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St. John’s (S) races to victory

Hingham’s Michael McConville (left) narrowly beat Wakefield’s Stephen Robertson in the Division 2 race. Hingham’s Michael McConville (left) narrowly beat Wakefield’s Stephen Robertson in the Division 2 race. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Braden Campbell
Globe Correspondent / October 16, 2011

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For Jon Green and the St. John’s of Shrewsbury boys’ cross-country team, the plan for yesterday’s 52d annual Catholic Memorial Invitational at Franklin Park was simply to get a preview of the unfamiliar EMass course, the site of the 2011 All-State meet.

Winning the Division 1 title was a pleasant surprise. Green ran the race in 15:55.4 in his first try on the course, and was the only runner on the day to break 16 minutes.

“I was looking for a time under 16,’’ said Green. “The course conditions weren’t the best, so when I saw the conditions I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I just came out here and I went for the win, and just tried to hold onto it.’’

All five St. John’s scoring runners finished in the top 60, and three (Green, Connor Lucey, and Alex Crowley) finished in the top 20, earning the team title with 115 points.

“It was great, we expected to do well, but we didn’t know who we’d be running against so we didn’t know how well,’’ said coach Rich Ovian. “They all ran a great race, I don’t think any of them had a bad day.’’

Defending champion Lowell finished second with 117 points. Bishop Guertin of New Hampshire was a distant third with 169.

Wachusett took a narrow win in the girls’ Division 1 race, placing all its scorers in the top 50 to take the title with 103 points. Colleen Sands led the Mountaineers with a fourth-place time of 19:29.5. Haverhill (109 points) and Bishop Guertin (117) were second and third.

Jordan O’Dea of Dennis-Yarmouth took the top spot in the girls’ Division 1 race, running the course in 18:57.3, the only girl to finish under 19 minutes.

The Division 2 half of the meet was all Oliver Ames, with both the boys’ and girls’ teams putting up strong numbers.

“It was a good day,’’ said Oliver Ames coach Neil Levine. “You can’t complain when you get two wins.’’

The boys placed all five scorers in the top 30 to blow out the field with a score of just 80. Andrew Kerester was the top Tiger, finishing sixth in 16:51.2.

Holyoke (118 points) was a distant second in the team rankings, and Hopedale finished third with 124.

Hingham’s Mike McConville (16:04.8) was the fastest in the division, narrowly beating out Wakefield’s Stephen Robertson (16:12.0) in the closest finish of the day.

“He was probably my primary rival coming into it, I was out to beat him,’’ said McConville. “It was definitely a battle, I could barely hang on for the last 400.’’

Sarah Keiran (19:50.5) of Ipswich ran away with the top spot in the girls’ Division 2 race, finishing the course 20 seconds ahead of Oliver Ames’s Shannon Hickey (20:11.2).

Oliver Ames won with a team score of 115 points. Marblehead was second with 127, and Coyle & Cassidy was third with 130.

The Tigers were without their No. 4, 5, and 6 runners, who were among the many runners who missed the meet because of a scheduling conflict with the PSAT. Levine said their absence doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of the girls who made it to the meet.

“What matters is who steps on the race course the day you’re here,’’ said Levine. “Everybody talks about who’s not here, who’s taking PSATs, but what matters is who crosses the finish line.’’