Good news for MVRHS harriers in season opener

Peter Burke Wins XC Invitational; Shoeless Dan daSilva shines.

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Updated Sept. 18

Peter Burke won the boys varsity 3.1-mile Vineyard Invitational cross-country race against an elite field on Saturday afternoon at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), shattering the school record with a personal best time of 16:24.44.

The senior captain’s performance capped a great day for Vineyard boys and girls harriers against a field of 650 runners from around the state. 

One of the feel-good stories involved freshman Daniel da Silva, who finished seventh in a freshman field that included crème de la crème teams like Bishop Feehan and Shepherd Hill.

Here’s the kicker: Da Silva threw a shoe halfway into the race, took off the other shoe, and ran barefoot the rest of the way in his first high school meet.

He crossed the finish line holding both shoes. “The last part of the race was kind of a blur. Losing a shoe kind of messed up my form a little, or I might have finished higher,” he told the Times after his jaunt.

In the boys JV race, Duncan Brown had a stunning performance, knocking almost two minutes off his best time to finish in 21st place at 19:43. Borja Tolay also had a personal best time of 17:43.17 in the boys varsity race. 

Last week Schroeder told the Times that Burke and Brown were approaching the season on a mission. “It was so good to see Peter come across the finish line on Saturday,” he said of the senior captain’s record-setting run, which eclipsed his son Michael Schroeder’s 2012 record.

“And Duncan really did his running homework this summer,” Schroeder said of the sophomore runner, who was intently chasing the winner’s circle his freshman year.

Overall, the Vineyarder boys varsity finished third in a battle of the best schools, behind Bishop Feehan and Oliver Ames, in front of Shepherd Hill. The girls varsity finished fifth in the invitational meet.

“We knew the boys were going to be strong and vying for the top three or four spots. Impressive to have all seven varsity boys in the top 48 spots, and six in the top 38. We showed up well in a field of 82 varsity runners: Isaac Higgins, 18th (17:36.66), Tolay, 24th (17:43.17), Keiran Karabees, 32th (17:54.11), Vito Aiello, 36th (18:04.99), Nathaniel Porterfield, 38th (18:06.12), and Tom Sykes, 48th (18:59.95),” he said.

“For the girls varsity, it was very encouraging to see Margaret Sykes, Katy Freeman, — both with personal bests — and Ashley Biggs stepping up the way they did,” he said, noting that top runners Yayla DeChiara and Amber Cuthbert are injured. On the girls side, six runners propelled the Vineyarders to a top-five finish: Adrienne Christy at seventh (20:12.59), followed by sister Eloise at 17 (20: 58.91), Catherine Cherry, 21st (21:07.89), Kaitlyn Freeman, 54th (23:22.51), Margaret Sykes at 60 (23:47.84), and Ashley Biggs in 65th (24:44.32) in a field of 76.

Sarah Creator had a solid race in the girls JV event, finishing 64th among 121 runners at 27:34.90. There were no MVRHS entrants in the freshman girl events. 

Good news abounded, including a host of Vineyard runners finishing in top 10s and top 20s. For example, a pack of purple and white–clad runners followed Burke across the finish line in the boys event, lifting the Purple to a top-three finish. Good things happen in bunches. On Sunday, fresh off his cross-country win, Burke climbed atop the M.V. Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby leaderboard with a 16.22-pound striped bass caught from shore.

The event, sponsored by the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association (MSTCA), drew 16 schools on Saturday, down from 30 and 800 to 900 runners who had signed up before the event was postponed last week due to Hurricane Dorian’s aftermath.

The Vineyarder boys JV got some fist pumps from the crowd of several hundred on a gorgeous fall afternoon. Owen Atkins finished fifth in a field of 126 runners at 18:41.19, a race in which the second- through fifth-place runners were separated by 29 seconds. Duncan Brown was 21st at 21:19.48. Henry D’Andrea, Dash Christy, and Matthew D’Andrea ran as a pack, finishing 31, 32, and 33 at 20:19. Ethan Creato was 50th (21:09.12), Sam Fetters was 87th (22:44.96), Calvin Brooks, 88th (22:48.48), and Owen Steenkamp was 102nd (23:50.10).

Nathan Cuthbert finished 11th in the freshman race, picking up the torch from sister Amber Cuthbert, who is injured. Jack Crawford placed 22nd and Linus Munn, 32nd, for the frosh.

The Vineyard Invitational provided a carefree atmosphere for hundreds of parents and classmates wandering among team tents, the result boards, and the food and swag booths. MVRHS athletic trainer Tania Laslovich was reasonably busy in her sick bay setup, principally ice-wrapping legs and ankles. Laslovich also had an ice water setup for heat-affected athletes, and an immersion tank ready for severely affected runners. The extreme protocols weren’t needed on a fairly balmy Saturday, so Laslovich concentrated on “teaching kids to understand what their bodies are telling them. What is a big deal injury-wise, and what is not,” she said.

Dianne Powers, former register of deeds for the county, was squiring family members Becki and Tom Skinner around the complex. The couple’s daughter Molly was competing in her first race for Oliver Ames High School. Molly finished ninth among her teammates, and 51st overall. “This is just a wonderful event and day. Dianne, we call her Auntie, has been great,” an obviously relieved first-race mom Becki said after Molly’s race.

The Vineyard harriers were back in action at MVRHS on Tuesday for the Cape and Islands League opener against the Falmouth Clippers. The Vineyard girls prevailed, 15-49, while the boys won 20-43. 

Adrienne Christy led a top-five Vineyard sweep for the girls, crossing the finish line in 20:17. Eloise Christy was second (20:26); Catherine Cherry, third (21:44); Yayla DeChiara, fourth (21:59); and Kaitlyn Freeman, fifth (23:13). Margaret Sykes (sixth, 24:10) and Ashley Biggs (eighth, 24:59) also made the top 10.

Falmouth’s Henry Gartner won the boys race in 17:26, but the Vineyarders claimed the rest of the top 10. Zach Utz was second (17:28), followed by Peter Burke (third, 18:04), Isaac Richards (fourth, 18:05), Vito Aiello (fifth, 18:31), Borja Tolay (sixth, 18:33),; Kieran Karabees (seventh, 18:35), Nate Porterfield (eighth, 18:39), Tom Sykes (ninth, 18:45), and Daniel da Silva (10th, 18:50).