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GARDNER — With three runners placing in the top 20 Saturday, Whitinsville Christian captured the Central Mass. Division 2 cross-country championship for the first time at the Gardner Municipal Golf Course.

Leading the Crusaders to the team title was sophomore Molly Lashley, who finished second behind Sutton’s Jen Coseno.

Helping Whitinsville Christian to a 95-point winning total were freshman Fiona Donnelly (14th), senior Hadley Koeman (16th) and freshman Emily Dill (28th).

Bromfield, led by senior Tessa McClain’s ninth place, was second with 108 points, followed by Lunenburg (117).

Lunenburg’s top performances were turned in by eighth grader Lauren Long ( fourth) and freshman Abby Rodriquenz (ninth).

With a half-mile left in the race, Coseno trailed Lashley by a few strides before shifting into another gear and past the Whitinsville sophomore, to a winning time of 19:40 over the 3.1-mile course.

“I finished 11th here last year, and my plan was to try to get in the top five,” Coseno said. “I started out in third and just kept with the top three runners. I didn’t expect to win, but I feel very good about it.”

“I’m almost speechless,” Sutton coach Bill Gillin said. “It was such a great race for Jen, and I’m so happy for her because she works so hard. She went out very fast, and I was a little worried that it was too fast, but she came up that last hill, and she looked absolutely fabulous. This is only the second time in Sutton history that we’ve had a district champion, and both have been females. Jessie Cardin was the other one back in 2012.”

Coseno plans to run next year for Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. “I applied early decision, and I’ve been accepted,” said Coseno, a four-year varsity runner and winter and spring track star for the Suzies.

First to see the results sheet was Whitinsville Christian coach Chris Vander Baan, who quickly ran to his team and shouted, “We won!”

“I’m so proud of these girls, they work so hard,” Vander Baan said. ” We’ve finished second quite a few times, but winning a district championship for the first time is so great. Molly was our leader. She studies the sport and is so humble. Jen was a little bit better than her today, but Molly was incredible. We had seven freshman, a sophomore and a junior on this team.”

Other individual qualifiers for the All-State Meet include Parker Charter senior Sydney Korhonen (third), Holy Name freshman Emma Ronan (fifth), Douglas senior Emma Wall (sixth), Littleton sophomore Riley Clark (seventh), Littleton senior McKenzie Clark (10th), Narragansett sophomore Kylie Marion (11th), Nipmuc freshman Emma Nadolski (12th), Oakmont sophomore Fiona Picone (13th) and Douglas senior Keely Mungeam ((15th).

—Contact Jay Gearan at

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