By Mike Biglin
 
For the Walpole High cross country teams, Saturday’s Bay State Conference championship meet at Coakley Middle School in Norwood was more a tune-up for the EMass Division 3 meet in two weeks time.
 
The Rebels teams placed pretty much where they expected – with the boys finishing solidly sixth in the team competition, while the girls were seventh, just one point behind Newton North. Both coaches left the meet content, and now their focus is squarely on the race at Wrentham Developmental Center on Nov. 11.
 
The best individual showing was on the boys side, with sophomore Shane Grant placing 24th with a time of 16:22 on the 5K course. He was soon followed by classmate Anthony Borelli, who was 28th in 16:25.
 
Senior captain Jon Benoit was next, clocking 16:47. Then came sophomore Nathan Schnaider (17:01) and senior captain Sean Corriveau (17:02) just a second apart, followed by sophomores Tyler Sullivan and Ryan Stockwell who both ran 17:16.
 
“Anthony and Nathan had really nice races,” said boys coach Tim Gilbin. “We knew the sophomore class was going to make up the bulk of the varsity squad this season. The senior captains have done a good job, and hopefully the young guys are stepping up at the right time.”
 
On the girls side, junior Caroline McGrath was 28th overall with a time of 19:57. But then the Rebels had a fabulous grouping of four runners within seven seconds of each other. Senior captain Sarah Tierney ran 20:04, sophomore Colleen Barry posted 20:09, senior Danielle Borelli came home in 20:10, and senior captain Lindsey Ganshirt was just a second behind Borelli.
 
Coach Conor Cashman had one final grouping, with junior Leah Whearty (21:05), sophomore Jenna Allman (21:07) and junior Claire Sullivan (21:12) all within seven seconds of each other.
 
“I was pretty happy with our performance,” said Cashman. “A couple people didn’t have great races, but overall I thought we improved on a fast course.
 
“We have a couple of veterans coming back from injury who are rounding into form,” Cashman said. “I’m happy to see Sarah Tierney back. This was only her third race of the season. And Lindsay Ganshirt ran a strong personal best.”
 
Cashman also made the decision to rest two of his freshman talents, Mia Costa and Danielle Dentremont. Costa had just run a 19:11 5K at the Twilight Meet a week prior, and a similar time would’ve placed her around 16-17th spot – easily giving the Rebels sixth place. But sixth place at the BSC meet isn’t the big goal – placing top four at the divisional meet to move on to All-States is the prize worth chasing.
 
The Rebels girls are the defending EMass Div. 3 champions, who went on to finish eighth at All-States, and they only lost one of their top five from last year’s squad. So Cashman is hopeful that his club can once again make a run at a title, but knows it will be tougher this year with realignment bringing Tewksbury and Milton into the Div. 3 fold.
 
“Those two are two very, very good programs, and we already lost the dual-meet to Milton this year,” said Cashman. “But I’m hoping the strong competition brings out the best in my team.”
 
Gilbin is of the same mindset, looking for his club to make a run at a top-four showing.
 
“There are a few top teams in Div. 3, and then after that it’s pretty wide open,” he said. “We’re hoping to get through to the All-State meet. It will be a tall order, but if we all run well on the same day we can do it.
 
“Everybody has had good individual races during the season, but they haven’t all come on the same day. If everybody has their best race on Nov. 11, we’ll be competitive. If that doesn’t happen, we won’t be.”