LUNENBURG – The Ayer Shirley Regional girls’ cross country team had high hopes of securing a silver medal at Saturday’s Mid Wach D league championship, however the Panthers ended up a little on the short end.
Despite some strong performances, the Maroon and White settled for third place overall with 62 points, in a relatively close meet at the top.
Gardner reigned supreme, winning the meet with 42 points, followed by Tahanto with 52 points. Ayer Shirley had defeated Tahanto during the dual meet season, but the Stags got revenge in the second go-around.
Narragansett (93 points), Murdock (127 points), and Maynard (149 points) rounded out the team scoring.
“Overall we felt a little disappointed,” Ayer Shirley Regional girls’ head coach Mike Seguin said. “Ultimately we thought we were going for second, because we had beaten every team besides Gardner throughout the year. Tahanto stepping up to take second was a little surprising to us. They must’ve had a really good end of the year, we saw them early on. That was our first meet of the year, and they’re a very different team than we saw them the first time.”
“I thought we were average, doing like we normally do, but on a day that we needed to be more than that,” Seguin continued. “We needed to step up and give a little more.”
Sophomore Carolyn Mason led the way for the Panthers, securing 7th place overall and league all-star recognition, with a 22 minute 58.33 second time on the 5K course.
Classmate Ada Perwak saved one of her top performances of the year for the right time, securing the final podium and league all-star spot with a tenth place showing at 23:36.31.
“(Perwak) has solidified herself as a strong No. 2, getting league all-star,” Seguin said.
Senior Marissa Grace ended her Mid Wach career in style, finishing in 12th place (23:53.42), despite battling a nagging illness.
Jane Marshall cracked the final spot in the top 15 in the race, boasting a 24:31.46. The final scoring spot went to Lillian Abelson, whose 25:00.39 was good enough for 18th overall.
“(Abelson) has started coming on strong and running better,” Seguin said. “She’s starting to pick it up at just the right time.”
Devon Perwak (19th, 25:20.30) and Caitlin Schrock (21st, 25:36.99) served as the team’s displacers.
Ayer Shirley returned to practice Monday motivated to move on to the next objective, the state qualifier at Northfield Mountain. The Panthers are already showing signs of hunger for the next opportunity.
“We’re going to work in practice on speeding them up a little more, trying to get them a little faster out there,” Seguin said. “Maybe their times were more reflective of us as coaches and not them as athletes. There’s more in that tank and we can push them harder than they think. We had a practice this week where we ramped it up and pushed them harder, and they’ve been receiving that well and doing well with that. I think they’re looking forward to bouncing back and putting in a strong performance at the state qualifier.”