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Latin Academy's Finch earns his sneakers at BAA Invitational Mile

Posted by Metro Desk  April 15, 2012 12:40 PM

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Robert Finch From West Roxbury High 5.08.2.jpg

Pavel Dzemianok/For the Globe

Latin Academy senior Robert Finch of West Roxbury didn't mind finishing second to last in the Boston Athletic Association's Invitational Mile for the second straight year.

There's no such thing as a free lunch and there's also no such thing as free running sneakers.
"It’s nice to get all this free gear because, I mean, these shoes, there’s no way I’d be able to buy them so it’s nice to be able earn them,” Robert Finch of West Roxbury said of his complimentary orange Adidas sneakers after finishing second to last in the boys’ Boston Athletic Association Scholastic Invitational Mile for the second straight year.

The Latin Academy senior ran the race — which loops around Boylston and Newbury Streets before finishing on the Boston Marathon’s finish line — on Sunday morning in a time of 5 minutes, 8.2 seconds.

“I’m kind of a big fish in a small pond; I’m the best in the [Boston City] league but it doesn’t really compare to some of these other guys,” Finch said of the race, which features two athletes from each city or town along the Boston Marathon course. “But it’s nice to have someone to chase. To get a better performance, I need to race people who are faster than me. It’s nice I get to do it at least once a year.”

Finch said the race also gives him a boost going into the heart of the city league season.

Boston Latin School junior Michael Ward finished the race in 4:40.6, just missing a Top 3 finish. Framingham High’s Ben Groleau won the race in 4:27.2 while Justin Keefe from Newton North (4:39.7) finished second and Tim Bolick of Hopkinton (4:40.4) was third.

“I went out and I stayed with the Brookline pack because I knew they were solid guys,” Ward said. “I stayed there till about 800 [meters] and then moved up and followed one of the Brookline guys [Mark Perry] in the last lap and just kicked it in and got caught at the line for fourth.”

Ward was running the race for the first time.

“My teammates have done it the last few yeas so they gave me some pointers,” he said. “I was just running. I knew a lot of the guys in the race so I used that to help me through it.”

Ward’s Latin School teammate, Ava Violich, finished 11th in the girls’ race with a time of 5:49.5.

“It was fun,” the sophomore said. “I've never run in road races, on concrete, before. It just gives me a feel of what it’s like to really run the marathon.”

O’Bryant junior Melissa Jean was disappointed with her last-place performance of 7:03.3.

“I did not know the course, I did not know any of the competitors,” she said.

The morning also featured a boys’ and girls’ middle school one kilometer race. John Lara of the Rafael Hernandez School in Roxbury led for the first half of the race before being eclipsed by Zachary O'Leary of Ashland, who won in 2:54.5.

“It’s all right, everybody loses,” Lara said “I was trying to get the win but he caught me. I was out in front [for one lap] and he caught me.”

Lara finished in 3 minutes flat while his brother, Joel Lara, finished in sixth place with a time of 3:13.7 to give Boston first place in the team standings.

“I felt famous," Joel said of crossing the marathon finish line.

In the middle school girls’ race, Mia Sheets, was eighth with a time of 4:01.1 and Kalsia King finished 11th (4:10.4) despite falling down and hurting her elbow at the start of the race.

“I started off trying to get to the front and I tripped and I rolled to the ground,” King said with a bandage on her right elbow. “I had to strive for a little bit, I had to catch up a little.”

Finch, who will attend George Washington University in the fall, said he's not running in college, but he will do the Marine Corps Marathon.

"I don’t think I’m fast enough to run competitively in college," he said, "but I’ll be running the rest of my life whether competitively or not."

Justin A. Rice can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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