By Jim O'Brien
An icy wind was on its way, but runners in the B.A.A. Invitational Mile were greeted by a window of almost perfect weather.
The professional men’s race was a barn-burner, led by former high school phenom Drew Hunter. Although he was making his road mile debut, Hunter looked like a seasoned vet covering the three-loop course in Copley Square.
The seven-man field held tight around the first lap, with Hunter, Pat Casey, Sam Parsons and Daniel Herrera at the forefront. The pace held even around lap two, with Dartmouth assistant coach John Simons pushing hard alongside Hunter, Herrera and Casey as they hit halfway. Entering the final lap, all were in contention.
There was no denying Hunter, though. He assumed command on the back straight and sprinted for home as the finish line came into view, taking the victory in 4:08.02. Simons claimed second in 4:09.0 and Herrera third, 4:09.2.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” stated the winner, clad in adidas Boston Marathon gear. “I felt the whole time that I had another gear. With 100 meters to go, I was almost all out. But this was all fun. I think that’s why I ran well.”
The B.A.A. Middle School 1000m was one of the first races of the day, with 16 runners representing the eight cities and towns of the Boston Marathon route racing down Boylston, Dartmouth, and Newbury Streets.
Arcel Melo of Boston took control early on, with Gregorio Auditore (Brookline) and Sam Burgess (Framingham) a stride behind. Onto Newbury Street for the second time, Melo and Auditore began to fade, while Burgess appeared to gain in strength. Into the home straight, a powerful surge brought him through the line in 3:02.6, comfortably ahead of Brookline’s Theodor Dimov (3:04.2) and Natick’s Drew Yanovitch (3:05.9) who raced through for podium placings.
The B.A.A. Scholastic Mile race, comprising three-plus laps of the same course, was no less epic. The 16-man field bolted from the starting line with Owen Chase (Natick), Thomas Weiss (Wellesley), Andrew Mah (Newton) and William Cole-French (Boston) as the early leaders. A first lap split of 1:36 saw Chase with a half stride lead, but with all of the aforementioned, plus Noah Whiting (Newton) and Ben Burgess (Framingham, brother of middle school winner Sam) also in the fray.
One lap later, the order was Mah, Chase and Whiting, though with little between them. Around the final circuit, the margins increased, but that was how the placings stayed. At the line, Mah clocked 4:32.5 to Chase’s 4:34.0 and Whiting’s 4:37.3.
“I ran this race last year and got out-kicked,” stated Mah. “I didn’t want that to happen again.”