NIRCA Regionals 2019: Utica Park, MD

The sun crept into the sky eerily Saturday morning, illuminating a gaggle of deserted runners in the parking lot off North College Ave at six in the morning. It wasn’t for another hour that the regional bound runners would be hastily shepherded onto a commandeered school bus with just three hours to make it to the NIRCA Regional race in Frederick, Maryland. 

The bus creaked its way into Utica Park 30 minutes before the girl’s race was scheduled to go off, sending pangs of nerves through the girls who scrambled through half-completed warmups to make it to the line on time.

To qualify for the championship race at NIRCA Nationals in November, the girls needed to be in the top nine teams. Despite a rocky start, the girls had a phenomenal performance, conquering the thick grass of Utica Park and placing seventh overall.

For the girls, this season has been one of a constantly shifting top seven and steadily shrinking 1-5 gap as the depth of the team became more and more pronounced. Leading the way for the first time this season was senior Abby Kaye, who ran an astounding time of 24:21.4, good for 35th place in a race of 235 girls.

Kaye led the race from the start, going out fast with a 6:11 mile, and pushing through to close the last .72 at a speedy 6:29 pace. Emma Bateman, a consistent top-five runner, moved through the packs and steadily gained on Kaye, coming through with a time of 24:39.5 and earning herself 45th place.

The rest of the top five relentlessly pushed through the race with the ultimate pack mentality. Emily Magoon (24:54.0), Elise LaFramboise (24:55.5), and Talia Brookstein-Burke (24:55.7) used one another to get through the course, running the vast majority of the race in a tight 1-2-3 formation. The girls finished within 1.7 seconds of each other, placing 53rd, 54th, and 55th, respectfully. 

Coming in hot on their heels was Allison Einig for 60th place in 25:08.0, followed by Ana Dacey in 83rd place with a time of 25:41.1 to round out the top seven. The resilience of the girls and their natural reliance on fellow team members as motivation is what ultimately got them to a 1-5 split of just 34.3 seconds.  

Several girls had incredible PRs, including sophomore Samantha Sullivan who dropped 47 seconds , Catherine Wood who bested her PR by 57 seconds, Madison Shuler who dropped 37 seconds off her previous best time, and Caroline O’Gorman who shaved off almost a full minute!  

While the boys had the full hour to warm up, they, unfortunately, had to face a course of endless loops during their race that threatened to make even the spectators dizzy. The boys needed to place in the top ten teams to qualify for the championship race at Nationals. While they fell just short of that goal with a 12th place finish, they ran incredibly well and saw some great new PRs! 

Lead runner Michael Murphy had to drop out of the race after beginning to feel severely light-headed, luckily, sophomore Schuyler Reed stepped up and led for the second half of the race, coming in first for the guys with a time of 27:09.2 in 59th place. 

Senior Evan Massa was second for the boys, coming in with a time of 27:30.9 and breaking his previous 8k PR by 4 seconds. Shortly behind Massa was senior Brendan Jones in a time 27:44.4. 

Capping off the top seven were John Papadopoulos (27:52.10), Paul Filipow (28:46.2), Tim Fenton (29:29.6), and Jacob Henry (29:30.7), who shaved a total of 20 seconds off his PR! 

The boy’s team also saw a slew of crazy PRs, with sophomore Pisey Yun slashing over a minute off his previous time and Jonathon Craig dropping 10 seconds from his time in addition to all the PRs in the top seven. 

The resilience of the team was tested by the difficult circumstances and mentally challenging course, but if this was a test, the Blue Hens surely passed with flying colors. 

On November 16th, the Blue Hens will travel to Richmond, VA for NIRCA Nationals. The top seven girls will compete in the Championship race, while the rest of the girl’s team and the entire men’s team will race in the age-categories races (fresh/soph and junior/senior) Let’s hope for fewer loops and above-freezing weather, folks! 

Full results can be found here

Senior Abby Kaye came in first for the blue hens at the NIRCA Regionals meet (Photography by Magoon Family)

Allison Einig(from left), Emily Magoon, Elise LaFramboise, and Talia Brookstein-Burke pack it up near mile 3. (Photography by Magoon Family)

Emily Magoon (from left), Ana Dacey, Talia Brookstein-Burke,Emma Bateman Allison Einig, Abby Kaye, and Elise LaFramboise will be representing the girls for the Championship race at NIRCA Nationals (Photography by Emily Hansell)

Schuyler Reed was the first blue hen for the guy’s team (Photography by Magoon Family)

Evan Massa PR’d by 4 seconds and got to run next to this guy with cool short (Photography by Magoon Family)

Tim Fenton (from left), Brendan Jones, Paul Filipow, Schuyler Reed,John Papodopolous, Evan Massa, and Jacob Henry were the top 7 for the boy’s team.