Friday brings us the 2nd divisional championship, and while the schools are small, they are not short on talent. While the girls meet could be a runaway, the boys meet has a plethora of contending teams. On both sides, the matchups for the individual races make for some high drama, and where coaches place their arsenals will have huge implications on both individual and team titles.
The team title could be a two-way battle between Weston and Old Rochester, but teams like Newburyport and Norwell should never be counted out. The two teams match up in several events, making this a rare, compelling meet that will actually be decided on the track, rather than in the points tables. The meet ought to come right down to the relays, where ORR is the top seed in the 4x800, but Weston likely hasn't run its best squad and is seeded 4th. Weston has a slight edge in the 4x200, where these are the top two teams. What the Wildcats can bank on is that the final event, the 4x400, features their team in the seeded section, while O.R.R. will have to find some points from a slower one.
Individually, Weston's Matt Herzig will look to take the two mile crown, where his seed is a prohibitive favorite. Whether Herzig takes a run at Norwell's Owen Wiggins in the mile remains to be seen, although he might just let teammate Eli Curme go for it, in what could be the bets event of the day. Hopedale's Paul Maurias and Newburyport's Nick Carleo each have the speed to run down Wiggins, and O.R.R.'s Nick Pacheco will be looking to keep his team in the mix as well. Weston has another sure winner in the long jump, where Craig Shytle is over a foot better than the field. Just like Weston's sure wins, O.R.R. seems to have one in Mike Wyman in the 1000, and another favorite in Dan Donohue in the 300, so this thing could be right down to the wire.
There will be plenty more individual drama as well, both on the infield and on the oval. North Reading's John Braga and Dedham's Jack McCorrison have merely a hair separating them in the hurdles, as do Auburn's Dominic DiCarloand Norwell's Charly Petit in the 55. Braga shares the top seed in the high jump with Auburn's Nathan Conway and Brandon Hoghaug of Douglas. The 600 is likewise bunched, with 4 runners inside .2 seconds, including Patrick Griffin of Bromfield and Weston's own Geoffrey Pendergast. Seekonk's Nate Robataille looks to continue a tradition of great shot putters, going back to the days of Jeff Chakouian.
When all is said and done, only Old Rochester seems likely to have a shot at dethroning Weston, although even that appears tough, given the depth and breadth of events the Wildcats can score in.
While Ursuline appears to have the edge over the field in this meet, with more star power than anyone else and a good deal of depth, they do have competition in the form of upstart Narragansett and Old Rochester, as well as longer shots from NDA-Worcester and Weston. It would appear that Ursuline would need to falter to get into the sub-50 range though, and that's as far as their opponents seem fit to travel.
It starts and ends with Amy Piccolo, who proved more than capable of the 300-600 double when doing it at the Elite Meet in January, given even less rest than she would have on Friday. Her closest competition in the 300 is teammate Merissa Wright, and Wright isn't far behind in the 600 either, with only Gansett's Krista Webb in between. What Coach Tom Shaw chooses to do here, keeping both runners in both events, or splitting the points and strengthening the relays, appears to be a foregone conclusion. What you see is what you get, and with neither runner listed on a relay, they're going for it. Without the top two, the 4x200 and 4x400 relays still have placing ability, and the 4x400 could presumably still win, unless NDA can bring Emily Knox and Jane Clark to their doorstep.
But Piccolo isn't done on the track, she also shares the top seed in the long jump with Weston's Kayla Lawrence. She appears to be a one-woman scoring machine, and don't be surprised if she's the first indoor athlete ever to take three individual titles. Old Rochester has a machine of their own, as Ally Saccone is the top seed in the 55, and just a shade off the ridiculous top seed hurdle time of Emily Dawidczyk of Oxford. That will no doubt be high drama, as somebody is going to run under 8.30 and LOSE the DIV hurdles race. The, they'll come back 5 minutes later and race for the dash title. Wow!
Other individuals races to watch for will include Emily Cahill in the high jump, Uxbridge's leaper will be going after some of the state's top heights. Archbishop Williams' Sarah Sacchoach will be playing a little pick your poison, as she decides whether to attack manchester-Essex's Olivia Lantz in the mile (5:03) or take a shot at Bedford's Erin Dietz (10:51) in the two mile. Sacchoach is seeded second in both. The 1000 is a star-studded event, with NDA's Jane Clark, Ipswich's Sarah Kieran, and Lynnfield's Lexi Buonfiglio among the state's best. There will be a great battle in the shot put, in what could be a precursor to the All State final, as Mahar's Sabrina Silva, the MA #2 shot putter, tries to shake off North Reading's Emily Murray. Weston and Old Rochester should battle for 4x200 supremacy, which could be significant should Ursuline fall back. One event that ought not be much of a test will be the 4x800, where Narragansett and the Capps sisters have been rolling all year, owning the state's fastest time of 9:30.05.
If Ursuline comes away with Piccolo's and Wright's maximum points, it's hard to imagine anyone catching them, but if anyone can shave a few points away from those two stars, this thing will get a bit closer. Look to well-coached tems like NDA, Weston, and Old Rochester to be there in the end, but Ursuline just appears a bit too strong for any of them.