A year ago, Pinkerton senior Phil Parent was — to put it mildly — not a happy camper.
After failing to make the cross country team as a freshman and sophomore, he finally made the cut as a junior. In fact, he had the seventh fastest time at tryouts.
Ordinarily, that would be good enough to run with the varsity but, because of a driver’s education commitment, he twice was forced to come to preseason practice late.
That led to a two-meet suspension. Those meets were also a qualifier to run in the Manchester Invitational, so Parent missed that as well. He didn’t run with the varsity until the Mack Plaque race against Londonderry.
“I was really kind of ticked off about it, to tell the truth,” said Parent, who started running in the fifth grade but was only average in middle school. “I was pretty upset.
“I left driver’s ed early and just missed as little of practice as I could, maybe 20 to 30 minutes. I didn’t think that should have kept me out.”
By the time he ran in the Mack Plaque race, Parent was chomping on the bit to race.
“It (two-meet suspension) got me going,” he said. “I really wanted to show what I could do.”
“He was our fifth guy and ran a heck of a race,” said veteran coach Mike Clark. “When I saw what he did, my jaw dropped. Based on him not even making the team the two years before, I wasn’t expecting it.”
Clark was also not expecting Parent to make the steady progress he’s made ever since. He quickly became one of the Astros’ top runners and was their No. 3 runner at the Division 1 meet, running a 16:59 at Derryfield Park.
That carried over to track, where Parent ran the 3,200 meters in 9:47.17 and finished third in Division 1. Impressive for sure, but nothing prepared Clark for Parent’s jump this year.