Going the distance: Boy’s Cross Country wins Division 1C State Championship

Five points was the difference between a second place finish for Marblehead and a state title at the Division 1C State Championships last year. Oliver Ames claimed the title, and looked down on the Magicians.

But a year later, Head Coach Brian Heenan’s squad hasn’t forgotten.

Marblehead flipped the script on the defending champions and got its revenge, winning the 2022 Division 1C State Meet last Friday at the Wrentham Development Center. The margin was even closer this year, with the Magicians winning by just a two point margin. The win marked Marblehead’s first Division title since 2015. 

That win would not have come to fruition without the heroics of David DiCostanzo and Ryan Blestowe. In the last half-mile, both runners kicked it into high gear and overtook a number of runners to move up in the individual standings. DiCostanzo finished 20th overall with a time of 17:05, and Blestowe came in 27th and seven seconds behind his teammate at 17:12.

Blestowe stated that it simply was all about just crossing the finish line.

“I was just thinking I had to get to the end,” he said. “Just try my best, leave it all out there.” 

Those late race moves were the difference between first and second place for Marblehead. Although it was impossible for DiCostanzo and Blestowe to know that their finish would impact the final team standings, they, as well as Heenan do know that every place and every second counts.

Marblehead’s top three finishers had outstanding performances and went toe-to-toe with the Divisions top runners. All three came in running sub-17 minute times in the 5K race. Ryan Thompson and Isaac Gross finished back to back in eighth and ninth place respectively, with Thompson running a team best 16:24, and Gross coming in at 16:38. Harrison Kee made sure to keep his teammates within sight as he ran his way to a 12th place finish and a time of 16:38. 

After falling to Oliver Ames last year, and finishing just behind Peabody in this year’s NEC conference meet, it was no question that the Magicians were coming into this race with a chip on their shoulder, which Gross commented on.

“It was definitely something where it was like ‘finally we got them’ because throughout the season we’ve been second a few times,” he said. “Even with injuries we beat them and it’s pretty nice because they beat us last year.”

Marblehead’s sixth and seventh runners crossed the finish line with solid performances as well. Errol Apostolopoulos broke the 18 minute threshold and finished in 50th place as Gabe Bayramian came in with a time of 18:14, which was good for a 73rd place finish. 

Heenan pointed to the depth of his team as one of the main contributors to winning the title. Marblehead had four runners named to the NEC All Conference team. Despite one of those runners, Will Cerrutti not being able to run in last week’s race due to a (injury), the team still pulled out the victory, an impressive one to say the least. 

Heenan commented on his team’s ability to rally even with one of its top runners out, and credits his other runners for stepping up. 

“This crew has really bought into that team mentality. I had four different guys win races this year, and they switched it up almost every race and it pays off,” said Heenan. 

The team is now preparing for the All-State Championships, taking place on Saturday at Fort Devens. Marblehead will be going up against the best teams in the entire state, but Thompson knows his team is ready for the challenge and wants to make some noise.

“Our school only has 880 people in it, and a lot of those schools have two thousand, three thousand people, so we’re by far one of the smallest schools there so just getting our name out there and showing people we mean business is definitely important.”

The team finished 18th in the All-State meet last season, and Heenan notes that the team went into shock a bit going up against the best runners in the state. This year however, the Magicians have returned a number of runners, and Thompson saidthis year’s squad is poised to be a top ten team. 

“They have the ability to hopefully crack the top ten. A top ten finish would be a really good showing against some great great teams. These are big teams, big programs, you try to hang with them, it’s tough, but this is the crew to do it.”