MANCHESTER — The Long Red Line is back on the center of the track.
The Pinkerton boys cross country team was never far off, being a perennial Division 1 power over the last three decades, but it always seemed to fall just short — until yesterday.
In a year when the Astros didn’t seem quite as strong as in other years, they delivered their first Division 1 crown since 1996 in resounding fashion with 97 points, comfortably ahead of runner-up Nashua South (141), which was two points ahead of surprising Timberlane.
This was the 17th time in Mike Clark’s 32 years that Pinkerton has finished either first or second at the state meet, but only the seventh crown, having been runner-up five of the last seven years.
“We brought it back!” said an excited Clark. “We just had a terrific team effort. From our No. 1 to No. 7 runners we only had 38 seconds separating them which is the best we’ve had all year.”
Senior Phil Parent, despite a bad muscle cramp in his back, led the way in ninth in 16:39, gutting it out at the finish by passing four runners in the final 300 meters. He was followed in 12th by sophomore Tom Hanlon (16:44) with classmate Nick Sevilla in 22nd (16:56), cracking 17 minutes for the first time on Derryfield Park’s challenging 5K course.
Connor Kwiecien continued the charge by placing 24th in 17:02, passing seven runners in the final 300 meters. No. 7 man Owen Clark came in 35th, beating the No. 4 man from every other team.
“We had a specific game plan, to have Phil (Parent) in the top three and then have our pack move up, but we had to change during the race when Phil got a muscle cramp in his back and was really hurting,” said Clark. “Tom (Hanlon) and then the other guys saw the urgency of picking it up and really came through.”