Marblehead track teams take down Peabody, Saugus; girls earn share of NEC title

Both the Marblehead boys and girls indoor track teams beat Saugus and Peabody at the brand new Track at New Balance complex in Brighton on Jan. 22.

As a result of the girls’ win, the Magicians (8-1) catapulted into a three-way tie for first place in the Northeastern Conference with Peabody and Beverly. They defeated the Tanners (71-15) and the Sachems (81-5) to get back on top.

The Marblehead boys (8-1) topped Peabody in a close meet, 47-39, and the Sachems, 79-6. 

Boys 55-meter hurdles 

The battle for the top hurdler in the conference was at stake in this event, with Alex Hersey taking first overall in the tri-meet.

Errol Apostolopoulos finished second in the dual meet and third overall with an 8.99.

Marc Grazado completed his quest for his sub-10-second goal. He finished his first New Balance meet last month with a 10.2, and returned at this meet to break the tape in 9.82. 

Girls 55-meter hurdles 

Devin Whalen and Claire Davis finished first and second in the dual meet and second and third overall with times of 9.34 and 9.42, respectively.

Elise Burchfield was third in the dual meet and ninth overall with a time of 10.32.

“I may sound like a broken record, but this group has dominated the NEC all season, and it will be exciting to see them in the championship meet,” said coach Nolan Raimo. 

Boys 55-meters 

Thomas Carlson finished on top in the dual meet and fifth overall with a time of 7.05, a significant improvement from the last New Balance meet (7.17).

Matt Mahan was 19th overall (7.42) and Ethan Horgan 25th (8.09).

Girls 55-meters 

Ava Machado completed the regular season undefeated in this event with a time of 7.73, and it was the fastest time at the track on this day.

Sadie Halpern was second overall with a time of 7.88, a huge drop from her previous best time at New Balance (8.07).

Gabby Hendy ended up fourth in the dual meet and 10th overall with a time of 8.18.

Girls mile

The Magicians swept Saugus and were first, second and fourth against the Tanners.

Maren Potter (6:04.25, 13 seconds, personal best) ran even splits of 3:02 to finish first in her best race of the season and young career, according to coach William Herlihy.

“She has been on a mission this year to run a sub-6:15, but now she has her sights set on a sub-6:00. It was an all-around excellent performance by Maren,” he added.  

Ada Merrigan (6:24.84) and Piper Morgan (6:46.88) rounded out the Marblehead runners in the mile.

Boys mile

Will Cruikshank, Nate Assa and Ryan Blestowe also swept Saugus and were third, fourth and fifth versus Peabody.

“All three boys ran personal bests in this race, and all three came tantalizingly close to their goal of breaking the five-minute mark,” said Herlihy. 

Cruikshank (5:00.5, three-second personal best) and Assa (5:00.13, three-second personal best) came about as close as they possibly could, while Blestowe (5:02.82, three-second personal best) was hot on their heels.

“I expect all three of these guys to use this as motivation at the NEC Championship Meet on Feb. 4 to achieve their goal,” said Herlihy. 

Boys 300

Sebastian Pantzer and Harrison Curtis took home the top two spots in the overall meet with huge personal bests of 37.73 and 38.00, respectively.

Marblehead boys indoor track senior captain Sebastian Pantzer runs around the Track at New Balance complex in Brighton during a tri-meet against Peabody and Saugus on Jan. 22. COURTESY PHOTO/CAT PIPER

Jack Burke finished 17th overall with a time of 41.57, a personal best by one minute. 

“In general, long sprinters struggle early in the season due to the lactic acid thresholds they have to endure, but these personal bests are a general indication that these folks are peaking at the right time of the season,” said Raimo. “I’m very excited to see what these boys and girls can do in the postseason.”

Girls 300 

Cate Trautman and La’Daisha Williams cruised to the top overall with times of 44.02 (one-second personal best) and 44.66 (two-second personal best), respectively.

