|Senior Alex Gomes has dominated his cross-country competition at Salem State. (Spartan SportsShots)|
Salem St.’s Gomes leads Div. 3 runners
Dennis Floyd was asked if he had ever had a runner as dominant as Alex Gomes has been this season.
The Salem State cross-country coach paused for moment before responding: “As a matter of fact I have, just last year, and his name was Alex Gomes.’’
One and the same.
Gomes, who first caught the attention of Floyd as a senior at Peabody High in 2007, transferred to Salem State from the University of Southern Maine last year and immediately grabbed the Division 3 spotlight.
He won both MASCAC and New England Alliance Championships before bronchitis forced him out of the New England Championships and causing him to miss a potential trip to the NCAA championships.
As a senior, he has returned with a vengeance and dominated Division 3 competition while proving that he can hold his own against Division 1 and 2 foes, along with runners from elite running clubs in the region.
Gomes has captured the Endicott Invitational, the Pop Crowell and James Early Invitationals at Gordon, and the Saints Invitational at Franklin Park. He finished fifth overall in the Codfish Bowl, which included Division 1 and 2 runners, and 32d overall in the Mayor’s Cup, which attracted Division 1 and 2 runners and regional club teams. His best time, 25 minutes 1 second in the 8K Mayor’s Cup at Franklin Park, converts to a 5:04 mile. David Nightingale of the New York Athletic Club won in 23:46.
“Right now he’s head and shoulders above those he’s racing against in Division 3,’’ said Floyd. “He’s doing everything we’ve expected so far and that’s very exciting. He’s just a tremendous athlete and at this point in his career is running very well. The last athlete we had do anything close to what he’s been doing was Fabian Mejia in 2006. On top of all that he’s been a very good captain. He’s really taken the rest of his team under his wing. They’re learning from him and he has given them quality leadership.’’
Gomes said he worked extra hard over the summer months, especially late in August when he totaled 80 miles per week, and reported to preseason workouts in the best shape of his career. It was by design, he said, because he set personal goals.
“First off, I wanted to repeat as Alliance and MASCAC champion,’’ the 5-foot-9, 140-pound Gomes said. “Then I wanted to finish among the top eight in the New Englands to qualify for the NCAAs in Wisconsin and finish among the top 35 there to become All-American.’’
All of the meets are coming up in the next month.
Gomes said he likes to sit back in the middle of the pack to gauge his competition, and then pick up the pace in the closing miles. He admits, though, that’s been the exception, rather than the norm this season.
In both the Pop Crowell and James Early Invitationals he had no one with him after the first mile and cruised home well ahead of the field. He won both events by more than a combined minute.
Gomes said he was especially pleased with his runs in the Codfish Bowl and Mayor’s Cup.
“Those were races that I know will help me in the long run,’’ he said. “The competition was much better and I felt like I was racing rather than jogging. Even though I didn’t win, and I didn’t expect to, I felt right on.’’
Merrimack College has named its basketball court in honor of longtime coach Bert Hammel. The upcoming season will mark his 32d at the helm. Hammel is ranked 20th all-time among Division 2 coaches with 459 wins. . . . Senior Susie Boretti of Westford is among four swimmers who will captain Bentley this season. Boretti had top three New England finishes in the 500, 1000, and 1,650 freestyle last year. . . . Newbury sophomore Joanna Robie of Andover has received an All-America Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. The association presents the award to players achieving a 3.50 or higher grade point average. Robie led Newbury with a .430 batting average last year while driving in 26 runs. . . . University of Massachusetts Lowell men’s basketball coach Greg Heranda has added Mike Papale of Lowell and Souleymane Wane of Dracut to his staff, while women’s coach Sarah Behn added Erica Anderson of Lowell.
Around and about
The 40th Falmouth Road Race next Aug. 12 will be directed by Dave McGillivray of North Andover. McGillivray, who is also BAA Boston Marathon director, was chosen by the Falmouth board of directors after a national search. McGillivray has directed more than 900 events around the world and is an established runner in his own right. He has logged more than 140,000 miles and has run Falmouth many times. The first 38 Falmouth races were directed by Lucia and John Carroll and Kathleen and Richard Sherman. Last year’s race was directed by Matt Auger. . . . St. Mary’s of Lynn is looking for a varsity lacrosse coach. For more information, call athletic director Jeff Newhall at 781-586-2016.
John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.