New England Championship Boys Recap: Wynne, Couitt Defend Titles

BOSTON –Henry Wynne was confident he could defend his title in the 1,000-meter run at the 26th annual New England Indoor Track and Field Championship.

But the senior from Staples High in Connecticut had two other more important things on his mind for Saturday’s meet – a state and a New England record.

Wynne didn’t get both the records he wanted on the banked oval of the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center. The tall, slender runner did get the next best thing with an electrifying, nation-best clocking of 2 minutes, 25.55 seconds. That time broke the state mark by nearly two seconds and was just .41 off the meet and NE mark of 2:25.14 by former English MA great Said Ahmed in 2001.

“This was my last 1,000 of my high school career. I really wanted to set the pace,” Wynne said. “I really wanted to get the record. I was looking at the (2:28.30) I ran last year when the 1,000 really became my event. I really wanted one more chance (for the record). I wanted to take it out hard from the start. I knew I was going to be dying. I knew I was going to be hurting the last lap but if I got it it was all worth it.”

Wynne never left a doubt on the outcome. He was already a good 30-40 meters ahead of the chase pack after the first three laps and hit the 800 mark at 1:54.

“That was the plan,” he said. “The plan was really 1:55, 1:56. I took it out and felt good. I didn’t want to slow down.”

Next on the agenda for Wynne is a possible head-to-head meeting with St. Benedict Prep NJ standout Edward Cheserek in the mile at the New Balance Indoor Nationals next weekend. The Connecticut runner ran a season best of 4:11 in winning the Junior Mile at the New Balance Grand Prix last month.

“I am definitely confident,” he said. “I know there is a lot of great competition, especially if I have to face Edward Cheserek. He’s amazing. I am unsure of my potential in the mile. I am going in and just giving it my all.”

Cheserek, who recently broke a 49-year-old national record in the two mile with an 8:39.25 clocking, is currently entered in the mile at the NBIN. What’s Wynne’s strategy against the Oregon-bound runner?

“I just have to leave it all on the track,” he said. “He went 4:02 last year. I am not sure if I am at that level right now, too. But if he meets me halfway and it gets down to a kicker’s race, it will be close.”

Per usual, there were plenty of other notable performances in Saturday’s meet.

Senior Alex Niemiec of Chicopee Comprehensive MA set a meet and Massachusetts State record to take the long jump with a personal-best leap of 23 feet, 10 inches. Niemiec, who was also third in the high jump (6 feet, 7 inches), set his mark in the preliminaries.

He was a little surprised by the results.

“I didn’t think it was a good jump,” he admitted. “I thought it was a bad jump. I thought I was a little off. I didn’t get any height. But it’s a PR, so I’ll take it.”

North Kingstown RI junior Zachery Emrich set a Rhode Island State record, and ran the nation’s third best time in the 600 with a winning 1:20.58 clocking. Emrich, who won his first state title in the event just a few weeks ago, trailed in second until the bell lap when he overtook East Lyme CT senior and eventual second-place finisher Ben Ostrowski (1:21.35). Sophomore Joe Luongo of Austin Prep MA was third (1:21.50).

“My plan was to take the lead after the second lap because I figured (Ostrowski) would be tired and I would have more stamina,” Emrich said. “Words can’t describe how I feel right now.”

Last year’s winner Adam Couitt of Somerset MA defended his crown in the high jump by clearing a height of 6-9. Couitt held off a talented field that included runner-up Demario Gray of Bloomfield CT, who also finished at 6-9. Niemiec and Jack Kahrs of Scituate MA were third and fourth, respectively, at 6-7.

Couitt was hoping to hit a milestone with a seven-foot leap, but he wasn’t complaining about the win.

“I can’t be upset with it, especially I can’t be upset with this competition,” he said. “It wasn’t easy.”

The mile produced an exciting race with Farmington CT junior Matt Chisholm overtaking Chariho RI senior Bryce Kelley with a little more than 100 meters left en route to a winning time of 4:16.82. Kelley followed Chisholm across the line for second at 4:17.51.

Senior Carl Whitman of Newton South MA surprised the field in the shot put. Ranked No. 5 in the event, Whitman captured the individual title with a heave of 56-10. Placing second overall was St. John Prep MA junior Evan Dombrowski with a distance of 55-6.5.

No. 1 seed Eric Bolze, a senior from Hingham MA, moved up in the national rankings to ninth with his sizzling 34.69 effort in the 300. The fleet-footed sprinter was pushed to the limit by Newton North senior Ryan Lucken, who was second at 34.81 (Tied US# 12).

In the 55 dash, Hillhouse CT junior Harold Cooper outleaned sophomore Taj-Amir Torres of Amherst Regional MA at the finish to win with a time of 6.42 to Torres' 6.45. The 55 hurdles was captured by Newton South MA senior Jung Park. Park was timed in 7.40. Bloomfield CT junior Isaiah McEwen was second at 7.49. 

With a powerful kick the final 200 meters, Fairfield Prep CT junior Christian Alvarado won the two mile with a time of 9:14.24. Junior Dhahran Velasquez of Capital Prep CT was second at 9:17.59 and Swampscott MA senior Peter Hale was third in 9:22.74.

Sparked by two sub two-minute legs from Bill Lumbert and Grant Whitney, Hingham won the 4x800 with a time of 7:56.32 (US #18). Lumbert clocked 1:59 while Whitney finished off with a 1:57 for the Academics. Just a few meters behind in second place was Ridgefield CT, also under eight minutes at 7:57.79. Billerica MA was third with a time of 8:01.15.

The top seed in the 4x200 proved victorious with Acton-Boxboro MA claiming the prize with a time of 1:30.51 (US #22). Bishop Hendricken, seeded No. 8 entering the meet, claimed the runner-up spot with a time of 1:31.44.

The Bay State swept the top three positions in the 4x400 with Lincoln-Sudbury holding off Marshfield with a winning time of 3:24.49. Marshfield was second at 3:24.86 and Xaverian-Westwood took third at 3:25.09