Close behind was Cora Gerson, who finished fourth overall with a time of 45.97 (2.2-second personal best).

“Cate completes the regular season undefeated, while Le’Daisha and Cora both ran incredible races,” said Raimo. 

Girls 600

This Marblehead trio swept both Peabody and Saugus.

“Juliet Burchfield (1:52.74, one-second personal best) had the fastest opening lap of anyone in the field and held on to run another personal best,” said Herlihy.

Newcomer Isabelle Mortensen (1:56.31) ran one of the best 600 times this season while making her debut.

“It was very impressive in a difficult race,” Herlihy said.

Sienna Velandry (2:02.93) also had an impressive time in her 600 debut, holding off a Peabody runner to secure the sweep.

Boys 600 

These Magicians ended up fourth, fifth and sixth against Peabody, and first, second and fourth versus Saugus.

Xavier Grazado (1:35.56, five-second personal best) had his best race of the season with a big personal best, according to Herlihy.

Henrik Adams (1:40.2) showed consistency, running a time slightly faster than his previous race.

Sean Heenan (1:53.63) was the final Marblehead runner to cross the finish line. 

Girls 1,000

Maya Mahoney (3:37.04) was the first Marblehead runner to cross the line, accounting for a second-place finish against Peabody, but was No. 1 versus Saugus.

“Her continued improvement from week to week has been awesome to watch, and her best race is still to come,” said Herlihy. 

Savannah Caruso (4:01.48) returned to a more familiar event this week and picked up some big points in both meets, according to Herlihy. She was second against Peabody and third versus Saugus. 

Boys 1,000 

Ryan Thompson (2:38.62, eight-second personal best) had a plan and executed it to perfection, despite being all alone for the majority of the race to come out on top.

“To take eight seconds off his best time at that level is a testament to Ryan’s work ethic at practice and discipline in races,” Herlihy said. 

Gabe Bayramian (2:52.12) had his best race of the season, setting himself up well for a big race in the top heat at the NEC Meet.

Nicolas Regnault (3:08.92) once again showed consistency, demonstrating that his big personal best from the previous meet was no fluke, Herlihy added.

Girls two-mile

Cat Piper (13:26.39) took another step toward her personal best in the two-mile.

Angie Fischer (14:08.71, 22-second personal best) had a great race running her best time to date, according to Herlihy, adding that Anne Simcoe (14:28.61) had another great race.

Boys two-mile 

Isaac Gross (9:49.45, eight-second personal best) had what might have been the race of the day to finish first.

His finishing time was incredibly impressive, best highlighted by the fact that Gross’ opening mile (4:48) was the second fastest mile run by only four-hundreds of a second.

Jonah Potach (11:48.89) and Will Cronin (12:26.57) ended up second and third against both opponents.

Boys long jump

Alex Hersey (18-9, second), Sebby Pantzer (18-1.75, third), Thomas Carlson (17-1.25, fourth) and Errol Apostolopoulos (17-0.25, sixth) all finished near the top.

“It’s incredible what these boys were able to do, because they are unable to learn the event in practice,” Raimo said. “Alex’s jump likely had another few inches in it if his hand didn’t touch down early.” 

Girls long jump 

Claire Davis (15-2.5), Charlie Roszell (14-10.5), Elise Burchfield (14-2) and Sadie Halpern (13-10) finished first, second, fourth and fifth, respectively.

“Coach Veloukas was running back and forth between the boys runway and girls runway to help all these athletes succeed,” said Raimo. “Sadie Halpern had quite the day, and to jump 13-10 without ever jumping before is another impressive note on her freshman season.”

Boys high jump 

Apostolopoulos and Graham Tips were sixth and seventh overall with jumps of 5-2.

“Errol had an incredible day considering he’d been fighting off an illness, and still he competed in the 55-meter hurdles, long jump and high jump,” Raimo said. “Graham continues to work on a consistent approach, and his leap of 5-4 this year is one of the best freshman jumps in recent memory.”

