It's impossible for one runner to single-handedly win a high school cross country dual meet, but it would be difficult to find anyone who set the tone for her team more emphatically than Christina Dick did Wednesday afternoon.
Dick, the senior captain of the previously-winless Tewksbury High girls cross country team, smashed her previous personal best time on TMHS' 2.8-mile Livingston Street course by an amazing 46 seconds in leading her team to its first dual meet win of the season, 15-50 over Lawrence.
Dick completely ran away from all 40 other girls in this tri-meet race, crossing the finish line in 18:09, a full 44 seconds ahead of the second place finisher from Dracut. Dick's previous best time over the same course was 18:53 two weeks ago against Chelmsford.
"Holy cow, I don't know where that came from," said TMHS coach Peter Molloy after Dick's runaway win. "I knew she was good, but that was just a dominating performance. I've never seen her dominate a race like that before."
Dick had opened up a 100-yard lead in the first half mile of the race and Molloy was concerned that his top performer had gone out too fast.
"I thought for sure when I saw her get out so well that she was going to come back to the pack," Molloy said. "I told her 'You gotta push it because you're going to feel this in the second half of the race.' But I don't think she felt it at all."
Rachael McCabe took second for Tewksbury in 20:08, followed by Sam McGouldrick in 20:11, Sarah Parker in 21:12 and Allison Giles in 21: 40.
The win was a dramatic turnaround from Tewksbury's disappointing loss to Notre Dame Academy last week.
"I was happy with the way the other girls ran, too," Mollloy said. "They really put in a nice effort. It was good to see them bounce back like that."
Dracut bested Tewksbury, 20-41 in the other half of the tri-meet.
AMARAL LEADS BOYS TEAM TO SWEEP OF DRACUT, LAWRENCE
Junior captain Brian Amaral continued to be the man at the front of the pack, taking first place overall and leading the Tewksbury High boys team to a double victory in a tri-meet with Lawrence and Dracut.
Amaral knocked seven seconds off his personal best time on Tewksbury's home course, covering the 2.8 miles in 15:16. His only competition came from his own teammates, as Cory Thomas took second overall in 15:19 followed by Kip Horahan (15:27) and Sean Foley (15:28). Brendan Blair took fifth for TMHS in 16:16.
Tewksbury took the top four spots in the race.
"Amaral really set the pace," Molloy said. "There's a couple things he's gotta do better, but overall, chances are, when he graduates he will have been our No. 1 runner for three straght years. I can't remember too many other kids doing that."
According to Molloy, Amaral stands to go down in the record books as the best distance runner the school has seen since Dan Sarsfield graduated in 2003.
"Sarsfield is the standard for excellence that we measure kids against," Molloy said. "Other than Sarsfield, I can't think of another kid who's done what Brian has done for us."
Amaral has been the team's top runner in spite of a seties of nagging injuries that have hampered him for the past several weeks. But Tewksbury's top man isn't letting that get in the way of his team's goal of qualifying for the MIAA all-state meet next month.
"The injuries are minor, and they'll heal," Amaral said. "Our goal is to make it to all-states and I'm trying to stay focused on that. I think we're moving in the right direction. As a team, we've improved a lot from the beginning of the year."
Wednesday was evidence of that, as Tewksbury beat Dracut, 19-36 and Lawrence, 18-44. The Redmen improved their dual meet record to 3-3 so far this year.
Tewksbury's boys and girls teams will travel to Yonkers, New York to compete in the Manhattan Invitational this weekend before returning to dual meet action against Central Catholic next Wednesday.