2018 Boston Holiday Challenge - Recap

Some teams took advantage of the Holiday Break to get in qualify performances against the best on the Northeast indoor circuit, with teams from across the New England and New York region gathering in Roxbury to compete in the Boston Holiday Challenge. The Friday meet was the first of two weekend meets held by the MSTCA, with Saturday's Distance Classic rivaling last week's Speed Classic, now bringing the focus to the endurance and distance disciplines.

Throws

The inclusion of both Rhode Island and New York schools at the Holiday Challenge encouraged the MSTCA to offer their state-endorsed indoor throws event: the weight throw. A smaller indoor hammer throw equivalent, Massachusetts athletes still performed well despite the learning curve. North Attleboro's Julia Mechlinski (41'-6.5") and Peabody's Courtney Kline (36'-1.5") threw the farthest and third farthest weights in the state this season to finish second and third. The MA pair were only beat by Alliya Boothe (47'-6") of Bloomfield (CT) and her US#13 heave. The same could not be replicated on the boys side with Nino Seidou-Bakari (58'-3") of Colonie (NY), Kyle Gregor (54'-2.5") of Shenendehowa (NY) and Aaron Williams (50'-8.5") of Bloomfield (CT) using their experience to sweep the event.

Dominance in the throws returned to the Bay State in the shot put with Seekonk's All-State and New England Champion Cameron Garabian (40'-1.5") clearing Brockton's Julieth Nwosu (38'-10.75") by two feet while Dennis-Yarmouth's Tiana Bazie (37'-10") rounded out the podium. Both Garabian and Nwosu remain at MA#1 and MA#2 while Bazie settles into a MA#5 position with her season's best performance.

But, as has been the story of the state this winter, Innovation Academy's Aiden Felty continues to rewrite history. With two of his throws topping Dominic Filiano (61'-1.5") of Lebanon's (NH) 2009 meet record, the Duke-bound senior unleashed an improvement on his US#1, launching a 67-foot even throw. Not only did he beat Lowell's runner-up Ben Kyeremeh (51'-3" - MA#2) by nearly 14 feet, but he now extends his lead over Jason Montano of Thornton Academy (ME) by five feet and nine inches, as the best indoor thrower in the country. Bloomfield's (CT) Williams (50'-10") coupled his bronze in the weight with another in the shot put, putting together a solid afternoon over the Winter Break.

 

Sprints

The top three girls in the 55m dash placed the same from the preliminaries to the finals, with Bloomfield's (CT) Terry Miller (7.14) winning the event in a meet record time, breaking Hopkinton's Jessica Scott's 7.19 record from 2013. Schalmont (NY) earned a runner-up finish from junior Mia D'Ambrosio (7.26) while North Attleboro's Lily Wetherbee (7.41) earned a MA#4 season's best performance to finish in third place. For the Bay State Boys, it was a lot of the same with Shepherd Hill's Bryan Santos continuing his record-breaking indoor season. The Rams junior broke Phito Gondre of New Bedford's 2010 meet record time (6.46) in both the preliminaries and the finals; running away with the event in a MA#1 and US#2 time of 6.39. The New Balance Outdoor Nationals All-American led the way for Lowell's Richmond Kwaateng (6.58) and Shrewsbury's Joseph O'Brien (6.60) to a 1-2-3 MA finish, while O'Brien moved up on the 2018-19 MA 55m List, placing himself as seventh fastest in the state.

Schalmont's (NY) D'Ambrosio came back from her 55m dash runner-up to claim the Boston Holiday Challenge 300m dash title, running 41.19. Just slightly behind D'Ambrosio, in the same heat, was Bloomfield's (CT) Jillian Mars (41.64) and Peabody's sophomore Jolene Murphy (41.82), earning second and third respectively. Murphy continues her successful season in moving into the MA#7 position amongst the longer sprinters. Shrewbury's O'Brien (35.14) came back to win the boys 300m dash in a new MA#1 and US#14, moving ahead of Woburn's Marcus Qualls in both the 55m and 300m dashes. O'Brien led Murdock's Richard Swanson (35.87), from a separate heat, towards besting the 2012 meet record (35.93) set by Matt Taylor of Bishop Feehan as Swanson moved up to MA#3 himself. Bloomfield (CT) continued their sprint dominance with junior Kymali Hay's (35.97) third place finish.

 

Hurdles

Brockton's Jordan Williams (7.61) maintains his spot atop the MA Hurdles List, matching his MA#1 from the MSTCA Team Pentathlon, in winning the 55m hurdles. Spaulding's (NH) Adrian Sutton (7.76) moved up from his third place spot in the preliminaries to grab runner-up honors in the event while Lowell's Samuel Mutiso (7.83) used a season's best to grab a MA#6 time over a strong finals field, to reach the final top three podium positions. In the girls hurdles, Franklin's Danielle Pierre (8.78) overcame a slow preliminaries start to win the finals and move up into MA#T3. Pierre tied Plymouth South's Ella Grey's time run in the Patriot League earlier this week, while Grey (8.88) continues her strength as a sophomore in placing second in front of Silver Lake's Alison McDonough (8.97).

