By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough/Grafton – Three members of the Marlborough and Grafton High School cross country teams earned recognition from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) at this year’s Cross Country Recognition Breakfast Nov. 15.
Athletic directors from 25 schools in the Midland Wachusett League selected Marlborough’s Brian Oram and Amanda Vilensky as male and female runners who best exemplified athletic ability, citizenship and leadership. Grafton runner Abigail Hamilton won the same honor as the female representative for the South Worcester County League.
“Cross country and cross country athletes do not get the same recognition as other sports, so any time we get a chance to showcase some of the student-athletes, it is very special,” said Marlborough Boys’ Cross Country Coach Jeff Downin. “It is quite an honor to get to coach Brian and Amanda every day. I could not imagine anyone more deserving of this award.”
On the course, Oram entered this fall already with a reputable high school cross country career behind him. Notably, he led all Massachusetts sophomores with a 12th place finish at the 2015 state meet. This year, he placed sixth at the Division 1 Central Massachusetts Championship meet Nov. 11. Vilensky had similar success, notching several top three finishes in this regular season alone and placed 57th out of 127 at the same Central Massachusetts Championship meet.
In Grafton, Hamilton earned a spot in this year’s state championship meet, placing 14th at the qualifying race. She also won several races during the regular season and helped her team secure the best win-loss record in their league.
After Hamilton’s recognition at the state level, however, Grafton Athletic Director James Scanlon celebrated her leadership in addition to her athletic prowess.
“Abby leads by example in everything she does,” he said. “She is an excellent representation of Grafton High School, our athletic program, and everything we strive to instill in our students.”
Scanlon noted that Hamilton serves on the Grafton High Student Council and volunteers through the Best Buddies Program. Her team also won this year’s Central Mass. Division 1 Ted Dutkiewicz Cross Country Sportsmanship Award, something Scanlon said is connected to the leadership skills that earned her this recent recognition.
Downin echoed that sentiment as he celebrated his school’s winners.
“I have known how great they are for years, so it is satisfying to have them recognized by the state for their talent, but more importantly, for their leadership and character,” he said. “Someday, their talent will fade, but their character will stay with them and define who they are.”