Belmont High School's Leah Brams showed a hint of what the ninth-grade runner could accomplish on cross country trails by winning going away in her first high school race back on a warm late summer day in September on her Clay Pit Pond home course.
Yesterday, on a sunny and chilly afternoon in the foothills of the Berkshires, Brams proved that she is one of the state elite harriers by running up front with some of Massachusetts' best to finish 7th in the Division 1 Cross Country State Champions.
Raced on a hilly and wooded Northfield Mountain course, Brams quickly moved up up from a 15th position to 7th by the first mile of the 3.1 mile (5 kilometer) race and hung onto the position throughout the race.
Wearing a yellow and white cap more appropriate for cross-country skiing (more about that later), Brams kept all but eventual winner Catarina Rocha of Peabody – who won last year and was 7th in last year's Foot Locker national championships in San Diego – in sight during the race.
In the final stretch to the finish, Brams held off another freshman, Margie Cullen of Needham, by three-quarters of a second to finish in 7th with a time of 19.26.14, and nearly catching Mel Devoney of Amherst-Pelham for 6th.
Just how fast Brams ran the race, go down to the High School track and run one lap in 1 minute and 33 seconds. After you catch your breath, now run the same time for an additional 11 laps (plus add 130 yards for good measure) without stopping.
Brams' time earned her a National Elite silver standard ranking. Last week, Brams came in second in the Div. 3 Eastern Mass. Championships.
Combined with the Division 2 times, Brams' time was the 15th best overall and third fastest for freshmen and younger, with only Newton South's frosh Rebecca Grushby and an eighth grader from Tyngborough, Jaylan Fraser-Mines, running quicker.
If Brams intends to keep with her athletic plans for her freshmen year, Saturday's race could be the final time Belmont will see her wearing track shoes; in September she stated she will ski cross-country in the winter season and this spring try out for the Girls' Lacrosse team.