EASTHAMPTON — Colin Dawson surprised himself.
The Smith Vocational junior had never crossed the line first in a cross country race before Tuesday against Easthampton at Nonotuck Park. He won the boys race in 20 minutes, 16 seconds and led the Vikings to a 24-31 road win.
“I didn’t think I was gonna get first. I never thought of myself as the fastest,” Dawson said. “My legs were hurting. I just thought, ‘I’m going to keep going.’ If I stop now, it’s not really worth the effort of doing it at all.”
The Vikings and Eagles traded finishers for the first five positions. Easthampton’s Gianni Soucy took second (20:18) followed by Patrick Millin of Smith Vocational in third (20:28), teammate Leverett Horrigan in fourth (20:47) then the Vikings’ Myles Chinappa in fifth (21:35).
Smith Vocational’s Ari Ginsberg finished strong in sixth (22:18) to help the Vikings seal the victory. Smith Vocational does not have a girls team this year, so the Eagles girls squad ran on their own.
“This was huge. We struggled last year with numbers, but we picked up a lot of talented runners this year,” Smith Vocational coach Joshua Shearer said. “Our five and six [runners] pulled through today, and that set the tone for the younger guys. This was a big moment for us because we struggled last year. So this is a building of our program.”
The Vikings are further along in the construction project than the Eagles. Easthampton started as a club program in