NEW BEDFORD - If only the New York kid stayed home.
Then, Dartmouth's Jeremy Francisco would be the one with the course record.
And what if that girl from the Dennis-Yarmouth couldn't get off the Cape? Then GNB Voc-Tech's Tabitha Bergeron would be basking in the victory glow, instead of basking in the moral victory of her best performance yet.
Both Franscisco and Bergeron finished second to course-record-setting out-of-towners at Satruday's third annual SouthCoast Cross Country Challenge. Francisco was out-kicked 100 yards from the finish by Evan Tsemblis, a junior from Grand Isle High School near Niagara Falls. Tsemblis set the course record at a blisteringly fast 16:07.49. Francisco finished at 16:11.19. Fairhaven's Chas Mitchel, now a freshman at Rensselaer Polytech in New York, set the course record last year in the South Coast Conference Championship at 16:28.8.
Despite being overthrown at the finish by a kid he thought was from Seekonk, Francisco got a huge burst of confidence from the race.
That's huge, the junior said. Last year my best time was a 17:08. I feel so confident now I think I can make All-States even. That's the goal.
Francisco's race was a statement not lost on his SouthCoast cross country competition, drawing comparison to his former teammate Jon Gomber, who won the inaugural Challenge as a junior and is now a freshman runner at West Point.
That boy's a wonder, said New Bedford junior Ethan Santos. I call him the wonder boy. ¦ Dartmouth is really lucky to have that boy. He probably could be the next Jon Gomber. He's definitely one of the top in the area. I'm happy to run against him.
Dartmouth coach Jeff Reed was surprised by how much time Francisco has been able to trim from last year.
He's running like a minute faster this year than what I thought he would be, Reed said. He was running well last year, and we thought he'd be our No. 1 man, be very respectable. For him to be annihilating what Jon Gomber and Chas Mitchell did last year is really a pleasant surprise.
GNB Voc-Tech senior Tyler Rose, who was highly disappointed with his seventh-place finish of 17:03.63, wanted to warn Francisco not to run with Tsemblis, because, as Grand Isle coach Don Sauer said, He's one of the best in western New York, but kept his advice to himself.
He ran awesome, Rose said. I was going to tell him not to go out with (Tsemblis), but he decided he could handle it and he handled it like a pro. I guess Jon Gomber taught him a couple things.
New Bedford's Jared Correia, a senior in his first season of cross country, finished third in 16:40.56.
It was a pretty good course and great competitors, Correia said. They kept me running hard. I didn't think I'd do this good. My teammates had been beating me, so when I went ahead of them I was shocked so it wasn't a bad day.
Bergeron's time of 20:42.43 was her career best, and the school's course record. But she was still thoroughly outpaced by Dennis-Yarmouth's Megan Barry.
She was really good, Bergeron said of Barry. I'm kind of proud of her. I was thinking of trying to catch up to her, but I wouldn't have been able to finish the race.
It's the best time I've gotten on this course so far. It was so hot, I felt like I couldn't sprint at the end and I thought the Seekonk girl was going to catch me.
Seekonk's Erin Sweet finished third in 20:58.16.
Barry set the course record with a 19:36.63. Barry's teammate, Caitlyn Cosby, who set the record last year at 19:53.57, finished ninth Saturday.
Tabitha ran a great race, GNB Voc-Tech coach Mark Thornhill said. She ran a very tough race last week in Rhode Island and since then it's really woken her up. Today, only one person beat her and she's one of the best runners in the state and Tabitha wasn't that far behind her.
Contact Mike Rocha
1. Evan Tsemblis, Grand Isle HS, New York, Jr. 16:07.49; 2. Jeremy Francisco, Dartmouth, Jr. 16:11.19; 3. Jared Correia, New Bedford, Sr. 16:40.56; 4. Evan Bedford-Tuohy, Dennis Yarmouth 16:44.57; 5. Than Santos, New Bedford, Jr. 16:49.42; 6. Dylan Mello, New Bedford, Sr. 16:55.51; 7. Tyler Rose, GNB Voc-Tech, Sr. 17:03.63; 8. John Gregorek, Seekonk, So. 17:05.30; 9. Chris Carter, Grand Isle 17:18.08; 10. Jay Pllazola, Dennis Yarmouth 17:26.74
13. Paolo Duarte, New Bedford, So. 17:56.20; 15. Nick Martin, Dartmouth, Jr. 17:58.43
16. Mike Grasel, New Bedford, Jr. 18:03.16; 18. Andre Felipe, New Bedford, 18:09.69; 22. Richard Goldblatt, GNB Voc-Tech, Sr. 18:18.34
1. Megan Barry, Dennis Yarmouth, So. 19:36.63; 2. Tabitha Bergeron, GNB Voc-Tech, Jr. 20:42.43; 3. Erin Sweet, Seekonk, Jr. 20:58.16; 4. Erin Carroll, Sandwich 21:00.47; 5. Chelsey Vest, Somerset, Sr. 21:02.36; 6. Sam Eisele, Somerset, So. 21:11.74; 7. Hilary Dreyar, Jr. Martha's Vineyard 21:24.52; 8. Kat Ragone, Bourne, Sr. 21:26.44; 9. Caitlyn Crosby, Dennis Yarmouth, Sr. 21:31.42; 10. Abigil Alegi, Coyle Cassidy, So. 21:41.57
23. Jaclyn Souza, New Bedford, So. 22:33.94; 24. Vania Fernandez, GNB Voc-Tech, Sr. 22:37.08; 29. Gina Mucciardi, Dartmouth, Sr. 22:55.84