The Marblehead High spring track teams traveled to Norton on Saturday, May 13 to participate in the annual Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Invitational Meet.
A sure sign of excellence in sports is when someone makes something very difficult look very easy. That’s exactly what freshman Marri O’Connell did in her 2-mile run, according to coach William Herlihy.
“Marri finished second with an incredible time of 11:23.10, which comes with a series of impressive accolades: a 46-second personal best that ranks her seventh in the state and a time that beats the auto-qualifying standard for the Meet of Champions (to be held on June 1, 3) by 20 seconds, which also puts her second behind only Shalane Flanagan in the MHS record books,” Herlihy said.
Herlihy added, “Marri elevates her game against the best competition in a way that very few athletes can, and it’s a blast to watch her compete at this level.”
“Isaac Gross finally got the chance to race this season, and he did not disappoint,” said Herlihy. “His 9:40.88 finishing time was good for fifth place. It was a nine-second personal best, ranking him 15th in the state. He also hit the Meet of Champions auto-qualifying time, and is also second all-time in the MHS record books. The current record holder A.J. Ernst was also a prodigious runner, who had a successful college career and still competes at the highest level.”
Herlihy added, “Hats off to Isaac. This race was masterfully run by him, and since he’s only a junior we may not even have seen his best just yet.”
Girls 400-meter hurdles
Devin Whalen was in the seeded heat against the best hurdlers in the state, and she cruised to a sixth-place finish with a personal best time of 70.05, good for 23rd in the state.
“Devin’s new focus in this event has been incredible to see,” said coach Nolan Raimo. “She has trimmed five to six seconds off her time from last year, and a large part of her success is a result of sheer drive.”
Boys 400-meter hurdles
Errol Apostolopoulos (1:01.69, personal best) finished 11th.
“Errol sprinted easily through the first 200 meters and was able to build up a significant lead going into the final 200,” said Raimo. “But he got caught up in the final hurdle, which impeded his time. Without that final hurdle, I think he could’ve finished in the top five, under 60 seconds.”
Cate Trautman (26.31) led the way for Marblehead with a third-place finish, a half-second better from her time last year. It now places her 23rd in the state and second in the school record books.
Ava Machado (26.41) was close behind, coming in fourth. She’s 30th in the state and fourth in the school’s record books.
Le’Daisha Williams (27.20) was 18th, and Sadie Halpern (27.22) ended up 19th.
“To have four of our runners qualify and land in the rop 20 at a competitive invitational is incredible,” said Raimo.
Harrison Curtis (22.97) cracked the 23-second barrier to place 11th overall. Sebastian Pantzer (23.9) finished 12th. Thomas Carlson (23.82) was 26th. Ryan Thompson (23.83) came in 27th.
“Harrison’s time slots him 49th in the state and second in school history,” said Raimo. “Sebastian Pantzer battled through mono at the end of the indoor season and into the outdoor season, and his time considering his month of no training is truly remarkable.”
“Nate Assa has been a man on a mission this year,” said Herlihy. “His racing continues to improve from a time and execution perspective, and even as his times keep coming down, he always wants more.”
Herlihy added, “Nate ran an awesome mile, finishing 28th in one of the most stacked fields that day with a time of 4:50.85, which is a two-second personal best. Nate works so hard every day at practice, and his workout times keep getting faster and faster, indicating that his best race of the season may still be on the horizon.”
Boys freshman mile
“People say that track isn’t a contact sport, but as Henrik Adams learned the hard way in this meet that isn’t always the case,” Herlihy said. “This event had 21 competitors in one heat, and through three laps of the race 15 to 20 of them were separated by only a couple of meters.”
Herlihy continued, “There was a lot of jostling and pushing for positioning, and late in the third lap Henrik got his foot caught up with another runner, and he fell. Not to be denied, Henrik bounced back up and surged past a pack of three runners before holding on to finish ninth with a time of 4:56.77. He raced like a warrior and, despite falling, still matched his best time at that distance.”
Girls 100/110-meter hurdles
Whalen ran a 16.61 in the prelims, which secured the eighth and last spot in the finals, where she went on to run a 16.54 to finish seventh, which is good for 36th in the state.
Claire Davis (17.25) ended up 14th and Elise Burchfield (17.70) 21st to round out the Marblehead participants in this event.
Boys 100/110-meter hurdles
Errol Apostolopoulos finished 21st in the state with a new electronic personal best time of 16.78.
