Vineyard Invite: Sullivan Wins, Two Straight For Piedade

After dealing with some health issues over the last year, Barrington’s Brandon Piedade got just what he needed with the cross-country season just a few weeks old.

As for St. Raphael’s Rory Sullivan, she proved what was already known when talking about our leading contenders for the individual state crown.

Both runners made their points crystal clear at Saturday’s Vineyard X-C Invitational on Martha’s Vineyard.

Piedade, a senior, defended his crown in the boys’ race at the 16th annual event by posting a solid 16 minutes, 12.0 seconds for the five-kilometer course. Sullivan, also a senior. raced to a state-leading 18:50.10 to win the girls’ title.

It’s been a long road for Piedade since winning last year’s title at the Vineyard Invite. Less than two month after his 2022 victory, the Eagles’ standout began to experience a low energy level that affected his performances in longer races, such as the 5K.

“I worked with many doctors on it and what we suspect, based on my symptoms, it was something glycogen related where the body is not processing glycogen,” he said. “I really have been dealing with it since early cross-country season my junior year.”

Piedade won the Injury Fund and Broncos invitational meets his junior year. After finishing second at the Class B Championships, he finished 33rd at the States where he ran 17:09.30. While he did have some shining moments during the indoor season, including a victory for 3,200 meters at the Freedom Games in New York on Jan. 6 where he ran an impressive 9:21.10, things began to progressively get worse to the point where he had to shut down his outdoor season in late April.

“In indoor track it got a little bit better just because it was a shorter distance. My training didn’t get any better,” he said. “I ran a 9:21 for the 3,200 at the Ocean Breeze Freedom Games. After that, it got so bad to the point where I couldn’t even run a 3K. I couldn’t do an easy run and I was like, ‘I got to call it quits.'”

Piedade admitted he was feeling the effects of his symptoms at the Injury Fund Invitational last weekend where he led in the early stages of the Jon Barnes Race, before falling back to fourth overall with a time of 16:44.08, 40 seconds behind individual winner Sam Henderson of Cumberland.

Saturday’s race got a thumbs up.

“Learning how to manage my symptoms and eventually get to the point where it’s not going to effect me anymore is what I’m trying to do right now,” he said. “It’s clearly working. (I didn’t feel it at) all today, which is really good.”

Barrington, which has been making the trip to Martha’s Vineyard over the last few years, had a strong all-around day at this weekend’s meet. The Eagles captured the team title in the Varsity race, easily defeating Ledyard (CT), 58-105. St. Ray’s was seventh among the 21 teams with 166 points.

Behind Piedade, the Saints’ JJ Rocha finished third in 16:33.28. Locally, he was followed by Barrington’s Myles Napolitano (fourth, 16:39.87). St. Ray’s Noah VanHorn (12th, 17:22.06). and Barrington teammates Elliot Lefort (13th, 17:23.13), and Sam Bishop (15th, 17:43.08).

Barrington’s Colby Napolitano won the Freshmen title, covering the 3K distance in 10:52.56. In the JV race, the Eagles’ Fritz Muehlbauer was the first to break the tape, clocking a PR of 18:12.12.

In the girls’ varsity race, Sullivan moved to the front right from the beginning. She battled with eventual runner-up Abby Flagg of Whitinsville Christian for the first half of the race. From there, she started to pull away and won by a comfortable 29 seconds over Flagg.

“I kind of picked it up and started to throw in some surges,” she said. “I just separated and felt really good…I felt really relaxed, honestly, especially towards the end. I felt good the whole way.”

Sullivan is coming off a second-place finish to Chariho’s Erin von Housen at the Injury Fund meet. She indicated she’s not rushing into the season after dealing with a minor injury during the summer.

“(At Injury Fund), I was just tempo-ing it. I was just trying to be comfortable,” she said. “I dealt with a little bit of an injury towards the end of the summer. I haven’t really been training that much. My volume has been low. I really haven’t done much speed or any workouts. I’m just happy to be out here and racing.”

Sullivan, a first-team, all-stater the last three years, will be looking to continue that trend at the State Meet in early November.

“I just want to do as best as I can on that given day,” she said. “I am really lucky to have done well there that last three years and be consistent. As long as I give my best effort, I’ll be happy with it.”

As a team, Barrington was fifth among the 12 schools. Missing a few key runners, the Saints were tenth. The Eagles’ Mia He was 22nd overall in 21:54.22. She was followed by teammates Sara Change (28th, 22:23.82) and Maeve Kelly (32nd, 22:44.67).

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