Girls high jump 

Keira Sweetnam has struggled to reach 5-2 the past few meets, and she decided that 5-3 was more fitting, according to Raimo.

Sweetnam cleared 5-3 on a single jump, which qualifies her for the New Balance Nationals.

Marblehead girls indoor track senior captain Keira Sweetnam sails over the high jump bar during a tri-meet against Peabody and Saugus at theTrack at New Balance complex in Brighton on Jan. 22. Her leap of 5-3 was enough to qualify for the nationals, and she is also now ranked No. 50 among high jumpers in the country. COURTESY PHOTO/CAT PIPER

Currently, Sweetnam is No. 50 in the nation in the high jump. But unfortunately for her, the school record is 5-8, which is arguably MHS’ most untouchable mark.

For context, 5-8 would have been the third best jump in the entire country right now.

Elise Burchfield and Campbell Crane cleared 4-6 to finish sixth and ninth overall. Ava Machado finished 11th overall after clearing 4-4.

Boys shot put 

Riley Schmitt finished second in the dual meet and 13th overall with a throw of 35-5.5.

“Riley is returning from an injury, and even with two fouls it was a step in the right direction,” said Raimo. 

Alex Hersey was hurried to fit his three throws in after coming over from the hurdles, but he was still able to secure a third in the dual meet and was 19th overall with a throw of 32-0. 

Girls shot put 

Rachael Albert was second in the dual meet and sixth overall with a personal-best throw of 28-3.

“Rachael has been working diligently on her spin, which is an advanced technique that takes years to master, but she was able to find success after only a couple of weeks of spinning,” said Raimo. 

Lillian Reddy continued her impressive freshman campaign with a throw of 26-10.5.

Hannah O’Brien had a fantastic day after throwing 22-10 for a three-foot improvement from the first New Balance meet six weeks ago, Raimo noted.

Boys 4 by 200

Harrison Curtis, Sebastian Pantzer, Thomas Carlson and Ryan Thomas brought home the victory in impressive fashion with a time of 1:35.27, which is just 1.27 seconds shy of qualifying for the New Balance National Meet.

Marblehead boys indoor track senior captain Harrison Curtis runs in the 4×200 relay against NEC rivals Peabody and Saugus at the Track at New Balance complex in Brighton on Jan. 22. COURTESY PHOTO/CAT PIPER

“Typically, the 4-by-200 takes two or three meets to produce near 1:35 times, but this group was focused, and they executed the handoffs well,” said Raimo. 

Girls 4 by 200 

Cate Trautman, Ava Machado, Devin Whalen and Claire Davis ran away from the opposition in this meet with a time of 1:49.74 while topping their personal best mark from last season (1:49.77). This qualifies them for nationals.

From left, Marblehead girls indoor track senior captain Claire Davis, senior captain Devin Whalen, sophomore Ava Machado and senior captain Cate Trautman, are shown after running the second fastest time in the 4×200 relay in school history at the Track at New Balance complex in Brighton on Jan. 22, which qualified them for nationals. COURTESY PHOTO/CAT PIPER

This group ran a 1:52.14 in its first 4-by-200 last season, so a 1:49.74 without competition bodes well for the postseason.

Boys 4 by 400

Jack Burke, Graham Tips, Marc Grazado and Will Cruikshank put together a solid time of 3:59.37. Their respective splits were 60.07, 59.84, 60.69 and 58.79.

Girls 4 by 400 

Sadie Halpern, Charlie Roszell, Juliet Burchfield and Le’Daisha Williams ran a superb best time of 4:22.72, topping their best time last year of 4:25.

Sadie Halpern opened with a 63.82, followed by Charlie (63.62), Juliet (70.05) and Le’Daisha (65.24).

“For reference, the time 4:18 went to the All-State Championships last year, which is a testament to these girls running their first race together this year as a unit,” said Raimo. “Juliet had a very quick turnaround from the 600 to the 4-by-400, and she battled the whole way.”

Joe McConnell | + posts

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