By Jess Thomas
After placing second in the Division 1 Central Mass. District Championships, the Nashoba boys cross country team finished 11th in the MIAA State Championship on Saturday, Nov. 15.
Held in Boston at Franklin Park, coach Steve Beckwith and his runners returned to the state meet for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Beckwith said, “Each of the seven runners who stepped up to the starting line had a phenomenal race and I’m very proud of their performance at the MIAA State Championship, as well as the performance of the entire team throughout the season.”
It is the lowest finish of a Nashoba XC team coached by Beckwith, but he said that it is also the fastest team he has coached with the Chieftains.
“This year’s meet had a number of great teams competing,” Beckwith said. “Our team went out hard at the start, but still got buried in the back of the pack and they spent a lot of effort fighting through a crowded course to get into position.”
Beckwith noted that nearly all of his runners still collected personal bests in the race.
Senior Adam Heislein finished the meet in 20th place, the top runner for Nashoba, with a time of 16:18. The next closest Chieftain was sophomore Kyle Cloutier, who finished ahead of Heislein in the district meet. Cloutier completed the state race in the 52nd slot with a 16:47 time.
Beckwith said that his expectations for the season were to make sure his seven varsity runners qualified for the state meet and that they peaked physically and mentally. Once that happened, he said that it was up to the runners to execute, which they did.
Nashoba’s third best runner of the day was sophomore Ryan Gillooly, finishing in 79th place with a time of 17:00.
Beckwith knows that he will lose five of his top seven runners due to graduation, but is really looking forward to the performance of Cloutier and Gillooly next year, in addition to younger runners.
“I try not to coach for the present season, but rather look two or three seasons out to ensure the program has runners moving up to take the place of departing seniors,” Beckwith said. “However, sophomores Kyle Cloutier and Ryan Gillooly are going be a tremendous one-two punch of the team.”
Beckwith could certainly surprise some people with his answer to what the most fulfilling aspect of the season was for him as coach. He said it was not qualifying for states or winning the league championship.
“My biggest satisfaction is watching the entire 28-man squad put in the hard work during the season and resulting improvement of their race times,” Beckwith said. “I’m just as thrilled to see the 28th runner on the team set a personal record as I am when Adam (Heislein) sets a personal best.”
Seniors Jacob Hangen, John Atkinson, Zach Honig and Liam Gross also took part in and completed the race.
In terms of goals for next season, Beckwith sees no reason to change what has worked so well in his tenure.
“Put in the work, improve, and do the best you can.”