 

Mid-Distance

Murdock's Swanson (1:21.72) might have just missed the meet record but his successful 300-600 double was rewarded with a MA#1 and US#2 in the later event. His narrow victory over St. Joseph by the Sea's (NY) Nick Masters (1:22.28) broke up a New York sweep as Shenendehow's (NY) Odin Schaepkins (1:23.85) grabbed the bronze medal in the event, winning out of the second fastest heat. The star power in the mid-distance sprint continued with Portsmouth (RI) state champion Nikki Merrill (1:34.22). Merrill almost bested her meet record set last year, as she destroyed the field by almost six second in a US#4 1:34.81. Franklin's Julia Fenerty (1:40.28) did her best to close the gap in a MA#5 time as she edged out Bloomfield's (CT) Jillian Mars (1:41.46) in the fastest section.

The smallest New England state continued their mid-distance speed in the 1,000m run. Chariho (RI) senior Tim Champlin (2:34.01) out-leaned North Kingstown's (RI) Jack Perrault (2:34.72) to place 1-2 while Antonio Beltran (2:36.70) of Schalmont (NY) rounded out the top three. Meanwhile, another meet record fell in the girls section as junior Caroline Fischer (2:56.09) of Bishop Guertin (NH) bested Olive Allen (2:57.94) of Portsmouth (RI). Fischer's time broke former teammate and recent Boston College graduate Molly McCabe's 2012 mark of 2:57.22. Shenendehowa's (NY) Hannah Belleville (3:01.29) just missed the 3:00 barrier while capping the top three 1,000m finishers.

 

Distance

Two mile races were offered for competitors today as a varsity heat and freshmen heat helped give underclassmen an opportunity to thrive against their classmates. For the female trackletes, the varsity runners were left chasing Elizabeth Sullivan of Portsmouth (RI), who ran an impressive 5:01.38 to escape Lauren Grela (5:05.92) of Ursuline Academy. The two separated themselves from the pack to post state-respective bests: Sullivan now ranks RI#1 and Grela moves up to MA#2. Shenendehowa's (NY) Jade Dennis (5:17.12) beat out her sister Jada (5:22.23) to finish third in the event. New York brought the up-and-coming younger talent as Shaker's (NY) seventh grader Leonni Griffin (5:24.72) wowed the fans with a US#1 amongst her grade in winning the freshmen mile over a tight finish between Shenendehowa's (NY) Luccabella Hotaling (5:36.24) and Framingham's Abigail DeVeau (5:36.37).

The boys mile race was a thorough New England representation with David DelBonis (4:23.04) of Bishop Hendricken (RI), Tyler Brogan (4:25.53) of Franklin and Joseph Curran (4:25.74) of Nashua North (NH) coming down to the wire. The race brought DelBonis a RI#4, Brogan a MA#4 and Curran a NH#2 result, as both Rhode Island and New Hampshire opt to run the metric 1,500m, instead of the mile, during the winter track season. DelBonis's teammate, Evan McGregor (4:57.60), earned another medal for Hendricken, finishing in third in the freshmen mile. Hendricken rivals, Chariho, got the last laugh with Joseph Golas (4:51.28) winning the freshman mile crown in a narrow win over Shenendehowa's (NY) Nathan Brimhall (4:51.47).

Despite the weight throw, the Bay State found a way to take advantage of their own uniquely-run event. While states may run the indoor 3,000m or 3,200m, Massachusetts is one of a few states that runs the full two miles. Certainly enough, it brought a full sweep in both races. In a Massachusetts and United States #2 time, Sarah Roffman of Littleton ran away from the field to break 11:00, running 10:53.48. Shepherd Hill's Rebekah James (11:07.3) and Algonquin's Tess Reyes (11:10.83) earned themselves US#4 and US#6 finishes as well. But right behind Reyes, in fourth place, may be the near-future for high school distance runners, in Shaker's (NY) eighth-grader Kaleigh Higgins. Her 11:14.07 finish places her at US#9; but her national eighth grade class is more than a minute behind her on the season.

An impressive double by Franklin's Tyler Brogan demonstrated his early season endurance as he took his second place mile finish and repeated it in the two mile race. Brogan (9:42.58) missed out on a hard finishing kick to Seekonk's stud sophomore Andrew Cabral (9:42.41). The close finish pushed the two competitors to season bests while earning them MA#3/US#8 and MA#4/US#9 rankings respectively. Anders Narita (9:51.03) of Wachusett wrapped up the 1-2-3 MA sweep in a MA#7/US#13 time.


