Staples relay and Ando win at New Englands
The four local track teams are blessed with top performers.
These champion-caliber pole vaulter, relay teams, sprinter and shot putter represented themselves and their teams well at the New England Outdoor Track championships in New Britain on Saturday.
The Staples boys outdoor track had the best showing of all four local teams. Although Staples was seeded fifth in the 4x400-meter relay, sophomore Jon Heil and juniors Sean Gallagher, Jack Roche and Rafi Ray broke the school record and won the race with a time of 3:19.43.
"We all really had a very great day and the training came together," Roche said. "We worked hard before the championship season and we made sure we were in the weight room."
Heil and Gallagher got the Wreckers off to a good start.
"I knew I had to run fast because we weren't seeded first, so I had to run faster than usual for the first 200 meters and hold on for the last 200," Heil said.
Gallagher said, "We all knew we had to run the race of our life and we were determined. We made sure we prepared well and gave it to Rafi in good position."
When Gallagher gave the baton to Roche, Staples was in fourth. He then put the Wreckers in third with 100 meters left on his leg and right before he gave the baton to Ray, he put Staples in first place.
"My mentality was to get it to Rafi in good position because if we did, we'd have a good chance of winning," Roche said. "We knew we had a shot but were seeded fifth. In the end, we closed the margin on other teams and it was a matter of getting Rafi in good position."
Ray then let his Andover counterpart get ahead so he could pace off of him and in the end, he gave the Wreckers the victory by 10 meters.
"I pushed myself to the limit to get my team into first because all the guys worked hard," Ray said. "It feels great and we tried out hardest."
Ray also won a bronze medal with a third-place finish in the 400 meters (49.74).
"I tried my best and I tried to get out in front," Ray said. `I knew it was raining and a lot of guys had trouble with it, but I figured if I ran my best, we'd place."
Staples girls track senior captain Joselyn Henry broke the school record in the shot put (39-10) and placed fourth.
"There was a lot of competition in the meet and I tried my best, which allowed me to exceed expectations," Henry said. "I tried to focus on technique and I balanced it with being strong and sharp."
Weston girls senior captain Emily Ando won the pole vault (11-3).
"The key was keeping my focus," Ando said. "It was a bad day weather-wise and we had to stop jumping because of it and it was a matter of keeping focused. I'm really excited to win New Englands."
Ando will compete at the National Championships in North Carolina today.
"I'm hoping to do the best I can," Ando said. "It would be really amazing if I'm All-American and I hope to do it. If not, I hope to finish in the top 10."
The Weston boys team's 4x800-meter relay team of senior captain Ryan Gilmore, freshman Dave Stankiewicz, senior captain James Bloom and senior Steve Piscatelli took third (7:51.87) and broke the school record by almost five seconds.
"We were very happy with our time and place," Gilmore said. "The key was being competitive and we went for ti."
Bloom said, "We were very happy with it. Our goal was to be All-New England and we achieved it. The big key was having team pride. It was important to stay mentally focused in the race and we knew we were doing it for our team."
Tomorrow at 8:45 a.m., Gilmore, Stankiewicz, Bloom and Piscatelli run the 4xmile at Nationals.
"We're hoping to go All-American and if we do that, it would be a great season," Bloom said.