By Katherine Fox
With the end of the season looming, the boys cross country team had one last chance to extend its season at the Nike Regional Meet in Bowdoin Park, NY on Nov. 26.
The Northeast Region consists of teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Senior Quad-Captain Jack Leahy came back from a 17 second deficit to win the race with a time of 16:08.9, qualifying him for the Nike Cross National on Dec. 3 in Portland. Said Leahy: "It shocked me that I won the region. I was not expecting it."
According to Assistant Coach Chris Tafelski, the team’s strategy was to go out comfortably and pick up speed in the second half.
Leahy said, "Going into the final stretch, I said first place is only a step in front of me. So I kicked hard until the end because I wanted that win."
With just 400 meters to go, Leahy caught up to second place, and then with 100 meters left, took the lead from Ridge’s Tyler Gibbons.
Senior John Kirna, sophomore Matt Luppino and senior Kevin Ingram finished in that order to help the team place third, only seven points behind Pembroke, MA.
The top five runners and the top two teams from each region are given the opportunity to compete in the Nike meet.
Along with these qualifiers, four teams from across the country were chosen for a wild card bid for the opportunity to go to the Nike meet as well.
Westfield’s third place finish secured one of the wild cards, making them the first Northeast Region team to win, according to runnerspace.com.
One of the "Varsity Seven," junior Kevin Smith, said, "At the beginning of the season we wanted to qualify [for Nationals]. Now that we’ve actually done it, it’s just surreal."
The top seven runners and the coaches flew to Portland on Dec. 1 and the race is on Dec. 3 at Portland Meadows at 2:35 p.m. EST.
The meet will be streamed live through nikecrossnationals.com.