Refusing to lose command even after losing the lead, John Mascioli of Archmere overtook Tatnall’s Jack Hagood on the final hills to win the Division II state championship in the fastest time ever run at Brandywine Creek by a Delaware boy.
In a breakthrough performance after two years of finishing second or third in major meets, Mascioli set the pace, jousting with Tatnall’s Alex Giacco and Hagood entering the final half-mile, which features three hills on a quadrangle that runners call The Box.
Hagood passed Mascioli on the first hill, with the angular stride that has made the Tatnall junior dominant over the past month. Mascioli recovered to overcome Hagood in a 200-yard duel.
Giacco, completing his third All-State season, passed the exhausted Hagood for second.
With five underclassmen – Stephen Garrett (fourth), Patrick Lynch (sixth), Joey Garrett (ninth) Henry Paul (12th) and Michael Flanagan (13th) – following, Tatnall won its fourth straight title. The Hornets’ 24-point total was second only to Dickinson’s 23 with Dave Byers in 1984.
Mascioli’s 16:13:13 finish was 14 seconds faster than Travis Payne’s winning time two years ago. St. Mark’s Greg Morrin held the course standard of 16:33 before its 2010 redesign.
When Giacco and Hagood threatened to pull away midrace, “I got it in my head to stay in contact,” Mascioli said. “I kept surging, and I felt good and controlled my breathing.
“I kicked at the top of the box, and that’s how it ended. I don’t know where it came from. It was the race of my life. I can’t describe how happy I am.
“I have really high standards. It’s good and bad. It definitely helps for days like this.”
For the second year, Mascioli cut his wavy hair to a burr cut, a gesture his team imitated.
“John’s been working for that top spot through the ups and downs all year. I’ve never seen anyone work harder,” said teammate Evan Guerin, who was in 10th place for the runner-up Auks.
Matt McGovern (fifth) of Delaware Military and Thomas Connelly (seventh) of Friends broke 17 minutes. Connor Szwetkowski (eighth) paced Caravel, which edged St. Andrew’s for third.