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17th New England Championships
Feb 27, 2004 at Reggie Lewis Center, Boston MA

It Only Happens at Reggie

by John Carroll

For the second consecutive year the New England high school track meet was packed to the gills. Fans packed into the Reggie. Sold out! Yep, a high school track meet SOLD OUT!! Not just sold out! For the second year in a row the building “was closed” (by the Fire Marshall). If you did not arrive by 6:45 PM you lined up and hoped that enough people left early so that you would be allowed into the meet.

It was a good thing the Fire Marshall stayed at the door because the track was burning up with fast times as the best high school athletes from the six New England states got together.

From the very first event, the girls two mile, the meet was pure, exciting high school track and field. Cassie Hintz (Old Town, ME) and Amie Schumacher (Holy Cross, Danbury, CT) took the race out, with Schumacher taking command. Amie, ran 2:38.5 and 5:24.8, and had nearly a 25 yard lead at the mile. It was about that time that the eventual winner, Mass. Champ, B.U. bound Fitchburg sr. Christine Laakso made her presence known. Laakso moved right with Hintz for a couple of laps, and then went out to chase Schumacher. With about 1,000 to go Laakso swooped in on Schumacher and into the lead with 800 to go (8:17.5). She pulled away for a solid win 10:59.93. Schumacher finished second in 11:06.64 just barley holding off the fast charging Anja Kreiger Redwood (Greenwich, CT) 11:06.98.

The place had hardly quieted down from the girls 2 when the boys two milers stepped on the track. Ahmed Haji, (Sr. Conard, CT) took the lead and passed intermediate splits in 2:23.4, 4:41.0, 7:03.4. The pack was strung out, and Haji seemed to be in command until out of the back of the trailing pack popped Cory Thorne (jr, Portsmouth NH) the New Hampshire 3,000 champ. Cory moved up on Ahmed for a lap, but then with about 500 to go he made a strong charge for the lead. A short battle ensued and Thorne moved away. The gap continued to widen when suddenly Thorne hit a huge burst of speed and just doubled, tripled the margin very dramatically. Thorne sprinted home like a 300 meter athlete to win in 9:16.50 (# 4 US). Some say his closing 400 was in the 56 57 range. Impressive!!

Girls 4 x 800 relay was next. The defending champ Ridgefield, CT made a early bid to defend. But this night belonged to the Westerly (RI) girls. They put the pressure on early in the race as Katie Lima (2:21.3), Lindsay Post (2:25.1), and Kaitlyn Stefanski (2:27.6) put their super-soph Samantha Gawrych into a lead. Gawrych is not one to let an opportunity slip away. Sam posted a front running anchor of 2:11.9. Westerly ran 9:26.28 (# 9 US) and Gawrych was only beginning her night.

The boys 4 x 800 was expected to be a battle as several teams cleared athletes from individual events for this relay. Massachusetts took the top four places, but getting there was not easy. St. John’s-Shrewsbury, the Mass champ, was undefeated at 4x800. Wachusett Reg, a neighboring school district, and fifth in Mass meet was ready for battle. St. John’s Nick Krouse gave the Shrewsbury boys the lead with a 1:56.5 first leg. They nailed 2:01.0 and a 2:04.1 carries to still be the leader going into the anchor. However, Brockton (MA) was close, and St. John’s Prep (MA) was also close. But too close was Wachusett Reg.-Holden, MA. Wachusett, anchored by Mike Banks, (the Mass mile champ last week 4:11) was ready, but so was St. John’s anchor Brian Watrous. Watrous ran strongly the first three laps, but Banks hammered away at the lead. The two teams opened a huge gap on the others in the race. Banks continued to pull Watrous in, but it was, oh, so so slowly. Ten yards from the line Banks pulled even and just edged ahead as Wachusett won in 8:00.21 (# 8 US). St. John’s second 8:00.84 (# 10 US). Banks ran 1:53.4 anchor leg while Watrous a 1:57.3.

The Girls High Jump was all Massachusetts (top places.) It was a Katie & Carley show for the second week in a row. Both Sherman (jr. Dennis-Yarmouth, MA) and NcNary, (sr. Coyle & Cassidy, Taunton, MA) cleared 5’01” and 5’03”on first attempts, and 5’05”on their second attempts. Sherman hit 5’07”on her first jump, while McNary missed all three times. Now Sherman had the bar raised to a new meet record height of 5’10. 5”. Katie had two very close misses at that height. Sherman won her second N.E. H.J. title. Her first was as a freshman in 2002. Now Katie & Carley gathered their clothes and strolled off to check in for the hurdles.

