Massachusetts NBNI Preview - Mid/Long Distance

Reggie shuts down for the Winter while MA's finest conclude their season this weekend at the New Balance National Indoor Championships at The Armory in New York City. All week, we will provide a thorough preview of the Massachusetts individuals/teams heading to New York to compete for All-American status and backpack-worthy performances to wrap up the indoor track season.

We wrap up our preview of the events today, as competition begins tomorrow, with the middle and long distance events:


Girls 800m Run (Championship) - Sunday, 3/10 at 10:10 am

It's hard to define a race as a "breakout race" when you're already at the top of your event in the state. But Tewksbury's Makayla Paige (1:29.71 600m; MA#1 & US#2) did just that at All-States. Setting a new state record, she won by almost three seconds over Wellesley's Abby Comella, at a distance that is too short to lose by a second. But Paige did just that and heads into the Championship section with a swagger looking to clinch a national championship. However, new American Record holder and USATF Indoor National Champion Athing Mu (NJ) has over six seconds over Paige and the field at 600m, so runner-up position is Paige's to lose. Nevertheless, the high caliber field should encourage a quick enough pace for her to drop under 2:10 (2:12.49 PB).


Boys Mile Run (Championship) - Sunday, 3/10 at 12:00 pm

Very few runners in the state are on a higher upswing than King Philip's Mike Griffin (4:14.72; MA#2). A 4:24.26 finish at the New Balance Games at the beginning of the season preceded a Division 2 title (4:24.31), an All-State title (4:16.63), and his runner-up finish this past weekend. Griffin will be utilizing this tremendous improvement this weekend in the Championship division. He'll be joined by Phillips Academy's Alex Fleury (4:15.57; MA#4), who earned his qualifier amongst collegiate competition at the John Thomas Terrier Invitational, and West Springfield's Gabriel Medina (4:16.93; MA#5), who was right behind Griffin at New Englands in another breakout performance. Prior to this season, Medina had never broken 4:30 in the mile; after breaking the barrier at the Coaches Invitational, he dropped significant time chasing Griffin at the Division 2 Championships (4:24.48) and All-States (4:17.97).


Girls Mile Run (Championship) - Sunday, 3/10 at 2:29 pm

A familiar MA showdown will take place at the Armory with potential national championship implications. New Englands Champion Lucy Jenks of Newton South (4:49.57; MA#1 & US#7) took advantage of rival Grace Connolly of Natick (4:51.78; MA#3 & US#11) opting out of New Englands for her to take the championship, breaking the meet record in progress. Connolly, though, will be back for the Championship Mile, with oodles of New Balance Indoor/Outdoor and Cross Country National Championship experience to not be faded. The Standford-bound senior will be trying to dethrone Jenks, although the junior has been hitting her stride over the past few meets. US#1 Katelyn Tuohy (NY) is entered but may opt out to focus on a national HS record attempt at the two mile, giving potential to this race being wide open. Hoping to dip further under 5:00 is Sarah Roffman of Littleton (4:57.73; MA#5) who had switched focus to the two mile for All-States (10:40.83) and New Englands (10:43.69) in two strong victories.


Boys Two Mile Run (Championship) - Sunday, 3/10 at 9:55 am

All eyes will be waking up early on Sunday to catch a rematch of the All-States two mile in the Championship section. What hoped to be a run at sub-9:00 between Burlington's Rishabh Prakash (9:15.56; MA#2 & US#10) and Arlington's Ryan Oosting (9:04.89; MA#1 & US#1) turned into a nation-leading barnburner from Oosting as Prakash battled a flu-like illness leading up to the race. With both opting out of New Englands, the two should be well-rested and healthy to give it another crack. Future Stanford Cardinal Oosting has an outdoor 8:53.46 best with 1:54.32 800m speed to keep that fast pace fast while Cornell-bound Prakash brings 1:25.95 600m speed and aims to join the elusive sub-9:00 club as well. The field will be rolling with talent, along with several athletes (like Oosting) doubling/tripling up on other individuals and team relays. With the two mile on the last day of NBNI, sub-9:00 may be ambitious; but Oosting's seven second lead on US#2 Sam Affolder of Loudoun Valley (VA) is not and he is the favorite to win Sunday morning.


Girls Two Mile Run (Championship) - Sunday, 3/10 at 9:40 am

With Katelyn Tuohy (NY) eyeing the two mile record, the race for second is on. With the mile later in the afternoon on Sunday, Natick's Connolly (10:18.73; MA#1 & US#2) is in a strong position to earn herself a podium finish. An eighth place finish at last fall's Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship, and a runner-up finish in the mile at last year's New Balance National Outdoor mile (4:49.34) shows that she is in rare form. Keep in mind, her state-leading time was run in a Bay State Conference dual meet. Being pushed by competitors may produce a low/sub 10:10 performance. Although she's a heavy MA favorite, she is not the lone MA runner in the field. Prior to the mile, Littleton's Roffman (10:40.83; MA#2 & US#6) will also be using the mile to wake up the legs for her Championship Sunday. Amherst-Pelham's Sophia Jacobs-Townsley (10:43.92; MA#4 & US#9) and Wellesley's Margaret Donahue (10:46.94; MA#5 & US#10) will be toeing the line to also break personal bests. The majority of the field is in the mid 10:30s but they certainly will not grow complacent in simply searching for the podium.


