Melrose takes 2nd place in Sectionals; advance to State finals
Published in the November 20, 2015 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High School boys’ cross country team has the makings of being a local dynasty after securing their third straight State final appearance, thanks to a masterful performance at the Div. 4 Eastern Mass. Divisional Championship at Wrentham Development Center on Saturday, Nov. 14. Melrose, undefeated this year, simply had a lights-out day, blowing past competition and only placing behind Marblehead, ranked #1 in the state. It was good enough for a silver medal, thanks to top finishes by Kevin Wheelock, Adam Cook and Sean Conlan who all cracked the top 10. Overall Melrose finished with 94 points. Thanks to their fine performance Melrose will compete this weekend at the MIAA All State Meet in Westfield.
Melrose junior Kevin Wheelock finished second out of a contingent of nearly 200 runners, narrowly edged by Andrew Ernst of Marblehead and right behind him was his own teammate Adam Cook, who was third. Worth noting – Marblehead’s respected team consists mostly of senior runners, meaning next year a very youthful Melrose team has a real shot at taking home a Div. 4 State title.
Only four teams advance to All States from the 30 who competed on Saturday. In 2013, Melrose was able to capture the wild card position with a fifth place finish. In 2014, the team finished third. On Saturday the team wouldn’t dream of leaving anything up to chance, commanding their way past division opponents like Pembroke, Wakefield, Gloucester and Dighton-Rehoboth.
For Melrose, Kevin Wheelock led the way on the cold, windy 5K course finishing at 16:15, good for second place among the field of 166 high level runners. Adam Cook was right behind, finishing third in 16:29, a time that would have won the Division 5 race. In seventh was Sean Conlan, who has once again saved his greatest race for the state championship. He also completed the difficult job of breaking 17 minutes with his 16:49 posting. All three of Melrose top three finishers are juniors. Finishing fourth was Middlesex League All-Star, senior Robbie Hanlon who was 20th in 17:18. Closing out the scoring for Melrose was junior Griffin Barriss who came in 62nd in 18:18. Right behind was sophomore Steven Stromski, 68th is 18:23, and sophomore Kyle Thompson who finished in 18:58.
Wakefield, Melrose’s tough league opponent, scored 120 for third and Pembroke got the last spot to All States with a score of 153.
“It was a great team effort. Everyone faced the difficult elements and performed with smart, tough running,” says Melrose head coach Kevin Allison. “These athletes have worked extremely hard for a long time and should be proud of this accomplishment.”
Melrose is now one of 19 teams advancing to the State Final at Westfield College on Saturday. When they previously qualified, Melrose finished 18th in 2013 and 15th in 2014.
“We hope to crack the top 10 this year,” says their coach. “It will take another great effort but the boys have met every challenge and reached every goal this year, so I think they will give it a terrific effort.”
Racing on Saturday will be junior Griffin Barriss, junior Sean Conlan, junior Adam Cook, sophomore William Gray, senior Robbie Hanlon, sophomore Will Hanlon, freshman Jack Summersby, sophomore Steve Stromski, sophomore Kyle Thompson and junior Kevin Wheelock.