First-Ever State Championship A Team Effort For Redmen Cross Country
Thrilling Division 3 meet came down to a tiebreaker and proved that winning a cross country championship takes contributions from everyone on your roster.
It's easy to see cross country as an individual sport. Athletes run at their own pace, trying for personal best times. And the vast majority of runners spend their race staring at the back of another runner's jersey.
But when it comes to winning championships, cross country is every bit as much a team sport as baseball, soccer or field hockey.
Tewksbury High proved that earlier this month when they hoisted the Division 3 State Championship trophy following a thrilling meet in Wrentham.
It was the Redmen's first-ever cross country state title.
Corey Thomas led the way for Tewksbury, placing 6th overall in the 162-runner field in 16:20 over the 5K course. Fellow senior Brian Amaral placed 10th in 16:28. But it would take strong performances by several other runners to lock up the title.
Based on the cross country scoring system (points allotted for the placings of the top five runners on each team), Tewksbury finished tied with Wellesley with 114 points each. The tiebreaker was the 6th runner for each team. Tewksbury's Mike Famiglietti placed 70th overall in 17:55, besting Wellesley's Jake Chicoski (18:04). Tewksbury's Anthony Barinelli also bested the Wellesley runner, placing 76th in 18:00.
Co-head coach Peter Fortunato said Famiglietti, a sophomore, had developed into the team's third best runner but that he had been ill on the day of the state meet.
"After the race he told me he had been sick and I asked him why he hadn't said anything before," said Fortunato. "He told me, 'no excuses coach.'"
"Going into the states we felt pretty good," said co-head coach Peter Molloy. "We told the boys that winning was possible and we knew that Wellesley was the top competition."
Molloy said that on the bus ride to the meet, Fortunato shared a video with the team he had found online called "I Am A Champion." It seemed to do the trick.
"We got to the meet two hours before the race and as the kids were getting off the bus they were so pumped up they were ready to start the race right then," said Molloy.
Junior Joseph Darrigo placed 19th overall in 16:50 and junior Anthony Darrigo placed 24th in 16:58.
The fifth runner for Tewksbury was senior tri-captain Nick Souza, who placed 55th overall in 17:39. Molloy and Fortunato both called Souza "a true leader" and the "unsung hero of the team."
"Nick started the year as our third best runner," said Fortunato. "We told him, 'look, you can run with Brian and Corey but that's not going to help improve (the younger runners).'
Souza chose to train with the younger runners, helping them improve week to week. As a result, the Darrigo brothers and Famiglietti actually surpassed their mentor on the team depth chart. While Souza dropped from third to sixth, the Redmen improved tremendously overall and the table was set for the D-3 State Championship.
"(Souza) really took one for the team," said Fortunato.
"(Souza) was the glue. He kept the guys behind him hungry," said Molloy.
Tewksbury High went on to compete in the All-State Cross Country Championships and placed 14th as a team. Amaral ran a brilliant race and placed 17th overall in 16:35.19. Thomas ran another strong race, placing 42nd in 17:03.05 over the 5K course in Northfield.