Tewksbury High’s Rachel Sessa leads a group of teammates to the finish line to win Wednesday’s MVC showdown meet with Billerica. SUN/JULIA
Tewksbury High's Rachel Sessa leads a group of teammates to the finish line to win Wednesday's MVC showdown meet with Billerica. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

BILLERICA -- Two undefeated Merrimack Valley Conference girls cross country teams went toe-to-toe on Wednesday afternoon in a late-season showdown.

Cross country

When all was said and done, it was Tewksbury that solidified itself as the true powerhouse in the MVC.

Redmen runners took the top four spots on Billerica's 2.75-mile course and handed the Indians their first loss by a score of 16-39. Tewksbury also defeated North Andover, 15-46, to improve its record to 8-0.

Senior Rachel Sessa took first overall with a time of 16:45, followed by teammates Mikayla Paige (16:46), Holly O'Leary (16:48) and Meghan Ostertad (16:49).

"We knew that this was going to be our toughest meet of the season," said Tewksbury head coach Peter Molloy. "We've been working all season on keeping the girls more relaxed. I loved our pre-meet temperament. When we came out through the first mile, there were a couple Billerica girls, a couple North Andover girls, a couple of our girls -- it was pretty tight. I like the way we managed the second half."

Billerica's Hannah Doherty took fifth in a time of 16:57. The top 10 was completely comprised of Tewksbury and Billerica runners. The Indians split the meet, picking up a win over North Andover to move to 7-1 on the season.

"Billerica is a heck of a team," said Molloy. "This score aside, they're a heck of a team and they're going to make some noise."

It was a prototypical effort for Tewksbury, which is loaded with depth and outstanding conditioning.


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It's been in the second half of races that the Redmen have been separating themselves from the competition.

"Mikayla and Rachel have been our No. 1 and 2 all season, Mikayla is a freshman and Rachel is a senior," said Molloy. "They have flip-flopped a little bit, but then all of our other girls have flip-flopped as the No. 3 runner. Every single kid has been the No. 3 runner. That's good because they realize it's a spot that they can all do together. It's not just how good Rachel and Mikayla are -- and they're two of the better runners in the state -- but it's how good the rest of our pack is."

Molloy said he knew before the season that this group had a chance to be special.

One of the key reasons is Sessa, who has provided senior leadership to a squad that graduated a significant amount of seniors last spring. Also an outstanding student, Sessa has her college choice narrowed down to Princeton, Dartmouth and Georgetown, and plans to continue her running career at the next level.

"Our approach to this season has been about staying healthy and building gradually," said Sessa. "We knew this would be our toughest meet, Billerica has a lot of young talent. They led the race early, so the key for us was staying patient."

Tewksbury's Lily Robinson took sixth in a time of 17:09. Billerica's Nicole Anderson (17:12), Billerica's Sarah Burns (17:17), Tewksbury's McKenzie Clark (17:31) and Billerica's Sam Maffeo (17:37) rounded out the top 10.

Both teams have one more regular season meet remaining next week.

Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone