EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 17, 2009

BC-bound Poretta aims for All-State peak

On Cross Country

Understandably, Pentucket senior Alanna Poretta is feeling good about herself as she looks forward to Saturday's Division 2 All-State meet at Northfield Mountain in Northfield.

Poretta believes she's ready to end her Pentucket high school cross country career on a high note, and she's feeling awfully content about her recent decision to attend Boston College next year.

An excellent student, who is ranked 27th in a class of 176 students, Poretta accepted a full tuition scholarship at BC after also visiting and considering Dartmouth and UPenn. She also weighed attending Georgetown but she cancelled a visit there after deciding to become an Eagle.

"All-around, Boston College was the best fit for me, academically and athletically," said Poretta. "I want to get into business, and they have a great school for that, and I like the people I'll be running with."

A five-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star, Poretta ran a 4:57.83 in the mile last spring, which is the fifth fastest in region history. She'll be running both track and cross country at Boston College.

"I like both sports a lot," said Poretta. "I like the distance training I do for cross country, but I've had more success in track. But I'm hoping to show in the next two weeks that I'm good in cross country, too."

Of course, Poretta has already flashed her potential in cross country. Last year, she was third in the Division 3 Eastern Mass. meet with a 19:05 clocking on Franklin Park's 3.1-mile course and, back in September, she was clocked in 18:39.6 while taking top honors at the McIntyre Invitational.

On the other hand, Poretta has not fared well in All-State meets. Last year, she slipped to 15th at the Division 2 All-State, a finish she was not pleased with and is determined to improve upon.

"My training wasn't quite right last year and I didn't peak at the right time," said Poretta.

But, after finishing sixth in the rain and mud last week in the Division 3 meet, she is confident that this All-State will be different.

"The most important thing (at the class meet) was to qualify, not get hurt and stay warm so I don't get sick, and I did all that," said Poretta. "I played it a little safe.

"But I'm pretty excited (about All-State). I like the hills (at Northfield) and I want to improve upon the last couple of years. My legs feel pretty strong for this time of the year."

Poretta is also aiming for a strong performance Nov. 28 at the Foot Locker Northeast regional at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City, but her immediate focus is the All-State meet.

Another surprise at Northfield?

Perhaps it may be because of the steep hills, but favorites often tumble when the All-State meet is held at Northfield. Five years ago, St. John's Prep came from nowhere to win the Division 1 All-State and two years ago Brockton (which had been fifth in the class meet the week before) stunned the field.

On paper, Lowell, Mansfield and Methuen appear to be the Division 1 boys teams to beat, but it remains to be seen. Methuen was one of the favorites when St. John's won the title, and has not traditionally run well at Northfield.

But the Rangers should be motivated to run better than last week, when Lowell whipped them at Franklin Park, and could surprise.

In the girls field, Lincoln-Sudbury is a solid favorite. Banged-up Haverhill, which was third last year, will shoot to crack the top five.

Big day for Phillips girls

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Phillips Academy's girls under interim coach Rebecca Hessions, but it certainly didn't turn out that way.

Phillips captured the Division 1 New England prep title, on both the varsity and JV level, for the fifth straight year over the weekend, clipping runner-up St. Paul's by 10 points. St. Paul's beat Phillips in a dual meet during the season.

The Big Blue took four of the top six places, led by individual winner Katherine Bulger, a junior, with Kate Ellinger in third, Caitlin Kingston in fifth and Caroline Gezon in sixth. Sophomore Kelsey Jamieson of Andover finished 15th.

Hessions will return the team to head coach Nancy Lang next year, but hopes to stay involved with the squad. Lang is on sabbatical in Idaho.

The Phillips' boys, in their last race under soon-to-retire head coach Jon Stableford, finished second by four points to Loomis-Chaffee. Matt Appleby led the Big Blue, placing second overall, and sophomore James Hamilton of Andover came in 15th.

Brooks boys finish second

The Brooks boys captured second out of 17 teans at the Division 4 New England prep meet at the Canterbury School in New Milford, Conn. Josh Kirkman and Ian Anderson were named to the All-New England team, finishing in 7th and 12th places respectively.

This is the second year in a row that Brooks team took second. The girls, led by freshman Lyndsay Domoracki, came in seventh.