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.