EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 24, 2012

O'Donnell finishes 11th at Foot Locker; Shehadeh qualifies 5th

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — NEW YORK — Methuen senior Mike O’Donnell’s finishing kick didn’t fail him yesterday, but it wasn’t quite enough to save him.

Running in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park, with a goal of finishing in the top 10 to earn a berth in next month’s nationals in San Diego, O’Donnell approached the final 600 yards in the top 15. He passed several runners, but came one runner shy of advancing, finishing 11th in 15:54 on the challenging 5K course, just three seconds behind Austin Podel of Columbus, Pa. in 10th.

“I gave it my all, so I can’t be too disappointed,” said O’Donnell. “All the guys in front of me were there fair and square.

“I got out to a good start, but I might have gone out too fast and used up too much energy. The middle of the race was tough and it was hard to keep up.”

Nevertheless, O’Donnell’s finish was the best-ever for a Methuen runner and it capped a tremendous postseason in which he captured the Eastern Mass. Division 1 race and finished second in the Division 1 All-State meet.

The winner of the All-State Meet, Jonathan Green of St. John’s of Shrewsbury, finished second yesterday in 15:36, trailing just Edward Cheserek of St. Benedict’s Prep of Newark, N.J., who was clocked in 15:21 and was the defending champion. He is also the defending national Foot Locker champ.

In the girls race, Peabody’s Catarina Rocha bested the field, winning in 17:50, 18 seconds better than runner-up Megan Curham of Warren, N.J. Rocha, who qualified for nationals for the third straight year, was in second place for much of the race, but she made a move at the 2-mile mark and then pulled away.

As a junior, Rocha was third at the regional and came in seventh at nationals. She also set a Division 1 record in the mile last spring, running a 4:50.58, and will contend for the top spot in San Diego.

Coming in fifth place was Phillips Academy sophomore Anoush Shehadeh of Larchmont, N.Y., with a fine time of 18:15.0. Shehadeh had been undefeated until yesterday.

The second finisher from Massachusetts, Acton’s Christime Davis, came in 19th in 19:06.3, while sophomore Shannon Murdock of Exeter was the top finisher from New Hampshire, in 32nd.