(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)
Malden High School finished 1-2-4 in both their boys’ and girls’ cross country races against Somerville High School, powering the Golden Tornados to a sweep over the Highlanders Wednesday afternoon at the Blessing of the Bay Boat House course in Somerville.
“We knew it was going to be a tough meet,” Somerville coach Charlie Tesch said. “We knew that they were good, and it was an outside chance for us to get them.”
Malden High entered Wednesday’s race leading the Greater Boston League in both boys’ and girls’ cross country, and again they raced well. Freshman Berhanu Tsige and senior Yusuf Mohamed took the top two spots for the boys after leading for virtually the entire 2.5-mile course. Tsige finished in 13 minutes and 50 seconds, and Mohamed finished in 14:02.
Top highlander Brian Martinez finished third in 14:05. It was Martinez’s first home race this season, and his finish prevented the Golden Tornados from automatically clinching the meet. In cross country, the top five places for each team are added up, and the lower score wins. A team finishing 1-2-3 is mathematically incapable of losing.
Despite Martinez’s strong race, the Highlanders just couldn’t catch the Golden Tornados. Malden junior David Aynalem finished two seconds ahead of Somerville senior Andryc Evich for fourth, and Malden sophomore Allan La held on to edge Somerville junior Ngawang Tsering for sixth.
William Wong, the final Malden runner to score, finished eighth, but non-scorers David Kibazo and Danny Gould each finished ahead of a Somerville scorer, displacing (raising an opponent’s score without scoring yourself) sophomore Kevin Ma to 10th and Nat Dempkowski to 12th. Final score: Highlanders 37, Golden Tornados 21.
“Danny Gould and David Kibazo, they’re both sophomores, so it’s great to see them being a factor in the scoring,” Malden coach David Londino said.
The girls raced quite similarly to the boys: Golden Tornado senior Haley Dowdie finished first in 16:37. Highlander senior Pristine Mei hung with Golden Tornado junior Lauren Benoit through two miles, but Benoit passed Mei in the final half-mile to finish second in 16:40. Mei finished six seconds behind.
After Malden’s Haley DeFilippis and Jackie Bouley finished fourth and fifth, Somerville’s Melina Garro finished sixth in 17:35.
Tesch said Garro didn’t pace herself properly, wearing herself out too quickly. But in recognizing that, Tesch said, Garro’s ability to mentally plan out races improved.
“Each meet is another experiment,” Tesch said. “You’re going to go out, you’re just going to do it, see what happens, see what you can learn from that, see what you can take away in a constructive way.”
Iris Feng finished Malden’s scoring with a seventh-place finish, followed by Somerville’s Maggie Langwig in 17:58. Malden senior Marielle Colt didn’t score with her ninth-place finish, but she displaced Somerville seniors Rita Kelliher and Julia Zoukhri to 10th and 11th. Final score: Highlanders 38, Golden Tornados 21.
“It’s just a confidence-builder, because Somerville has had such a strong program the last few years,” Londino said, adding: “This is a young group, and they’re just learning that they can run with good runners.”
Though eight of Somerville’s 18 total racers (Malden raced 62) didn’t score, several still improved significantly over their first home meet last Wednesday against Medford. Senior Bhaju Khanal dropped 39 seconds off his time, and senior Anthony Lorenzo dropped 38.
For the girls, Emily Mei, Amanda Ribeiro and Cindy Mei finished almost simultaneously in 20:46 to take 16th through 18th place. Emily Mei dropped 1:21 off her previous best, while Ribeiro and Cindy Mei each dropped at least 1:40.
Freshman Iliana Nilsson – the only freshman to run for either Highlander squad Wednesday – finished 21st in 22:52. She beat her previous best by 1:19.
“You can’t ask for more than for people to run their personal best, and just about everybody did,” Tesch said. “So it’s a great day as far as I’m concerned.”
Both Malden teams are now 3-0, all in the GBL. The Somerville girls are 1-1, while the boys are 0-2.