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Pinales All Team, All the Time for Lowell

September 27, 2018 GMT

LOWELL -- In a sport where nothing is given, everything is earned, Jadiel Pinales has excepted the challenge of trying to keep the Lowell High boys cross country team at the head of the Merrimack Valley Conference pack.

Pinales is the leading returning runner from a Red Raiders’ club that won the MVC Division 1, MVC League Championship Meet and EMass. Division 1 titles, while posting a second-place finish at the Division 1 All-State Meet, last fall. This senior four-year letterman possesses a deliberate and cerebral quality in both his running style and approach to reaching his personal/team goals.

There is a steadfastness to Pinales’ pursuit of victory that’s enabled him to provide a squad that is talented, but very inexperienced, with much needed veteran leadership.

Pinales finished first overall, covering Lowell’s 2.75 mile Shedd Park course in a time of 14 minutes, 49 seconds, as the Red Raiders defeated North Andover, 21-36, Central Catholic, 20-39, and Methuen, 16-45, at an MVC quad meet Wednesday afternoon. Lowell (5-0) extended its dual meet winning streak to 83 in a row.

“As far as a pure competitor, Jadiel is a guy you want on your side,” said Lowell head coach Scott Ouellet. “When you need it most, he will be there. His job this year, more than any other year, more than any other kid, is to serve as an extension of the coaching staff. He knows what it takes to win and he has to help bring the rest of our guys up to that level.”

Pinales’ unrelenting obsession to keep Lowell a step ahead of the competition on race days shines through in the dogged way he attacks a course.

“Back when I first started out I didn’t think about running for the team,” said Pinales, a Red Raider co-captain along with Sam Grimes. “I thought about running as an individual.

“Now I’m always thinking about the team. The team comes first. How can I make the team better? How can I make my teammates better? It’s all about what we do as a team. We work as a team. That’s how we win.”

As a junior, Pinales, who stands 5-foot-5 and weighs 126 pounds, was an MVC all-conference selection.

He placed seventh at the league meet, was 10th at the EMass. Division 1 Meet and finished 21st at the Division 1 All-State Meet. Pinales is undefeated in dual meets this season.

“He’s sneaky fast,” said Ouellet. “He has a lot of pure speed and you wouldn’t suspect it looking at him because he’s not a tall kid. But he has that burst if he needs it. His best attribute is his heart and his guts. He will hang in there and just put it all out there until the end. He runs smart.”

Lowell had plenty of star power last season with a lineup that featured former standouts Colin Fitzpatrick, Nasir Gibson, Carlos Rivera and Chris Galarza. Pinales learned a great deal from these teammates and is quickly running out from the large shadows cast by their many accomplishments.

“He personifies the type of kid who has made our program so successful,” said Ouellet. “He just does it the old-fashioned way, which is to do it the hard way. Anything a coach asks, he’s going to do it all the way. He’s a model teammate. That’s what you want. That’s why he’s captain. That’s why he’s had the success that he’s had.”

Pinales, a three-season runner, competes in distance and relay events in indoor and outdoor track. He logged as many as 50 training miles per week over the summer.

The ambition and agony it takes to win consistently in cross country is a grind, but Pinales always smiles through the pain.

“Mental makeup is so important,” said Pinales. “Say you’re cramping up, you have to tell yourself, ‘No, I don’t have a cramp.’ If your leg is hurting you have to tell yourself, ‘No I can’t give up.’ Basically that all comes from mental toughness. If you think about something hard enough, like believing you can win, you’ll win.”

While winning the MVC Division 1 crown is high on his list of goals, finishing one spot higher in the team standings at the All-State meet in November would enable Pinales to put an exclamation point on a cross country journey filled with numerous runs to glory.

“The first thing I learned running here is this is all about the team,” said Pinales. “If you don’t run for the team then I don’t know why you are running. The personal accomplishments will come, but you have to run for the team.”

Throughout his varsity career, the big year-end races have brought out the best in Pinales.

“The best thing you can say about him is that when the races mean the most is when he’s going to be most reliable,” said Ouellet. “As a coach that just makes you feel so good.”

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi