With dual meets underway, the first MSTCA invitational concluded this past weekend as thousands of athletes packed the Reggie Lewis Center to compete in the Winter Festival on Saturday and Sunday. The non-team scoring meet was nothing short of spectacular with nation-leading performances taking shape early in the winter track season. We'll start with the small school section competing this past Sunday.
The meet was hardly underway when fireworks began launching in the shot put cage. By the first flight's third set of throws, not only did the meet have a winner, but a new Massachusetts state record and nation-leading heave. Innovation Academy's senior Aiden Felty threw 59 and 61 foot tosses, culminating in a massive personal best on his final throw. With a crowd forming and encouraging his potential, Felty heaved his final throw that landed feet away from the final line in the cage, rolling all the way to the wall. When measured, it was confirmed that Felty's new personal best was a state record: 64 feet and 5 inches, breaking Jeff Chakouian of Seekonk's 63'-11" throw set back at the 2000 MIAA All-State Meet. Chakouian went on to throw collegiately at the University of Kentucky to the tune of a six-time All-American career. He now coaches at Baylor University.
Felty's no stranger to elite company; the Tyngsborough-native has competed at the New Balance Nationals competition for both indoor and outdoor track last year, earning an eighth place best finish in the discus last spring. But his rotational speed for the discus has translated strongly into the indoor shot. His Sunday heave currently sits him as a US#1 in the shot put, over four feet ahead of US#2's Jason Montano of Thornton Academy (ME) (61'-3"). Felty won the shot put at the Winter Festival by almost 19 feet over second place Simon Vinci of Bishop Fenwick (44'-11.25") and third place's Matthew Silveira of Seekonk (44'-4").
But Felty wasn't the only thrower making the national rankings this past Sunday. And in fact, a fellow Warrior broke onto the list, making Chakouian proud. Seekonk's Cameron Garabian, the defending New England Indoor Shot Put champion and NBIN All-American, wasted no time getting her season rolling, throwing a 41'-8" toss to comfortably win over second place's Isabella Bergloff of Holliston (34'-9.5"). Garabian's teammate Ashleigh Wyrostek (34'-4.5) wasn't too far back in third as Garabian's throw propelled her to US#4 on the young season. The Seekonk senior still has plenty of time to move back up to her 44 foot best, as there will be great things to see from her this season.
The long jump pits were busy on Sunday filing through a collective 100+ athletes landing as far in the sand possible. With the sand settling, Catholic Memorial's Brian Stubbs took the title, jumping 20 feet even to outdistance North Middlesex's Carson Doody (19'-9.5") and Marlborough's Brandon Patanao (19'-9.5"). On the girls' side, Auburn's Obiamaka Igwenagu (16'-3") cracked into the top-15 in the state, reaching a MA#13 to outjump Murdock's Alexia Allard (16'-2.5"), whose MA#14 performance found the pair going 1-2 in competition. Martha's Vineyard's Mackenzie Condon (16'-1.5") was the only other performer to break 16 feet in the long jump on Sunday.
Ryan Silbor of Uxbridge (6'-2") won out the high jump, on attempts, against Innovation Academy's Xavier MacShane, as the pair joined the list of eight indoor athletes reaching the MA#5 mark on the season. Quabbin's Ben Sacramone and The Bromfield School's Will Squire tied on attempts at 6'-0" to round out the top three podium. Sacramone's teammate, Sam Schoenberg, did manage to win the girls high jump, clearing 5'-2" over Wilmington's Hannah LaVita (5'0"). LaVita beat out a three-way tie for third on attempts, as Mahar Regional's Kamyrn Rielly, Murdock's Paige Demanche, and East Longmeadow's Madison McMahon had to settle on attempts for third.
The first preliminary/final event of the day went off without a hitch as Corey Stalters of Norton (8.19), Ian Welch of Westborough (8.34) and Nicholas Woolsey of North Middlesex (8.35) grabbed the top three seeds heading into the 16-man final. In the final, though, it was Stalters's teammate Paul Wisnaskas (8.14) who leaped the pair to capitalize Norton's 1-2 finish as Stalters won in 8.12 seconds. The pairs' marks left them at MA#12 and MA#13 respectively, while Murdock's Adam Digman (8.19) grabbed a MA#20 time to grab the third place position. Where it stands now, Wisnaskas's 8.14 sits as the US#8 time in the 55m hurdles among the sophomore class.
Defending New England Indoor hurdle champion Ava Vasile of Medway faced little trouble, grabbing the top spot in her heat and qualifying for the final with ease. Though still getting warmed up this season, Vasile comfortably won the finals clocking the only sub-9.00 time in the field, running to a MA#2 8.84, outpacing Marlborough's Sheila Sossavi (9.02) and Pentucket's Madi Krohto (9.13), who could not match her preliminary run of 8.99.
The boys' short sprints saw a brush of youth emerge into the top three, as Marlborough's Felipe Gonzales (6.82) edged out Uxbridge's CJ Speight (6.84) while Catholic Memorial sophomore Darrius Leclair was outleaned with a matching 6.84. Senior strength took the girls 55m dash as the top four finishers are all running their last indoor season in Massachusetts. Oakmont's Alyssa Madden took the crown matching her 7.38 from the preliminaries in the finals. The New England 300m champion last year, Madden's time in Sunday's 55m dash earned her a solid position as the MA#3 in the short dash while she beat out Northampton's Emma Harder (7.53) and Douglas's Maureen Grady (7.61).