“Errol, like in most of his meets, was competing throughout the whole day,” Herlihy said. “When he finished this event, he walked straight to the long jump pit to jump on tired legs, and right after that he finished up with the long jump. Errol is a savvy veteran at this point, but in the heat of the competition, it’s always impressive to see him navigate them so well.”
Ava Machado led the way for Marblehead with a two-tenths-of-a-second personal best to place fifth in the prelims at 12.78 and sixth in the finals with a 12.89. She took down an 11-year-old school record (12.85). Le’Daisha Williams (13:05) finished 18th. Cate Trautman (13:10) was 19th.
Harrison Curtis was shot out of a cannon in the prelims to run an 11.09 right beside one of the top sprinters in the state. His time was 23rd in the state and is technically first in the school record books.
Joe Doherty’s 11.06 is currently in front, but with a 3.2 wind reading. A reading of 2.0 is the legal threshold for records.
“Curtis did not hesitate to let me know that he ran faster than my high school time,” said Raimo.
Thomas Carlson bounced back after a slight stumble in the 200 to run a very impressive 11.42 as a sophomore. Sebastian Pantzer (11.55) finished 22nd in the state.
Girls freshman 100
Sadie Halpern competed in the freshman division, where she finished first in the prelims (12.97) and second in the finals (13.15).
“Sadie has battled blisters on both feet over the past couple of weeks, but yet she’s still able to run these remarkable times without any complaint because of her sheer will and determination,” said Raimo.
Kate Twomey continued her excellent season with another personal best in the 800. She finished ninth overall with a time of 2:24.19, a two-second personal best, which solidified her standing as one of the best 800 runners in the Northeastern Conference and Division 3. She’s also ranked 48th in the state.
Gabe Bayramian (2:03.99, four-second personal best) also had the best race of his career at this meet, finishing 18th. This time also qualifies him for the upcoming state meet.
“It’s simply a testament to the work he puts in at practice,” said Herlihy. “He had been hovering around 2:09 for a couple of weeks but was able to break through at this meet in a big way after running excellent splits between laps one and two before closing it down with a strong kick to stave off any competition.”
Gabby Hendy, who has only run the 400 for a couple of weeks, finished 21st with a time of 63.13.
“Gabby from day one of her freshman year has been a disciplined, hardworking runner, but after she was sidelined with an illness during the indoor season, she has since dominated spring track across all of the sprint events,” Raimo said. “Her 400 time of 63.13 is fourth in the school record books, while it’s also only her third time running an open 400.”
Ryan Thompson (52.57) led the way for Marblehead with a 13th-place finish.
“Ryan has been battling a knee injury since the Masco meet, but he still ran a great race considering the swelling and discomfort in the knee,” said Raimo.
David DiConstanzo finished 20th with a time of 53.45.
“David has had a great spring training-wise, and I think we will see this time drop quite a bit over the next couple of weeks,” said Raimo.
Hannah O’Brien finished 24th with a throw of 76-9.
“Hannah has seemingly cracked the code this season with a season-best throw of 86-foot plus, and I’m excited to see Hannah approach the 90-foot barrier at NEC Championship Meet or the Division 3 State Meet,” said Raimo.
Girls long jump
Davis finished 17th overall with a leap of 15-6.5. Elise Burchfield (14-10) was 24th.
Boys long jump
Apostolopoulos finished 26th with a jump of 19-5.
“Errol participated in the 400-meter hurdles but then was immediately required to jump before his flight closed,” said Raimo. “The hurdles sap everything out of the legs, and for Errol to jump 19-5 into a headwind with lactic gunk all in his legs is a remarkable feat.”
Girls triple jump
Davis, the newest addition to the triple-jump squad, reached 34-10, which is 29th in the state and third in the school record books.
O’Connell opened this relay running a 2:33, followed by Cat Piper with a 2:51, Juliet Burchfield with a 2:42 and Kate Twomey with a 2:30 that combined for a solid 10:37, which was good for sixth place.
Ava Machado, Cate Trautman, Sadie Halpern and Le’Daisha Williams sprinted to a 50.77 to come in fourth overall.
“Ava, Cate, Sadie and Le’Daisha were on their third or fourth race of the day, but yet they fought the entire way, narrowly missing their time of 50.63 at the state relays, where they all had fresh legs,” Herlihy said. “The sub-50 mark is inevitable, and I’m looking forward to seeing them competing against the best in the state in a few weeks.”
Jacob Bobowski, Harrison Curtis, Thomas Carlson and Sebastian Pantzer finished fifth with a 44.55, which is also a new school record.
Cora Gerson, Maren Rowe, Gabby Hendy and Devin Whalen ended up seventh with a time of 4:39.92.