NORTHFIELD | Gloucester boys cross country captains Peter Asaro and Jake Hennessey knew the team accomplished its goal of qualifying for the All-State Cross Country Championships.

But they wanted to finish the season in style. They called a runners-only meeting Friday night to encourage the team to give it everything it had on Saturday. While winning the title was a longshot, Asaro and Hennessey knew the team had the ability to finish as one of the top five teams in the state.

Led by Asaro's third-place finish, the Fishermen completed it's season with a fifth-place finish in the Division 1 event held at the Northfield Recreation Center. Gloucester finished with 166 points. Brockton won the event with 100 points. Saint John's Shrewsbury and Brookline tied for second (128 points), while Ludlow placed fourth (152 points).

Asaro duplicated his third place at last week's Eastern Mass. championships with a 16:17 finish. Mansfield's Ryan Collins, who won last week's Eastern Mass. event, won the 152-runner event in 15:49. Brockton's Kevin Gill placed second in 15:59. Matt Dewey, who placed second at Eastern Mass. one week ago, was sixth in 16:26.

Three Gloucester runners aided the Fishermen's fifth-place finish with top-75 finishes. Junior Liam Anastasia-Murphy rebounded from his 108th place at Eastern Mass., to place 27th overall (16:56). Junior John Ryan finished 67th in 17:23, while junior Austin Sousa finished in 72nd in 17:25. Senior John Franics also placed 116th place finish (17:59). The top five spots were factored into the scoring.

Hennessey said the team's effort cemented its solid season. The Fishermen captured their 14th Northeastern Conference title in the last 15 years as well as their 15th league meet title in a row. They also placed fifth at the Manhattan Invitational and advanced to the all-state with a third place finish at Eastern Mass.

"All we talked about this year was qualifying for the all-state," Hennessey said. "We built our training around it. We also had other goals that we wanted to accomplish. To be able to achieve everything we set our minds on is great. We can all feel good about the season we had."

Asaro's third-place finish was the difference. The senior used a hard push in the final 100 yards of the race to clip Brockton's Carlos Montrond for third. Asaro received an individual medal for his finish.

"I felt great the entire race," Asaro said. "I was trying to pace with the leaders and Matt Dewey. I felt great toward the last part of the race and gave it everything I had down the stretch. It's great to finish in third, but I'm more excited about what we were able to do as a team. We wanted to finish the season strong and establish ourselves as one of the better teams in program history. We didn't win Eastern Mass. or the all-state like some of those teams did, but we carved out our own place in this program."

Gloucester coach Dave Dunsky said Asaro ran a tremendous race.

"In Massachusetts and among the college coaches, his stock is trading much higher this morning," Dunsky said. "What I like best about him is his Barry Brown-like confidence. It was one of the most outstanding individual non-winning efforts in program annals."

Dunsky was also pleased with his team's effort, citing each of his runners individually. He was also pleased that his team beat Mansfield and Whitman Hanson, who finished ahead of them at Eastern Mass. He also cited his team beating Division 1 powerhouse programs Xaverian, Methuen and Amherst.

"Finally I got to see what this group could do with a B-plus, A-minus grade from me," Dunsky said. "It tells me that we were not a legitimate All-State contender. Our best chance for a title came at Eastern Mass., in an opportunity squandered. But we had a good season overall and we beat some good teams. We ran well and can say we are the fifth best team in the state. I'm pleased with the effort."

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