By Joe Reardon
SACO, ME – Brockton’s Vanessa Clerveaux was never shy this spring in stating that her goal in the 100-meter hurdles was to dip under the 14-second barrier. It didn’t happen at Tuesday’s state championship where she banged a hurdle mid race and held off a charging Kayla Wong of Newton North for the win.
Clerveaux’s performance at yesterday’s 67th New England Interscholastic Track Championships on the Thornton Academy track, though, couldn’t have been more different.
The Boxer senior was the second seed to New Hampshire state champion Betsy Garnick of Bishop Guertin coming out of the heats and got off to a career start in the final to pull away from Garnick to defend her title and break the meet record with a scalding 13.96. The time makes Clerveaux the fastest female hurdler in Massachusetts history, while Garnick lowered her state record time to 14.09 to take second.“Indoor I said sub 8 (for 55 hurdles) and I did it the last two meets,” said a teary Clerveaux. “Outdoors I said sub 14 and I did it in the last meet.”
Mansfield’s Jen Esposito defended her New England title after capturing her first state title earlier in the week. Esposito slammed the first hurdle after the gun, but recovered quickly to run away with the 300 hurdlesin 43.59.“I was hoping to run a little faster,” said Esposito. “It was really windy and I hit the first hurdle really hard. I really wanted to come here and win again.”
Norwell’s Nikki Dempsey finished sixth against a deep field in the state meet heading into her win in the long jump. Seeded at No. 17,, Dempsey leaped to a personal best of 18-00 to claim New England gold. “I really worked on my height after states,” said Dempsey. “That’s my big thing. I felt good. My mark was on, which is good.”
North Attleboro’s Eric Beckwith led a 1-2-3 Massachusetts sweep in the shot put with his winning hurl of 57-8-3/4. The state champion finished ahead of Newton North’s Swardick Mayanja (54-11-3/4) and Steve St. Jean of Auburn (52-10). “The state meet was only a couple of days ago, but it was hard to get back into it,” said Beckwith. “My mechanics felt great, the best they’ve felt all season.”
Waltham’s Nathan PierreLouis didn’t make the mistake he made in the state meet by going out too fast and leaving nothing for the final 200. PIerreLouis had company for the first 300 meters, but used his straightaway speed to pull ahead for the sterling 48.28 win.Jose Ortiz of Central (RI) was second in 48.84, followed by Acton Boxboro’s Brian Sommers in 49.02.“I felt tired, but I felt good,” said PierreLouis. “I went out too fast (at the state meet). Today I paced myself and kicked.
Massachusetts 2 mile champion, Colin Bennie of Wachusett, anchored the squad to a 7:54.36 win in the 4x800 relay in the opening event of the meet. Brian Cusack, Jeremy Bennie and Hayden Frechette-McCall ran the first three legs.“They set me up perfectly,” said Bennie of his teammates. “They’re the reason we were in that position.”