valley VT 142, 2. Hall-West Hartford 173, 3. Concord, NH 219, 4. East Greenwich RI 237, 5. Trumbull 245
Top 10 individual results – 1. Sofie Matson, Falmouth ME 17:52, 2. Mari Noble, Greenwich, 17:57; 3. Kate Wiser, Pomperaug 18:09, 4. Chloe Trudel, Souhegan, NH 18:43; 5. Ava Thurston, Harwood VT 18:44, 6. Ava Graham, Bethel 18:46; 7. Caroline Fisher, Bishop Guertin NH 18:47; 8. Caroline Towle, Bishop Guertin NH 18:47; 9. Kate Hedlund, Manchester CT 18:49, 10. Alicia Veronneau, Champlain Valley VT 18:51
Local runners: 24. Amanda Derway, Simsbury, 19:05, 32. Julia Caputo, Canton, 19:17; 74. Rhiannon Richmond, Avon, 20:07
BOYS CROSS COUNTRY
Top 5 team results – 1. La Salle Academy-RI 89, 2. Bishop Hendricken-RI 138; 3. Tolland 139, 4. Coe Brown NH 167, 5. Conard-West Hartford 221
Top 10 individual results – 1. Gavin Sherry, Conard 15:30 for 3.1 miles at Wickham Park; 2. Robbie Cozean, Xavier 15;34; 3. Jack McLoughlin, LaSalle Academy RI 15:35; 4. Lisando Berry-Gaviria, Mt. Ararat ME 15:42; 5. Evan Reynolds, Bishop Hendricken RI 15:43; 6. Will Shaughnessy, Brunswick ME 15:45; 7. Jake Velasquez, Keene NH 15:47; 8. Henry Farrington, Essex VT 15:53; 9. Joseph Curran, Nashua North NH 16:05; 10. Luke Henseler, Bishop Hendricken RI 16:07