Photo: A Belmont High harrier on their home course for the first time
After three years wandering the Middlesex League to run as visitors on opponent’s courses, Belmont High Cross Country teams finally has a place they can call their own.
And what a place to hold a meet: a new course on the a gently rolling terrain of Rock Meadow Conservation Area off Mill Street. Using existing portions of the Western Greenway, the 2.9 miles multi loop course transverse the 70-acre of high grass meadow, tree-lined trails as well as the wooden boardwalk over the deep emergent marsh. Being a loop race course, fans can stand at one location and watch the progress of the runners during the competition.
Rock Meadow replaces the former trek around Clay Pit Pond and the fields surrounding the former high school which was abandoned with the construction of the new Middle and High School project.
“The coaches [Melissa Tkacs and William Brotchie] went through a long list and Rock Meadow is such a beautiful place,” said Adam Pritchard, Belmont Schools Athletic Director, noting the land had been used by other cross country programs – Belmont Hill and Harvard intermural – in recent years. “We decided to ask the town … and we were fortunate enough to have access for three home meets.”
With a course that embraces nature in protected greenspace that highlights the changing seasons as the autumn foliage starts to take hold, Belmont’s Rock Meadow home is one of the most esthetically appealing in the Middlesex League if not eastern Massachusetts.
At the first meet of the season on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Belmont’s runners secured 15-45 victories – taking the first five places – in the boys’ and girls’ races against Stoneham. Sophomore Jared Rife (16 minutes, 44 seconds) and senior Stella Lesnik (time to come) crossed the finish line first, giving them the inaugural course and Belmont High records for the new home.
Belmont will race on their home course twice more this season; hosting Lexington on Tuesday, Sept. 27 and Reading on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The meets start at 4 p.m.