THE WARRIOR boys’ cross country team put together a complete team-effort to beat Melrose in a huge, early-season showdown on Tuesday at Wakefield High. Pictured are seniors Liam Taggart, Mike Arria and Ollie Polster. (Courtesy Photo)

WAKEFIELD — Melrose came into the 2023 season looking to be the biggest threat to the Wakefield boys’ cross country team’s run for the Middlesex League Freedom Division title hunt. 

The Warriors put that idea to rest on Tuesday when they defeated the visitors convincingly with a score of 22-39 on their home course under perfect conditions.

Although the first place finish went to Melrose runner Caleb Barnes in a swift 16:03, the Warriors had so many impressive runs that ended up being too much for Melrose.  

Senior Liam Taggart led the way, challenging Barnes from the very start. Taggart’s transition to cross country from the track has been strong so far in his first season as he debuted at home running 16:33 for the 3-mile course. 

Senior captain Mike Arria was a step behind in 16:34, a personal best. Junior Brandon Nett had a big personal best time of 16:36 proving his offseason training made a difference. 

Senior captain Ollie Polster also had a personal best of 16:51 placing 6th. Senior captain William Mezikofsky looked comfortable the whole way, finishing 7th in 17:03. 

Junior Ethan Mezikofsky took 45 seconds off his personal best from last year running 17:05 to place 8th. Junior Andrew Nett also had a personal best of 17:06 to place 9th to complete the scoring.  

Robert Brown ran a strong race with a personal best of 17:40 to place 12th. Junior Tyler Galante took 90 seconds off his previous best to finish in 17:56 in 14th. Sophomore David Rocca also took a good chunk of time off his previous best, running 18:50 to place 17th in his first varsity race.  

In the junior varsity race, the Warriors easily swept the meet to get a perfect score of 15-50 for the 2nd week in a row. Wakefield took the first 10 spots before a Melrose runner crossed the line.   

Brendan Campea took 1st in a photo finish against Aidan Martin both running 18:50. Jacob Ciriello was there in 18:51 to take 3rd. Freshman Alec Buonopane-Cohen ran well placing 4th in 19:03. Sophomore Max Viselli placed 5th in 19:21. Senior Captain Joe Patt placed 6th in 19:26 in 6th place. Sophomore Ryan Paige was 7th in 19:28 to close out the scoring. Junior Brody Wyatt was 8th in 19:39. Junior Ben Olivieri was 9th in 19:45. Freshman Liam Kelley was 10th in 19:58.  

The Warriors face Burlington on the road next Tuesday at 4 p.m.