100m – Brett Buskey of Blackstone-Millville is the top seed at 10.94 and the only athlete in the field to post a sub 11 second fully automatic time this season. In addition, he is the 2011 indoor champion at 55m (6.51) and was third last year at the outdoor championships. His resume makes him the favorite, but John Ojukwu, Tim Gibson, Phito Gondre, Keith Hamel and a host of others in the low 11 second range will make getting to the finals difficult. Ojukwu is just a sophomore and the future of Massachusetts sprinting may be on display this weekend.
200m - Trent George of Mahar is the #1 seed with the fastest fully automatic time this season (22.00). He blew away a very talented field at the Western Division Championships but this weekend will not be as easy. Ian Peuser and Donovan Henry have been winning events fairly easily this year; except when they race each other. Henry edged Peuser at the MSTCA Invitational, but one race does not predict the future.
Henry, Peuser, and George should occupy the center of the track in the finals, but Pat Farnham is the only athlete on the list with a fully automatic sub 11 second 100m time. Farnham is seeded 4th at 22.33 and is followed by Tchuijo Nkamebo (22.45), Xavier Collins (22.45), and Matt Taylor (22.47).
400m – Isaiah Penn is incredibly competitive and extremely poised in large meets. He sits atop the seed list after fighting off a very talented field at the Division 1 Championships. Penn won the event in 48.77 and was followed by Nathan Pierre Louis (49.52), Andre Rolim (49.71), and Brian Sommers (49.73).
But Mansfield follows a simple concept……training fast equals racing fast. They accomplish this by putting together a training group of two athletes that run sub 50 seconds and a host of others that run just over 50 seconds. The end results was a 1-2 finish at the Division 2 Championships, with Nick King winning the event (48.93) and Griffin Robertson finishing second (49.40).
But the depth of the field does not stop there. Eleven other athletes, including Trent George, Matt Jessup, and Bo Lewis are all hovering around the 50 second barrier. Making the finals will be an accomplishment. Making the podium may define a season.
800m - The story of this race will be told at the gun. Will the pack concede to Josh Lampron and let him control the race, or will Acton-Boxborough use their numbers to cause separation in the pack? Lampron is the top seed at 1:54.61, but seven other athletes have run under 1:57. If the pack can hold off Lampron’s move in the final back stretch this race can be broken wide open.
Sean Gorham was closing on Lampron last week in the final 200m of the Division 2 race (video), and Billy Looney, Curt Owen, Tim Cox, Nick Capezzuto, and Jon Horstman all have the speed to do the same if they maintain contact after 600m. But don’t forget, Lampron split 1:52 in the 4x800m last week and asking the pack to remain in contact that late in the race may be a tall order.
Mile – This is another stacked event with no clear favorite. Ezra Lichtman leads the field at 4:18.18 but the seed times may be deceiving because many of the other contenders only ran fast enough to qualify at their divisional meets. Mike Giardina traded moves with Lichtman at the Division 1 Championships and was rewarded with a fast time (4:19.43) and the #2 seed. But Dan Zawalich, Wes Gallagher, Brendan Adams, Dana Dourdeville, and Joel Hubbard are all planning to take a shot at the win.
2 Mile – Shayne Collins demonstrated his strength earlier in the season by posting a 14:39.83 5k at the New Balance Twilight meet. He backed that up with a 9:08.79 2 mile last week to win the Division 2 Championship after a strong move at the mile mark. In that race, Chris Allen of King Philip went for broke and hung-on to Collins until the final two laps; finishing in 9:18.21 and earning the #3 seed (race Video).
Stephen Sollowin of Weymouth also ran 9:18 last week to win the Division 1 Championship, and the addition of David Melly, Simon Voorhees, and Cherney Sisay should help the pack deal with the gap eventually caused by Collins and John Murray.
Murray took the conservative route last week and qualified in 9:27.60. But ran a 8:27.00 for 3,000m at the Penn Relays. There is no doubt that he will push the pace with Collins, but their two styles are very similar and it will be interesting to see when each athlete makes his move and how the pack responds. One thing is certain, if you give Collins or Murray a gap they will break you.
100m Hurdles – Up until last week most would agree that Josh Quinnie was the favorite. That’s not to say that Quinnie has not been performing well as of late, but Terrence Gibson (14.77), Matt Hunter (14.81), and Jermaine Kelly (14.88) have made it very crowded at the top. Until somebody beats Quinie head-to-head he remains the top hurdler in the state (14.72), and a clean race may be the key to a state title.
400m Hurdles – Peter Farlow has been the workhorse of the Needham program all year, and narrowing his focus to a couple of events should do him wonders. He is the #3 seed at 55.31 and may find himself chasing Chris Pullerits (54.61) and Berngy Guerrier (55.22).
Making the finals will be tough, with Jair Cruikshank, Jacob Teixeira, Mike McAdams, John O’Neil, and Ryan Petrella all qualifying with times under 56 seconds. Peterlla has a ton of heart and the added motivation of scoring points to help his team win a championship.
