NORTHFIELD — Bishop Feehan coach Bob L’Homme reached over the temporary orange plastic fencing to congratulate his girls. He told them he thought they won the team title in Saturday’s MIAA state championship.
“A reporter wouldn’t be walking toward us if she didn’t have good news,” he said while gathered with runners and parents.
Led by junior Abbey McNulty’s victory in 18 minutes and 20.72 seconds, Bishop Feehan won its fourth consecutive state title in Division 2. Next year the school will move to Division 1.
“I thought this was going to be a bit of a rebuilding year because it’s all underclassmen, there’s only one senior,” L’Homme said. “As the year built up, they really showed some signs of improvement and they really came together. It was just awesome.”
L’Homme believes his girls are ready for the move. Bishop Feehan will be anchored by his top three juniors in McNulty, Brynna Harum (13th, 19:39.80), and Kate Svensen (36th, 20:16.89).
McNulty finished the 5-kilometer race 11 seconds ahead of Bedford’s Erin Dietz (18:31.65), but said it was neck-and-neck through the one lap course. She edged ahead in the last quarter-mile.
“After the last [hill], I was like ‘I have to make my move. It’s either now or never,’ ” McNulty said. “If I didn’t have her next to me, I wouldn’t have pushed myself. The whole point of a race is to be challenged. It feels so much better when you win, when you know that you fought your hardest.”
L’Homme said McNulty is the first Shamrock to break 19 minutes on the hilly course. Tyngsboro sophomore Kerri Keohane was the third runner to cross the line, finishing in 18:56.03.
“It’s a tough course, it takes it’s toll,” L’Homme said. “They all ran well, so it’s very exciting.”
The Shamrocks finished with 73 points. Tyngsboro came in second with 90, and Weston finished third with 133.
In the first race of the day, Peabody’s Catarina Rocha broke the tape at 18:06.12 — 45 seconds ahead of Acton-Boxboro’s Christine Davis (18:51.02) — for her second consecutive state title.
In preparing for her last MIAA race, her father and coach, Joe Rocha, told her to stay with the pack for the first mile.
“The first mile was kind of just stay with everyone, so don’t kill yourself on the first hill and then afterward just relax,” she said.
Rocha made her move after 800 meters. Rarely does she look behind her, but in the last stretch she glanced back and eased into her finish. Her next move is to the Northeast Regional Foot Locker race in New York on Saturday.
Peabody won the Division 1 crown with 108 points. Lincoln-Sudbury finished second with 117, and Needham was third with 118.