Old Rochester's Anthony Childs ran a personal best in the first heat of the 300m to take the race and a MA#10 as he becomes an athlete to watch this season, bursting out with a 37.13. Athol's Mason Barrieau (37.71) and Nashoba's Ethan Sarafin (37.81) rounded out the top three, making the first heat the fastest heat of the afternoon. The all-senior boys finish was significantly different on the girls side as the top five were underclassmen with sophomore Syeira Campbell of Pentucket winning the event. Her 43.04 placed her in seventh place on the season in Massachusetts, while Holliston's freshman Mia Luisi (43.56) finds herself as the US#24 among freshmen girls this season, as she finished third behind Advanced Math and Science Academy's Jules Hogan (43.34).
Murdock HS has done something special with the longer sprints/mid-distance events as they managed to sweep both the boys and girls 600m races. For the boys, Richard Swanson dominated the race from start to finish, clocking in a MA#4 and US#18 1:24.53. The senior Blue Devil and All-New England runner beat the Northampton pair of Ethan Cooper (1:24.90) and Eben Saveson (1:27.26) as Cooper closed hard over the last lap to give Swanson some competition heading into the tape. But Swanson's freshman teammate, Lilly Digman, has been writing her own story even as a freshman. Having competed for Murdock for the past two years as a middle school student, Digman won the Division 5 Championship last year with a 1:37.00. Heading in the same direction, her 1:39.90 win slides into a MA#1, US#20 and US#1 amongst all freshmen. Her development will be one to watch this year as her outpacing Claire Stoddard of Bromfield School (1:43.42) and Andrea St. Jean of Grafton (1:43.70) showed pure dominance in a short race that questions how quick she can reach when meeting faster competition.
Familiar names took back their winning ways in the boys 1,000m as Northampton's All-State runner in Benjamin Gordon-Sniffen opened up his season with a comfortable MA#2 2:37.05. Gordon-Sniffen led teammate Simon LeClair (2:40.76) while Saint Peter Marian's Ricardo Reyes needed a personal best in his 2:40.47 to claim second. A MA#3 and MA#5 was produced in the girls race, with The Bromfield School's Tessa McClain (3:04.74) breaking the tape and Nashoba's Alexandra Bettez (3:09.88) leading the chase pack behind her. Auburn's Ally Anusauskas (3:11.43) ran a personal best to kick off her senior year for a bronze medal finish.
The top three boys milers got their legs rolling after busy cross country seasons, running a controlled, even-split race to get the indoor season started. Newburyport's Division 2 All-State Cross Country champion Sam Acquaviva led the way running a nearly even-paced race to break the tape in the early season MA#2 time, 4:32.77. Bishop Fenwick's Aiden Hill was not too far behind in 4:35.15 (MA#6) with Westwood's Zach Conant running 4:35.33 (MA#7) to finish right behind Hill. Zach's sister, Sarah, followed his lead in the girls mile, escaping Northampton's Mary Yount (5:17.86) late in the race to capture a MA#2 in 5:14.01. Norton's sophomore Isabella Pietrasiewicz won out over the chase pack, to earn a MA#10 in 5:20.75.
Burlington's Rishabh Prakash opted not to race the Winter Festival, leaving the two mile run open for the taking. And Seekonk's Andrew Cabral seized the opportunity, as the sophomore ran away with an early season personal best, leading a group of four athletes under 10 minutes. His 9:53.60 moved him up to a MA#3 and US#11 while Colin Black of Hopedale (9:55.12) and Collin McGlynn of Medway (9:55.86) moved up to fifth and seventh in the state, respectively. Cabral's teammate, Abigail Tenreiro (11:44.31), was the sole runner to break 12:00 while Narragansett's freshman Kylie Marion (12:13.82) and Douglas's Keely Mungeam (12:19.44) used the race to break out into the winter scene in a strategic race at the state level.
For some teams, the Winter Festival was the first opportunity for teams to put down a relay time, other than the 4x400m. And many took full advantage. Stalters and Wisnaskas of Norton came back from the hurdles to finish up work on the boys 4x200m relay team. The Lancer team grabbed a slight lead overall by winning the first heat in 1:38.51 (MA#21). Pope Francis HS came the closest out of the second heat, running a time in the 1:37s. However, official results disqualified Pope Francis for interfering with Oakmont on the exchanges, allowing Norton to secure the Winterfest relay, followed closely by Marlborough (1:38.74) and Blackstone-Millville (1:38.95). On the girls side, perennial powers Newburyport and Pentucket duked it out against the clock in separate heats. But it was Newburyport that took the win in a MA#9 1:52.05 with Pentucket sliding in a MA#10 1:52.20. The strength of Pentucket's relays will be monitored, especially heading into the state championship season in February.
The first opportunity for the 4x800m relay came through this weekend as Massachusetts school don't contest the race at the league level. Nevertheless, early season favorites, based on last year's middle distance talent, were on full display with Northampton's 8:29.45 pulling out the fastest time of the weekend with Wilmington running an 8:38.42 to also grab their state-qualifier early. Westborough's 8:40.54 filled out the podium with all three teams running away from the competition in the first heat following the first exchange. Northampton made it a clean sweep in the girls' race as well, pulling five seconds ahead of Sutton's runner-up 10:24.01, as their 10:19.09 places them at MA#3 following the first weekend of the event. Holliston followed Sutton, crossing the line at 10:30.06, with all three teams running under their respective divisional state qualifying standards.
The long day concluded with the traditional 4x400m relay and a big win by the Murdock HS boys squad. The Blue Devils cleared the runner-up team (Westborough - 3:48.53) by over ten seconds; a huge gap in the 4x400m relay. Their 3:38.08 split came in at a MA#10; expect the Blue Devils to drop even further when not racing solely against the clock. Advanced Math and Science Academy wrapped the meet up, as the girls team edged out Ashland by close margins: 4:25.92 to 4:25.95 respectively. The Blue Devil Ladies grabbed the third place position, crossing the line in 4:26.07.