4x800m Relay – Last week Acton-Boxborough did the unthinkable and went 1-2-3 in the open 800m at the Division 1 Championships. Later that day the same group returned to win the 4x800m relay in 8:01.17. They were pushed to the brink by Andover and Boston College High who finished in 8:01.93 and 8:02.72 respectively (race video).
Mansfield didn’t have as tough of a time, but they were challenged by Silver Lake. Shayne Collins ran the 3rd leg in 2:02 and Josh Lampron anchored in 1:52. It was a rotation that seemed to work for the Hornets, but Lampron will need to post a similar performance and Collins will have to run 1:58 or better if they plan on challenging for the win.
4x100m Relay – The name Andover has become synonymous with quality relays, and the 4x100m is no exception. They are the top seed at 42.57, but Catholic Memorial and Rockland are not far behind. Catholic Memorial is always a threat when Donovan Henry is in the rotation, and Rockland recently broke a 36-year-old meet record at the MSTCA Relays. Clean passes and poise should be the key to this one.
4x400m Relay – Unless another team can produce two athletes that can run 48 seconds for 400m, the field will be hard pressed to dethrone Mansfield who is the #1 seed at 3:23.02. But, Acton-Boxborough and Newton North are not far behind at 3:24 and Randolph just won their 4th consecutive Division 4 title at 3:25.93. Look for Bishop Feehan to move up from the #8 spot. They changed-up their usual rotation and dropped the baton at the Division 3 Championships and their qualifying time is not indicative of their talent. Given the quality of their coaching staff, I’m sure that problem will be fixed.
High Jump – This has been a great year for the high jump in Massachusetts and Saturday’s competition should provide some great drama. Khary Baily-Smith won the Division 1 title with a state leading jump of 6’10”. In that same meet, Carl Joseph finished second with a MA#2 jump of 6’8”. But they will not be the only two left when the bar is raised to 6’6”. Tristan Richardson, Nick Scott, Kevin Nichols, Sam Yoder, and Nick Staley have all jumped 6’6” or better in the past and should be in contention for a podium spot.
Pole Vault – Greg Copeland of Longmeadow is the top seed at 14’3”, but Brendan Sullivan of Westford is the Massachusetts record holder at 15’7”. Sullivan and Copeland are the only two athletes over 14 feet, but there are several on the verge. Cam Walsh, Will Plummer, and Patryk Backiel all qualified at 13’6” and their ability to clear 14 feet may be determined by the strength and direction of the winds.
Long Jump – Nine athletes on the list have jumped 22’1” or better this year and the top seven on the seed list are separated by only 3.25”. This is anybody’s event and it’s filled with some tremendous all-around athletes. Terrence Gibson of Rockland in the leader going into the meet at 22’4.25”, but Olisa Obiefuna, Craig Shytle, Khary Bailey-Smith, and Nick Scott may force him to a new personal best if he wants the win. In addition, do not overlook #10 seed Nathan Downs who has jumped 22’1” this season, and Yosa Nosamiefan who has jumped 22’2.75 inches this season.
Triple Jump – Tchuijo Nkamebo was 4th in 2010 and is the #1 seed at 47’3.5”. Olisa Obiefuna is the defending state champion and the #2 seed at 47’1.5”. But Obiefuna’s mark from last weekend was surrounded by controversy as it was initially ruled a foul, and then measured after the pit crew started to rake. In the end, it was deemed a legal mark, but the actual distance may have been closer to 47’6”. Regardless of the outcome last week, you will see these two athletes trade shots, and a jump of 48 feet may be necessary to win a championship.
Discus – Brian Sullivan of Hingham is the state leader at 161’5” and is the #3 seed at 155’7”. Sean Enos is MA#2 at 160’11, and is the #1 seed at 158’10”. Swardiq Mayanja is MA#3 at 160’7” but is the 12th seed at 141’4”. The seed list may not tell the entire story of this event, but it shows where athletes are in their peak cycles and how they are adjusting to the different venues. Also in the mix will be Anthony Todesco who threw a season best of 158’2” last week, and Matt Thompson who has a season best of 158’4”.
Javelin – The finest athlete of the meet will never step foot on the track. Kyle Quinn of Somerset is currently ranked 9th in the nation at 207’9” and has consistently thrown over 200 feet in every major competition this year. He is the clear favorite, but his mere presence has forced everybody around him to improve. Anthony Fodera now enters the meet at 187’3” and Richard Sterndale is seeded 3rd at 185’5”.
Shot Put - Tresley Dupont won the MSTCA Invite and never looked back. He is the #1 seed at 54’9.75 and will be challenged by Lance Burlingame (53’9.75), Swardiq Mayanja (53’0.25”), Don Caouette (53’00.25”), Sean Enos (52’11”) and Joe Hak (52’9.5”). After that, the seed list drops to 50 feet but Dan Cormier has thrown 52’7.25” this year and Grunde Brandso has a season best of 51’3”.