WMass Cross Country: Mohawk girls set sights on state berth

  • Frontier and Mohawk Trail girls cross country runners kick off at the start of their meet earlier this season in South Deerfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Abigail Howard runs to a first place finish during a girls cross country meet earlier this season in South Deerfield. Howard is part of a strong pack of Red Hawks vying for the Western Mass. Division 2 title on Saturday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Mohawk Trail’s Savannah Simmons (720) and Sierra Upton (723) head toward the finish line during the PVIAC Cross Country Championships last month in Westfield. The duo will look to help the Warriors contend at Saturday’s WMass Div. 2 championship. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 10:04:09 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 10:03:58 PM

Another year, another season that the Mohawk Trail girls cross country team will compete for a Western Mass. championship.

The Warriors took third at the WMass Division 2 race a year ago, and will once again look to compete for the title on Saturday at Northfield Mountain. 

The girls race kicks off at 11 a.m. with the boys to follow at 12:20 p.m.

“Our goal is to qualify for states,” Mohawk Trail coach Joe Chadwick said. “Three teams go and we hope we’re one of those teams.”

Grace Poplowski has been a star for Mohawk throughout her senior season, finishing with the top Franklin County time at the PVIAC Cross Country Championship on Oct. 26.

The Warriors finished first for Div. 2 schools and fourth overall at the meet, with Erika Looman and Erica Szewczyk finishing right behind Poplowski. Savannah Simmons and Sierra Upton rounded out the top five runners for Mohawk.

Berkshire County schools enter the mix this weekend, and several of them, including defending champion Mount Greylock, should battle atop the standings with the Warriors.

“They’re ready to go,” Chadwick said of his team. “We know Mount Greylock and Lenox are the favorites but we’ll be prepared.”

After graduating Meghan Davis, who placed second in Western Mass. a year ago, Chadwick knows he needs a group effort if his team wants to replicate their placing in 2019.

Chadwick said he’s been extremely proud of Simmons and Upton asserting themselves as the team’s No. 4 and 5 runners, as well as Caitlin Upton and Carli Cusimano, who have both had numerous top-five team finishes this season. 

“They beat each other,” Chadwick said. “We knew they all had the potential but until you develop it, it’s just potential. They’ve done that, stepped up and worked very hard.” 

Nine Frontier girls are looking to make their mark on Saturday, as the young Red Hawks are looking to surprise the field.

Freshman Abigail Howard has been a star for Frontier all season long and will lead the pack of Red Hawks on Saturday. 

Eighth-grader Leah Gump, seventh grader Sasha Melo, sophomore Sadie Ross and freshman Angelina Egland have all been impressive runners for Frontier all season long. 

Eva Heath, Johanna Guiod, Kandice Lu, Shane Subeldia, Natalie Grunwald and Kaci Breiwick will represent a Greenfield team that took 12th at the meet a season ago. 

Samantha Baldwin is the lone Pioneer runner who will be in attendance.

On the boys side, junior Gehrig Brynda looks to lead a Frontier team that is seeking a comparable finish to last season, when it finished third.

Brynda finished 31st at the PVIAC race, the second-fastest time among Franklin Country runners. Outside of Brynda, the Red Hawks have a solid core of qualified runners, with Brett Robinson, Kai Sharp and Patrick Boyden all finishing in the top 100 at PVIAC’s. Aden Gray finished 102nd. 

The Green Wave are also sending a solid squad on Saturday, led by Alex Tirrell, Gianni Passiglia, Erick Badillo, Emanuel Rosca and Matt Conway. 

Tirrell (91) and Passiglia (94) were the lone Greenfield runners in the top 100 at PVIAC’s. The Green Wave took ninth at Western Mass in 2018. 

The top Franklin County runner at PVIACs, Dennis Simmons of Mohawk, will be looking to place near the top of the leaderboards on Saturday. 

The sophomore placed fifth overall a year ago, and has improved as a runner this season. Simmons’ time of 17:01 at PVIAC’s was fifth amongst Div. 2 runners. 

“We’re hoping top 10,” Chadwick said of Simmons. “He’s hoping better. He lost to some guys earlier in the season that he shouldn’t have. He ran really well at PVIAC. On any given day, he can run with anybody. I’d never count him out.” 

Mahar will send eight qualified boys to the meet, led by senior Thor Mead, who placed 26th at Western Mass. a year ago and has improved his time this season.

Outside of Mead, freshman Liam DiDonato was the lone other Senator runner to place in the top 150 at PVIAC’s, taking 141st. 

Noah de Ruiter was the top Pioneer runner at PVIACs, taking 120th, and will be joined Saturday by teammates Brian Bodenstein and Jonathan Bodenstein. 

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