Twilight Girls Recap: Piccolo, Dietz Shine Under the Lights

With SATs in the morning and her junior prom the night before, Amy Piccolo was a little tired before lining up for her 800-meter race at the Weston Twilight Invitational Saturday night.

But it still didn’t stop her from doing what she does best – winning!

The junior from Ursuline Academy held back in the early stages of the race and with less than 200-meters remaining kicked into high gear en route to a first-place time of 2 minutes, 18.42 seconds. Piccolo defeated runner-up Olivia Manickas-Hill of Lexington, who was timed in 2:19.43 for the two-lapper.

“This is my first big 800 (of the season),” she said. “I was just trying to stay calm and stay with the people at first and then kick at the end.”

Piccolo took a patient approach to the race, passing the opening 400 in fourth place and with a relatively-controlled 68-second split.

“It was a little slow but I didn’t really mind because I still had a lap left,” she said. “I actually wasn’t going for any particular time. I was just going to try and stay with everyone and kick at the end because I actually didn’t stop training for this meet.”

The versatile Piccolo, a two-time indoor state titlist for the 600m, was second last year in the 400m at the MIAA All-State Meet where she ran her PR of 56.92. She’s looking to bump it up another lap this spring, concentrating her efforts on a strong 800.

In the winter, she was second at the New Balance National (NBN) Emerging Elite 800m where she ran her all-time best of 2:12.48.

“I felt really good (today) so I know I can get it back down to what I had in indoor,” she said. “I am probably going to look more at the 800, but I am probably going to be doing some 400s. I think I can get down to like a 2:10.”

The Dedham school also earned gold in the 400m with Ursuline senior Merissa Wright a convincing victor in a near-best of 58.97. Emma Beane, a sophomore from Hamilton-Wenham Regional, was second at 1:01.18. Westford senior Kate McCluskey was third in 1:01.28.

Even though she won by a substantial margin, Wright was trailing the front-runners for the first half of the race.

“I wasn’t up front but that was my strategy today,” she said. “Usually I go out too fast and die. But I went at a solid speed and just kind of cruised along the first 200 and kicked it until the end and felt really good.”

Wright, who was second to Piccolo in the 600m at the indoor states, utilized a different start technique, a three-point stance similar to what football players do. It appeared to work out fine, considering she ran just .13 from her best of 58.84 from the NBN a few months ago.

“I am really excited because I didn’t think I would win today,” she said. “I was really nervous because going in I was not even near my indoor time. Last week I ran the 400 and didn’t even break a minute so I like where I am in my training.”

Bedford junior Erin Dietz claimed the two-mile crown with a time of 10:52.84. Sydney Clary of Lincoln-Sudbury was second at 10:59.19.

Dietz ran a consistent pace and led for most of the race. She passed the opening mile in 5:27.

“I felt good. I wanted to start out at a strong, steady pace but I didn’t want to go too fast,” she said. “I wanted to see how I felt going through the mile and if I felt alright I would pick it up.”

Dietz, the indoor two-mile titlist in 2013, was bothered by a hip injury in December that forced her to miss the entire indoor season this year. She appears to be on the mend with no ill effects from the injury.

“I haven’t raced the two mile since last outdoor track season so I just wanted to try the two mile again,” she said. “I really had no idea what my time would be because I haven’t raced in a long time but I wanted to get my feet wet.”

It was a banner night for Abby Epplet. The Whitinsville-Christian senior was a double-winner, taking the hardware in the 400m hurdles (1:06.20) and the long jump (16 feet, 0.5 inches) and also placing third in the 100m hurdles (16.37).

“It was a super day for me,” she said. “I don’t know? I guess I just love running in the dark.”

The only “disappointment” for Epplet was she wasn’t able to compete against her good friend, Ursuline’s Piccolo, in the longer hurdle event. Her rival owns a best of 1:03.16.

“I was expecting (her) to be in the race. She won the 800 so she was done for the day,” Epplet said. “I was hoping that we could run together and push each other. It didn’t happen. It was a pretty good race. I was really focusing today on my form because that’s the biggest difference between girls that are really good and those that are at where I am.”

Hopkinton junior Lauren Hazzard won the mile with a PB of 5:03.92. Senior Maeve Greeley of Newton North, was second at 5:05.46, just .01 ahead of Hamilton-Wenham’s Emily Weigand, who was third.

For a good portion of the race, Hazzard occupied the back of the pack with junior teammate Shelby Aarden (sixth, 5:12.16). She surged to the front for good with 200-meters left.

“We knew the majority of runners were 800 or 1,000 (meter) girls and they would take it out fast so my teammate and I started out in the back and held our pace,” she said.

Hazzard was nearly three seconds under her previous best of 5:06.77, which she did to win the MSCTA Elite Meet on Jan. 26.

“I am looking to break five (minutes) in the mile,” she said. “That’s my main goal.” 

Cambridge Rindge and Latin junior Sydney Fisher broke the tape in the 200m with a 25.62 clocking. In her prelims, she coasted to a 25.64 effort.

Fisher feels her work during the indoor season, particularly with her starts in the 55m dash, has been a key to her progression.

“I was doing the 55 more than the 300 the majority of the season,” she said. “I feel in a way it helped me with getting out of the blocks faster and stronger. I am super excited. I finally get to do the race I really want to do.

Marshfield senior Kelsey Sullivan ran one of the fastest times nationwide in the 100m hurdles with a 15.48 clocking. Malden senior Anne Woolley was a distant second at 16.29.