NEW YORK — Lucas Aramburu brought a ton of momentum and confidence into yesterday’s Foot Locker Northeast Cross Country Regional Championships and it showed from the start.
The Brookline harrier, fresh off a second-place finish in the Div. 1 All-State race, was among the top 20 at the mile mark of the hilly Van Cortlandt Park layout and then went to work in the cool, calm conditions.
Aramburu, who finished third at regionals last fall, began to move through the pack and didn’t stop until he crossed the finish line in 15 minutes, 37.10 seconds for second place. The finish was a frantic one as second through 11th-place were within four seconds of each other.
The top-10 finishers qualify for the national championships on Dec. 8 in San Diego.
“I’m ecstatic, yeah,” said Aramburu. “I’m happy with how I did today and I’m looking forward to see what I can do at nationals. I went out controlled, picked it up and was lucky enough to finish second. I felt good at the end. It started to thin out (after the mile) and I moved up. I’m always out there running my hardest.”
Natick’s Grace Connolly was very conservative early on, running with Sydney Masciarelli and Marlee Starliper, and was with them with 600 yards remaining. The pair began to pull away and the three-time Div. 1 All-State champion was content to clinch a third-place finish in 17:27.60.
The race was probably the most satisfying of the season for the Stanford-bound Connolly. After qualifying for nationals as a sophomore with a fourth-place finish, she was tripped up last season with less than 800 to run and didn’t finish. She finished strong yesterday with a 5:20 final mile.
“It’s great,” said Connolly. “Last year was such a bummer. We learned so much from last year and it was great to see the progress. I was a little nervous because what happened last year was tough to get out of my head. I really just tried to stay with the top pack. It was really just us three. I didn’t have too much left when they started kicking.”
Masciarelli, who hails from Northbridge, was playing soccer a year ago as a freshman before making the switch to the trails. She flew across the finish line in 17:12.60.
“I knew I should’ve been in the top 10,” said the soft-spoken sophomore. “I wanted to run with the top pack and draft off whoever was in front for as long as I could.”
Two-time Div. 2 All-State champion Sarah Roffman of Littleton worked her way through the chase pack and sprinted hard down the final straightaway to finish a strong ninth in 18:12.10. Like Connolly, the race was enormously satisfying for Roffman, who was on the cusp of qualifying last year with her 13th-place finish.
“Last year I had less of a plan coming into this meet,” said Roffman. “It was my first cross country season last year. I knew this was going to be a super-competitive field, which I’m not used to racing against. I was able to handle it better this year.”
Massachusetts had several solid finishes in the championship races. Sophia Jacobs-Townsley of Amherst took 16th in 18:44.50 and Kate Connolly, Grace’s younger sister, was a strong 19th in 18:52.50. In the boys’ race, Richard Sturtevant of Leyden qualified with his 10th-place finish in 15:41.30 and Framingham’s Benjamin Burges was less than two seconds back in 15:43. Sean Kay of Melrose pushed hard for 15th in 16:02.20 and two-time Div. 2 All-State champion Sam Aquiviva took 20th in 16:10.10.