Boys 5,000m Run (Championship) - Friday, 3/8 at 3:30 pm

While Oosting opens up his Nationals weekend with his relay teams, Prakash will hit the track solo for a 5,000m attempt. His US#10 at two miles was noticeably run in January at a Middlesex League meet. Although it was run at speedy BU, the will to solo the effort is incredibly commendable. It's difficult to compare, but he does post a 15:06.41 cross country 5k best from the Bob McIntyre Twilight Invitational this past fall. While opening his cross country season in a 16:09.5, it should be expected that he will be ready to compete despite his indoor competition ranging in events from 600m to two miles. Perhaps that range may be an advantage tomorrow afternoon.


Girls 5,000m Run (Championship) - Friday, 3/8 at 3:05 pm

Similar to Prakash, Jacobs-Townsley will open her NBNI weekend with the Championship 5,000m as well. A fourth place finish at the All-State Championships this past fall doesn't downplay her experience at the distance. It also isn't her first appearance: last year she raced at NBNI and NBNO at 5,000m, running a personal best of 17:18.15 to finish ninth this past spring. Her goal will be to podium tomorrow while Mohawk Trail's Meghan Davis (11:02.36 Two Mile PB) will be along for a long ride.


Boys 800m Run (Emerging Elite) - Friday, 3/8 at 7:10 pm

Showing noticeable improvement this year, and looking to finish the season on a high note, is Walpole's Shane Grant (2:31.85; MA#7). With a Division 3 Championship, a third place All-States finish and All-New England honors, Grant demonstrated significant gains that will likely be rewarded with a new 800m PR under last spring's outdoor time (2:00.76). Following closely behind Grant is Wakefield's Tanner Jellison (2:32.66; MA#10), who uses the sprinter's approach towards his 800m training. A quicker 400m (55.89) and 600m (1:27.12) than Grant, Jellison has a slower indoor 800m PB (2:01.19) but a quicker outdoor 800m best (1:58.13). Anticipate both runners to run comfortably under 2:00 on Friday night.


Girls 800m Run (Emerging Elite) - Friday, 3/8 at 6:55 pm

A pair of sub-3:00 1,000m MA girls will toe the line for four laps on Friday. The Bromfield School's Tessa McClain (2:56.81; MA#5) rides her Division 5 Championship into the Armory, although she will need to shake off a slower New England Indoor Championships to be ready for the field. Joining her, and looking to gather an edge, is Shepherd Hill's Emma Sullivan (2:58.22; MA#9). Though Sullivan missed out on New Englands, she brings a 2:16.26 800m indoor best (2:11.89 outdoor) along with a 1:00.32 400m PB. Her speed, and proven experience at the distance, may give her the lead at the bell lap against McClain.


Boys Mile Run (Emerging Elite) - Saturday, 3/9 at 3:20 pm

Despite just missing out on qualifying for the New England Indoor Championships, Xaverian Brothers' Jack Mariano (4:18.45; MA#7) had been rewarded with his season's best qualifying him for the NBNI Emerging Elite Mile. The Division 1 Champion dropped eight seconds on his previous season's best to help him earn the crown earlier in February but he will face the same runner he beat to win Division 1, Franklin's Tyler Brogan (4:20.30; MA#10). Brogan has a 4:17.34 outdoor best and will be making a return trip to NBNI to improve on his 4:22.06 run last year.


Girls Mile Run (Emerging Elite) - Saturday, 3/9 at 3:05 pm

Both Connollys will be represented in the mile field as Natick's Kate Connolly (5:01.78; MA#10) leads a group of Hopkinton's Schuyler Gooley (5:01.26; MA#7) and Walpole's Caroline McGrath (5:02.89; MA#12) all on a journey to break five minutes. Although Gooley is the closest, Connolly has a sub-3:00 1,000m to her name while McGrath has broken 1:40 in the 600m to show off her mid-distance speed. If it comes down to a kick, trust her speed. Otherwise, it should be a toss-up.


Boys Two Mile Run (Emerging Elite) - Friday, 3/8 at 11:15 am

A phenomenal late season surge by Newburyport's Sam Acquaviva (9:26.90; MA#4) placed him into position to race tomorrow. A comfortable win at the Cape Ann Championships was followed by a full 30 second improvement to finish runner-up to Prakash at the Division 4 Championships. Similarly, a divided field at All-States still had him earn bronze with a respectful 9:28.47. All of his marbles will be in this race to better his HS best while King Phillip's Griffin (9:41.74) will open up his weekend with the two mile early Friday. Fortunately, he should be well-rested for the mile on Sunday.


Girls Two Mile Run (Emerging Elite) - Friday, 3/8 at 10:40 am

Both Hopkinton's Olivia Jones (11:04.67; MA#11) and Shepherd Hill's Rebekah James (10:54.17; MA#7) will open up their team's relays this weekend with a two mile race early Friday. Joined by Pope Francis's Emily Boutin (10:56.04; MA#8) and Algonuin's Tess Reyes (11:02.31; MA#10), the quest for Jones and Reyes to break 11:00 will be formidably appropriate with a field entirely capable of it. MA bragging rights, though, should be a close battle with Boutin and James.


Boys Mile Run (Freshman) - Sunday, 3/10 at 9:20 am

The future of Acton-Boxborough is bright as Caleb Straayer (4:40.40; MA#1 Freshman) will represent the Colonials in the freshman mile. Straayer has fair 1:29.88 600m and 2:42.82 1,000m speed that should help him break 4:40 on Sunday morning.


Girls Mile Run (Freshman) - Sunday, 3/10 at 9:00 am

Middlesex League Champion Tysall Charlotte of Melrose (5:18.88; MA#3 Freshman) will compete with the best freshmen in the country for the freshman mile title. Her breakout performance to win the Middlesex League Mile was a personal best improvement of six seconds from her previous best time. Her last performance was a fifth place finish in the same event at the Division 4 Championships.