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Mako demolishes another record

Why expect Saturday to be any different than the rest of her meets for Frontier Regional School cross-country runner Natalie Mako?

After a record-breaking regular season, Mako went into the first postseason meet of the fall and again shattered a record by taking first place at the Pioneer Valley Interscholastic Athletic Conference Championships at Stanley Park in Westfield.

The senior distance runner extraordinaire set a new precedent for greatness on the local cross-country scene this fall by breaking course records in six of her seven regular-season meets. She stamped the first punctuation mark on her regular-season performances Saturday by finishing the 5K meet in a record-shattering time of 18 minutes, 7.88 seconds, a whopping 37 seconds faster than the runner-up. The previous-best time for the nine-year-old PVIACs came back in 2008, when Holyoke Catholic High School’s Kristen Veit finished the course in 18:31.96.

The PVIAC Championships bring together all Pioneer Valley teams in all divisions. It falls on the weekend before the WMass Division I and II Championships, which include all the Berkshire County schools and serve as the qualifier to the state championships. Because the PVIAC meet does not serve as a qualifier for States, some runners don’t feel the need to push themselves, so as to not burn their bodies out for the WMass championships. According to Frontier coach Bob Smith, Mako didn’t treat this race any differently from every other race she has run this season.

“We treat every race the same,” he said. “We don’t look ahead, we don’t think ahead. Natalie is taking everything one race at a time.”

Westfield High School’s Allyson Morin was the second-place finisher in the girls’ division with a time of 18:44.59. Amherst Regional High School’s Mel Devoney came in third at 19:06.61.

Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s Abbi Yezierski was the second fastest local finisher with a 21st-place time of 20:41.32, while teammate Natasha Olanyk was just behind in a time of 20:47.26, good for 24th. Greenfield High School eighth-grader Eve Charest came in 27th overall at 20:50.86. Turners Falls High School’s Clarisse Hutchinson placed 34th at 21:06.7. Frontier placed the next two runners in Mairead Ferry (35th) in 21:07.62 and Savannah Emery (43rd) in 21:21.97, while Mohawk’s Lilly Wells was the last local female in the top 50 with her 47th-place time of 21:24.85.

• On the boys’ side, Westfield High School showed off its power by placing the top three runners. Tim Dostie won the meet in 15:43.43. His Bomber teammates Matt Jacobson (15:47.52) and Blake Croteau (16:02.70) came in second and third.

Mahar Regional School, finishing up its first season back on the cross country scene, had the top local finisher in Zabien Shaw, who came in 30th overall at 17:15.91. Mohawk’s Evan Wheeler placed 33rd in 17:24.73. Greenfield’s Colen Stack took 38th in 17:32.15.

The WMass Division I and II championships will take place Saturday at Northfield Mountain.

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