Rocha's Record Run Leads Lantz & McNulty Sub 5




Catarina Rocha's farewell performance at the Reggie Lewis Center proved to be her best.

The Peabody star put her head down, pumped her arms and drove across the finish line, breaking her own meet record with a new personal best of 4 minutes, 49.14 seconds at yesterday's state meet. Runner-up Olivia Lantz of Manchester Essex (4:57.67) and Bishop Feehan’s Abby McNulty (4:58.30) were left behind, but still came away with impressive personal bests.

Rocha, whose legend continues to grow with each race, was her usual humble self after running the fifth-fastest time ever by a Massachusetts girl. “I wanted to break it (4:50) because it’s my last indoor race,” she said. “The crowd gave me a lot of support. It’s always cool to run here. I was trying to hit splits, but after the first lap I just ran. I didn’t even know I had the meet record before. I knew there were some girls who had run under five and I was hoping they’d push me.”

Ursuline’s Amy Piccolo pretty much knew she’d have to run a new personal best to capture the 600 against a deep field. The senior followed Meghan Bellerose of Newton North until the final backstraight where she accelerated into the lead and sprinted across the finish line in 1:32.56.

Piccolo had the personal best she needed to take the win. “The pace was fast,” said Piccolo. “I wanted to stay behind the first runner. I knew she was up on me on the last corner. We’ve been doing a lot of a weights and I think it really helped.”

Meghan Bellerose and Michaela Smith took second in the 600 and shot put respectively, and the 4x400 team took third to pace Newton North to the team title with 27 points. Acton-Boxboro was a close second with 21 points and Cambridge and Lexington tied for third with 20 points. Lowell was victorious on the boys' side.

Emily Dawidczyk of Oxford had a huge day, coming away with wins in both the 55 hurdles (8.29) and the long jump (17-9-1/2) while teammate Emily Cahill captured the high jump with a 5-6 leap.

Depth-wise the 1000 was the race of the day as Lowell’s Bryanna Allison defended her title in 2:53.32 to lead a whopping seven girls under the 3-minute barrier. Karina Shepard of Dracut was second in 2:54.57 and Stella Worters of Shepherd Hill took third in 2:57.22.

With Mary McConville of Hingham and Abby McNulty of Bishop Feehan both scratches in the 2 mile, Erin Dietz became the overwhelming favorite. She didn’t disappoint. The up-and-coming Bedford sophomore ran a tremendous 10:38.12 to easily defeat Lauren O’Neil of Falmouth (11:15.73) and Dennis-Yarmouth’s Jordan O’Dea (11:16.42).

No one would have blamed Chicopee Comprehensive’s Alex Niemiec if he didn’t exceed the performances he put up after winning long jump and high jump at the Div. 3 track championships last weekend.

Niemiec was more than up to the challenge, however, as he leaped to a meet record 23-5-1/4 to capture gold in the high jump by a foot at yesterday’s state championship meet at the Reggie Lewis Center. Kyle Darrow of Xaverian was second at 22-5-1/4 and Acton-Boxboro’s Brian Sommers leaped 22-2 for third.

“I wanted 24 (feet), but I’ll take 23-5 any week,” said Niemiec. “Everything felt good. My mark was a little bit off so I backed up a little bit and it was fine. My technique has improved since my freshman year. I watch videos and practice a lot. It’s an honor (to win) because there are a lot of good guys.”

Niemiec then went on to wage a fierce dual with Somerset-Berkley’s Adam Couitt to take second with a stellar effort of 6-8 to equal his personal best in the high jump. Couitt won with his 6-10 leap.

Niemiec missed on his three attempts at 6-10, but is confident the height is well within range. “I need to kick my legs harder,” he said. “If I kicked my legs harder I would have had it. I’d like to jump 7 feet outdoors.”

The top-two finishers in the 2 mile flip-flopped from last week as top-seeded Blake Croteau of Westfield finished second to St. John’s of Shrewsbury’s Jonathan Green. Croteau followed Green through a slowish 4:46 opening mile on the way to second in 9:24.96. The time was just off the personal best of 9:21.81 he ran in taking the state title race. Green, the Div. 1 state cross country champion, was victorious in 9:21.48.

“I wasn’t even going to run this meet. It was kind of a last-minute decision,” said Croteau. “This week was kind of for fun. I wasn’t going to race unless I ran hard. I think everyone could have run a little smarter. I wanted the race to go out fast. I was hoping for something under 4:40 (for the first mile). I’m going to run the 2 mile outdoors and fool around with some other distances.”

Sabrina Silva’s form was spot on in the shot put as she turned away a deep field with a personal best throw of 40-11-3/4 to win by a foot. The Mahar senior was well ahead of runner-up Michaela Smith of Newton North who took the silver medal with her 38-10 toss.