LYNN — For the Classical and English cross country teams, there’s one meet that’s always circled on the schedule every year. When they run against each other.
This year, it was a split, as the Classical boys topped English, 24-33, and the Bulldog girls won for the third straight year, 25-30, Tuesday at Lynn Woods.
Coaches on both sides said that it takes no effort to get their teams excited for this meet.
“There definitely is (some added intensity), these kids went to elementary and middle school together, they know each other, some of them are friends,” Classical boys coach Kevin Fidrych said. “You don’t need to instill that in them, it’s already there. There’s always a little extra intensity, and you can see it on both sides.”
“They always do (get excited) for this one. It’s one of the ones where both teams are competitive with each other,” English coach John Walsh said.
Besides the fact that the athletes from both schools are running against friends and peers, the meet is fun because it’s always competitive. On the girls side, the first eight spots alternated between English and Classical, with English’s Jackie Ramirez giving the Bulldogs an edge with a first-place finish on the 3.1-mile course in 25 minutes and eight seconds.
“Third year in a row (we won), but it was a lot tighter than previous two years,” Walsh said. “But I told them it’d be that way, a runner-for-runner type. They all came through and ran very well.”
Classical’s Kenia Mejia, who has been a top runner all season long for the Rams, finished second overall at 27:07.
The race for third place was as tight as it gets, but English’s Erin Galloway (28:11) edged Classical’s Miriam Banaca (28:12) down the stretch. English’s Lydia Igbinovia took fifth (28:58), and Classical’s Sam Anthony rounded out the top six (31:15).
“It really came down to the last four girls, but alternated all the way through,” Classical girls coach Allison Gibbs said. “There are only five of them (for Classical), so it’s been hard, but they’ve all gotten better, and I’m pretty sure today they all ran their best times. That’s a big thing for all of them.”
The Rams and Bulldogs joined together toward the end of the girls race to help a Bulldog, who fell on the home stretch of the course, make it to the finish line supported by runners from both teams.
On the boys side, English brothers Abrar and Adnan Jalal turned in big performances, but the Rams had the numbers in the top six to earn the victory.
Abrar Jalal led the way, finishing in 18:23. Classical’s Kevin Durant took second place (19:27), and his teammate Junior Mejia turned on the jets to finish third (19:34) ahead of Adnan Jalal (19:38). Classical’s Christian Alquinta took fifth place (21:24). English’s Liam McHale finished seventh (21:49).
“The back end guys, I told them you’re just as important as the top two guys, and they took it to heart and ran very well,” Fidrych said. “Lot of the younger guys, freshmen and sophomores, had personal records today. I’m very proud of all of them and they should be very proud of themselves as well. Obviously it’s a team sport but there’s the individual aspect, so I told them to keep trying to improve on an individual basis, and I’ve seen progress from each and every one of them.”