Jumps

A battle of powers produced an upset in the jumps, with Lowell's defending All-State runner-up David Ajama (6'-7") losing out to North Attleboro's Owen Nassaney (6'-7"), having achieved the same height on less attempts. Nassaney now joins Ajama at the top of the state with reaching that height. Medfield's John McNeil (6'-5") just missed out on joining the pair in a final jump-off to determine the podium. Stephanie Simon (5'-3") of Chelsea, however, wrapped up the event early and pushed to see how far she could jump while Peadbody's Alexa Flewelling and Dennis-Yarmouth's Emily Edwards both reached 4'-11" on the fewest attempts to tie for second.

North Attleboro's Wetherbee (18'-3.75") scored her second medal of the day in winning the long jump over Chelsea's Simon (17'-7.5"); the pair posted the second and third farthest jumps this year in the state of Massachusetts. Murdock's sophomore Alexia Allard (16'-9.75") had a slightly off day but still finished with the third best jump in competition. Meanwhile, Lowell's Kwaateng (22'-0.5") effectively used his 55m dash runner-up warm-up to help him clear the meet record, set by Saugus's Olisa Obeifana (21'-11") in 2011.  Kwaateng moves into MA#3 while runner-up Ahmik Watterson (21'-9.5") moved up right behind him in MA#4 to earn silver. Bloomfield's (CT) Sean Dixon-Bodie (21'-6.5") grabbed another out-of-state medal in Boston, finishing in third.


Relays

A DNF by the Bloomfield (CT) A team may have cost the school a girls 4x200 meter relay title; nevertheless, their B squad from Heat 2 still managed to grab a second place finish running 1:51.51. Notre-Dame Academy-Hingham (1:51.66) were displaced by the B team, having to settle for third, but it was North Attleboro (1:48.38), whose MA#2 time earned the Rocketeers the Boston Holiday Challenge title. Shenendehowa (NY) continued a successful trip to Boston in winning the boys 4x200 race in a dead-lock with Cambridge Rindge & Latin. The two squads ran exact times of 1:32.42, with each teams winning their respective heats. Heading down to the thousandths gave the New York high school the win, while Brockton (1:32.55) squeezed in for third. Latin and Brockton came out of Reggie with MA#1 and MA#2 times on the year.

Boston Latin (9:42.89) continued its middle-distance dominance displayed during the Winter Festival and last week's Speed Classic, running a phenomenal six second meet record, bettering King Phillip's 2014 girls 4x800m relay 9:42.89. Littleton (9:46.11) gave Latin chase, while Shenendehowa (NY) (10:08.28) exhibited another noteworthy finish to bring home more hardware. But Boston Latin now moves into MA#1/US#4 with Littleton following suit in MA#2/US#11, promising a long season into the March championships for the two programs. On the boys side, the Hawks of Bishop Hendricken (RI), on the heels of a Nike Cross Country Nationals appearance just month, ran against the clock to win the 4x800m title in a meet record and US#6 time of 8:06.95. Shenendehowa (8:24.80) outlasted Lowell's (8:26.72) MA#3 showing to round out the mid-distance relay podium.

The final relay on the day featured the unofficial top teams at the meet, with the Bloomfield (CT) girls (4:06.75) pushing Shenendehowa (NY) (4:09.81) to the limit, but outlasting the New York powerhouse. Wachusett (4:13.43) crossed the line third to move up to MA#5 on the year. For the boys, the top two teams managed to run under Newton North's 3:29.76 meet record, set two years ago. But it was Bloomfield (CT) (3:26.67) that ended up bringing both 4x400m Holiday Challenge titles back to the Nutmeg State, keeping St. Joseph by the Sea (NY) (3:29.43) at bay in second. Amherst-Pelham (3:32.05) managed to keep a bronze medal to match their MA#3 performance.


Pentathlon

With wins in the long jump (18'-5"), high jump (5'-3.75") and a runner-up in the shot put (30'-9.25"), Sharon's Jada Johnson cleared the field to win the pentathlon (3288 points), besting Chicopee's Jess Ribiero's 2015 meet record of 3053 points. In fact, Johnson's performance was so dominant, her long jump and high jump results would have won the varsity sections in the meet. Westborough's Grace Desmond (2986 points) used wins in the 800m run (2:31.18) and the 55m hurdles (8.92) to finish in second place while Martha's Vineyard's Mackenzie Condon (2956 points) had second place finishes in the 800m (2:35.10), the 55m hurdles (8.99) and the high jump (4'-11.75") in losing out on a close race for second, settling for third.

Junior Isaiah Stessman (3069 points) completed the Sharon pentathlon sweep by edging out Somerville's Jackson Anderson (2989 points) and Murdock's Adam Digman (2904 points). Stessman's wins in the high jump (5'-9.75") and long jump (19'-2.5") led the way while Anderson's hurdles performance (8.17) and shot put runner-up (33'-8.5") moved him into silver. Digman bested the field in the shot put (39'-7.75") to earn Murdock another medal at the Holiday Challenge.


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