Boys varsity senior Zach Utz took first place at the 14th annual Vineyard Invitational cross country meet, helping to propel the boys cross country team to a first place finish on Saturday. Utz just missed breaking the course’s record.

“That was a 45-second personal record for me. It was a really good way to start the season,” Utz said while catching his breath after the race. “Huge confidence booster, and I am so excited to see what happens in the season.

The annual event took place at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest and included 16 teams from around the commonwealth. The event featured a freshmen coed race of 1.85 miles and 5K races for the boys and girls junior varsity and varsity teams.

Zach Utz starts the season strong - winning the invitational. — Mark Alan Lovewell

What started as a cloudy, windy day soon turned to hot and sunny, with all the teams fired up to compete again after last year’s intramural season.

Head coach Joe Schroeder was pleased with the teams’ performance.

“Our kids really rose up to the occasion,” he said. “We’ve had a full month of training, so that helps, but it could be where you’re just getting stale, but these kids were definitely not stale.”

Utz had to kick it in gear for the last downhill stretch to pass senior Holden Vaughan of Barrington High School.

Adrienne Christy finished fourth overall. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“After two and half miles I figured I could start to kick and pass him,” Utz said. “I had that home field advantage, so basically I knew my course.”

For the boys varsity, the Vineyard ranked first overall with a score of 38. Utz finished in 1st place with a time of 16:06; senior Borja Tolay finished 4th with 16:54; senior Jonathan Norton finished 5th with 17:01; and junior Daniel da Silva finished 9th with 17:16. Senior Sam Fetters finished 19th with 17:47; junior Daniel Serpa finished in 22nd with 17:59; and senior Duncan Brown finished 36th with 18:51.

“That’s two invitationals in a row because, in 2019, it was Peter Burke and Zach is carrying on the tradition, so I am psyched for him,” Coach Schroeder said with a smile. “[Utz] ran that race exactly how it’s supposed to be run.”

Crowded field is all smiles as the season begins. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The girls varsity had one of their runners in the top 5, with junior Adrienne Christy placing 4th with a time of 19:53. Sophomore Alexa Schroeder came in at 21:45.

“Bring it in strong,” Coach Schroeder repeated through his megaphone at the finish line, cheering his team and the other runners as they ran across the last stretch.

The boy’s junior varsity ranked 4th overall with 98 points. Junior Linus Munn came in third with 19:35; senior Calvin Brooks finished 6th with 19:50; senior Henry D’Andrea finished 16th with 20:28; junior Jack Crawford finished 31st with 21:52; and sophomore Caleb Guerrero finished 76th with 27:33. The girls junior varsity had senior Sara Creato finish 27th with a time of 25:07.

“[The Vineyard] threw down some really awesome times today,” Coach Schroeder said. “So they have set the bar pretty high for themselves, but we’ll treat the next couple of races the way they’re supposed to be treated.”

Next up for the team is a home race on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. against Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School.

More pictures.