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UML-bound Skelly runs once more for North Middlesex Reg.

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PEPPERELL — North Middlesex Regional graduate Chris Skelly missed out on the championship season in his final year of high school track, but he had one more chance to represent the Patriots, this time with a little funding on the line for his alma-mater.

Skelly raced in the Tommy Cochary High School Mile on Saturday as part of the Falmouth Road Race festivities. The race started at Falmouth High School’s Kalperis Track.

This past spring, Skelly signed a national letter of intent to run cross country and track and field for Division 1 University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he will be shipping off in the coming weeks.

“It’s going to be fun to run this race because there is no pressure,” Skelly said. “If I do well it’s great, but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world. It’s good to get one more race in for my high school.”

Skelly is one of 10 runners selected from throughout the state, and if he pulls off a first-place performance, the organization will cut a check for $2,500 for North Middlesex community service activities. Each of the 10 runners gets New Balance gear for participating, including a backpack, shoes, a shirt and shorts.

In order to qualify for the race, participants must not only be able to run a lightning-fast mile, but must also be involved in community service activities at their school.

“They have a youth mile and a high school mile,” Skelly said. “The values of the race is that students have competitive mile times and must make strong choices in life. It’s anyone’s race to win, because all the athletes are really talented.”

Skelly’s main community service project at North Middlesex was a military support group called Operation Cookie Drop.

Representatives from the group visit active-duty service members, veterans and their families, dropping off care packages and sitting down to learn about their experiences and life lessons. Skelly was also a member of the National Honor Society.

Earlier this spring, Skelly was deciding between three schools for college, UMass Lowell, Merrimack College (Division 2) and Westfield State University (Division 3). After careful deliberation, he chose to become a River Hawk, gaining a partial athletic scholarship and numerous academic scholarships.

What tipped the scales? Skelly was impressed by the coaching staff and athletes already on the UMass Lowell team, which competes in the America East Conference.

“The thing that set

Lowell apart was that the coaching staff has an amazing reputation,” Skelly said.

“I really liked hanging out with the team, and I know the academics are really good for my major.”

Skelly plans to major in exercise physiology, with a minor in nutrition.

He has not made up his mind on a potential career yet, but hopes to work in the health sciences, whether as a physician’s assistant or physical therapist.

“I didn’t focus on the division of the athletics teams, I was solely focused on the academics,” Skelly said. “All three schools had a great program, but I liked Lowell because they have a graduate school and excellent reviews.”