The 2019 MVRHS cross country team was not done making history. Last week the boys team won the sectional championship, and today they prevailed once again, this time emerging with a bigger, and better, prize: the Massachusetts Division II State Championship.

Facing competition in the form of familiar and new foes from towns all over Massachusetts, the Vineyard runners torched their way through a hilly and brisk 3.1 mile course at the Gardner Municipal Golf Course. Led by senior captain Peter Burke, who finished fourth with a time of 16:50, the Vineyard boys took the state championship with five Vineyarders placing in the top 50 among qualified teams.

Once again it was the will of the team that drove the boys to victory. In an undefeated regular season that was headlined by Burke’s first-place finishes, it was the team’s consistency as a whole that propelled the squad to the MVRHS history books.

Celebrating at the course. — Todd Christy

With Zach Utz finishing 26th posting a time of 17:37, Vito Aiello placing 33rd at 17:46, Isaac Richards at 35th in 17:49 and Borja Tolay rounding out the top five placing 50th in 18:02 among qualified teams, the Vineyard topped second-place Parker Charter Essential by 13 points and third-place Hopedale High School by 27.

Adding to the Vineyarders’ championship effort, Nate Porterfield finished 70th with a time of 18:25 and Kieran Karabees rounded out the Vineyard’s history-making roster placing 88th with a time of 18:52.

The girls cross country team finished in tenth place overall following strong performances from runners who overcame injuries that hobbled the team all season.

Adrienne Christy finished the course in 20:42, good for 12th place, and her sister Eloise finished at 21:15 to earn her 25th place among a field of 136 qualified runners.

Yayla DeChaira finished 51st with a time of 22:03, team captain Catherine Cherry finished 58th at 22:16, Amber Cuthbert placed 105th at 23:32, Kaitlyn Freeman came in 120th at 24:26 and Margaret Sykes placed 128th finishing at 26 minutes even.

The course Saturday featured long stretches of fairway leading to sharp cuts around lines of trees that sent runners charging through the woods and along the western shore of Crystal Lake.

“It’s definitely hilly,” Coach Joe Schroeder said after the meet. “There are some major climbs between mile one and mile two, there’s steady inclines, full declines,”

Compared to the past two meets in Wrentham, where runners have been contained to a track-style course in a big open field, the challenge today was vastly different. The Vineyard’s efforts never wavered.

“It’s a deceivingly difficult finish because your legs are already toast, and you’re trying to finish hard up a hill and you are calling on anything that can get you to that finish line,” Coach Schroeder said. “Our guys planned it great because they came out very conservatively on the first mile, and then the race came back to them and it was great to see.”

“They work incredibly hard, sometimes in the shadows of other sports and they deserve recognition just as much as any other athlete at that high school,” Coach Schroeder continued. “We wanted to bring it home, for sure.”