MANCHESTER — Ariel Vaillancourt insisted after finishing sixth at the Meet of Champions a week earlier, that her legs still felt fresh and that she had another good race left.
Yesterday at the New England Meet at Derryfield Park, the Pinkerton sophomore backed up that contention and then some, finishing 17th in an outstanding personal-best time of 18:27.9 on the hilly 3.1-mile layout.
Astonishingly, that time was almost a minute better than she ran just two weeks ago at the Division 1 meet, when she finished third in 19:23.
“Outstanding, just outstanding,” said Pinkerton coach Amy Bernard. “We told the kids they’d have to go out fast and Ariel was in the top 25 the whole way and just really finished strong.”
Said Vaillancourt: “I just wanted to do better than last year (61st) and break 19 minutes, so I’m pretty happy.”
Vaillancourt’s performance spurred the Astros to ninth place, which is their highest finish since 2003, when they came in seventh. It was their first trip to New England since 2009.
“Our goal was to make the top 10 so I couldn’t be happier,’ said Bernard. “Everyone ran either a PR or a near-PR.”
Sophomore Morgan Sansing was Pinkerton’s second runner, finishing 43rd in 19:02.8 while classmate Taylor Lacey came in 72nd at 19:34.5.
For Timberlane, Lauren Oligny completed her late-season surge, finishing 125th.
Team-wise, New Hampshire small school power Coe-Brown didn’t slack off in the least and came in first with an outstanding score of 78 points. Bishop Guertin was seventh.
Sophomore Hannah Debalsi of Staples, Conn., was the individual winner in an eye-popping 17:15.8, breaking the course record by 17 seconds.
Astros’ boys 16th
The Pinkerton boys, who came in 16th, didn’t run badly at yesterday’s New England meet according to head coach Mike Clark. It’s just that everyone else ran so well.
“This is the fastest field I’ve ever seen at New England,” said the 32-year coach. “To have five kids break the course record, to have times better than (Matt) Downin and (John) Mortimer is amazing,” said Clark. “And this is the first time in history there were 25 kids under 16 minutes (for 5K).”
Senior standout Phil Parent had a personal-best time of 16:10.0 to finish 31st to lead the Astros while Nick Sevilla was next with a 16:55.9, good for 127th, and sophomore Tom Hanlon was 141st.
Timberlane’s Liam Kimball was the second local finisher, coming in 110th with a 16:49.3.
La Salle Academy (R.I.) was the team champion with 99 points, just three points ahead of Ridgefield (Conn.). Trevor Hopper of Ridgefield was the individual champion in a stunning 15:08.5.
New England Girls Meet
at Derryfield Park (3.1 miles)
Top 10 team scores (30 teams): Coe-Brown 78, Barrington, R.I. 99, La Salle, R.I., Tolland 120, Glastonbury 191, Champlain Valley 260, Bishop Guertin 272, Staples 300, Pinkerton 321. St. Johnsbury 350
Top 3 finishers and top local finishers: 1. Hannah Debalsi (Staples, Conn.) 17:15.8, 2. Claire Howlett (Westhill, Conn.) 17:39.5, 3. Autumn Eastman (Champlain, Vt.) 17:48.3, 17. Ariel Vaillancourt (Pink) 18:27, 43. Morgan Sansing (Pink) 19:02.8, 72. Taylor Lacey (Pink) 19:34.5, 125. Lauren Oligny (Tim) 20:06.0, 148. Haley McMullen (Pink) 20:21.4, 193. Danika Ashness (Pink) 20:49.7, 194. Samantha Mangano (Pink) 20:50.5
New England Boys Meet
at Derryfield park (3,1 miles)
Top 10 teams (30 teams): La Salle, R.I. 99, Ridgefield 102, Bishop Hendricken 128, Darien 168, South Burlington 192, William Hall (Conn.) 215, Danbury 241, Lewiston 272, Harwood Union (Vt.) 296, Staples (Conn.) 326, 16. Pinkerton 410
Top 3 finishers and top local finishers 1. Trevor Hopper (Ridgefield, Conn.) 15:08.5, 2. Alex Ostberg (Darien) 15:11.0, 3. Josef Holt (Telstar, Maine) 15:12.9, 31. Phil Parent (Pink) 16:10.0, 110. Liam Kimball (Tim) 16:49.3, 127. Nick Sevilla (Pink) 16:55.9, 141. Tom Hanlon (Pink) 17:03.2, 148. Connor Kwiecien (Pink) 17:06.3, 152. Damon Kilgore (London) 17:08.0, 153. Nick Pietrocarlo (Pink) 17:08.1, 198. Owen Clark (Pink) 17:38.8, 199. Austin Smith (Pink) 17:39.4