The Boys High Jump had Josue Louissaint, Madison Park/McKinley, Boston, MA, continued his dominant jumping this season. Missing on his opening height of 6’02” he cleared his second attempt, and waited. Josue passed at 6’04” and then won the event with a first height clearance at 6’06”. He then had the bar put at 6’10” but was not able to negotiate the height.

The Girls 4 x 200 Relay teams swarmed into the track area anxious to compete. H-4 had LaSalle Academy, Prov. RI sped a 1:47.62 just ahead of Hamden CT’s 1:48.10. Those would hold up for 5th and 6th places. Section five was the burner. Weaver, Hartford CT, Cambridge Rindge & Latin, MA, J.D. O’Bryant, Boston, MA and Wilbur Cross, New Haven were locked in a battle for three legs until Shanea Calhoun broke out of the jam entering the back straightaway to open a good enough margin. Wilbur Cross, with fr. Evette Maysonet and Margarita Landelius joining the Calhoun’s as they broke the meet record with a 1:45.01. O’Bryant was next in 1:46.48 and Cambridge in 1:46.89. Weaver was fourth in1:47.62.

The Boys 4 x 200 showed why the seeded section is not always the best section. Lyman Hall, Wallingford, CT got out of traffic in Section 5 and Chris Hubbard, Brian McWeeney, Andrew Pratt and Terry Barresi posted a quick (and winning) 1:32.34. Wm Hall, W. Hartford, CT was second (5th overall) in 1:33.13. Section 6 took the track, and Brockton MA took control as Robert Simpson, Daryl Alexander, Herman Glasgow and Richard Johnson lead all the way to post a 1:32.66, just off the previous heat winner. Brockton’s time was second. Danbury CT was close to Brockton in 1:32.75, and Amity, CT next in 132.88.

Four events, four crowd pleasers. Girls1,000 was next up. Different rules for competition in each N.E. state (Massachusetts limits their athletes to one running, one field, and one relay, while other N.E. athletes can run multiple events.) Distance doubles make for nightmare seeding. The 1,000 winner Kathleen Sanborn (sr. Rutland, VT) and third placer Abby Chapman (sr. Greely, ME) were not in the “fast section” since their times at their state meet were not fast enough to place them in the best sections. They battled in the first section and Sanborn ran home a winner in 2:58.08 (# 15US). Chapman ran 3:01.46 good enough for third place overall. In the fast section, Farmington, CT Jilian Gundling out kicked Gabrielle Gramprey (so. Brockton, MA) 3:00.67 to 3:02.33 as they placed 2nd and 4th respectively.

The Boys 1,000 was a very close race. With several top seeds dropping out to run 4x800, the race was competitive. Peter Fortunato (sr. Tewksbury, MA) was the leader at 400 in :59.4. But the field could be covered with a small blanket. Graham Snow (sr. Danbury, CT) was in control the lead at 800 (2:02.5), but the blanket was still intact. Down the back stretch Sam Fletcher (sr. Edward Little, Auburn, ME) made the move that got him to the front and the win in 2:32.37. Snow was 2nd in 2:33.19, Brandon Bonsey (sr. Falmouth, ME) 3rd in 2:33.64, Paul Ahern (jr. Londonderry NH) 4th in 2:33.84.

The hurdles began on the infield. The Girls 55 Hurdles qualified the eight fastest for the finals. Kate Sherman (jr. Dennis-Yarmouth, MA) had the fastest qualifying time winning heat one in 8.36. Madeline Outman (sr. Newton South, MA 2nd in H-1 in 8.71 also qualified. Three qualifiers came out of H-2 with winner Melissa Carr (jr. Chelmsford, MA) first in 8.53 and Natahsa Harvey (jr. Career, New Haven, CT) in 8.67 and Jullie McLane (sr. New Canaan, CT) in 8.69. Pinkerton Acad. NH sr. Kiah Quarles won H-3 and qualified in 8.74. H-4 had winner Carley McNary (Coyle-Cassidy, Taunton, MA) winning in 8.65 and Danna Fink (Manchester Cent. NH) getting to the final with 8.88.

The Boys 55 Hurdles took the fastest 8 from five heats. Section 1 winner Dan O’Brien (sr. Bishop Hendircken, Warwick, RI) qualified in 7.66, as did Section 2 winner Yudehweh Gbaa (sr. Hope, Prov. RI) with the best time of 7.54. Section 3 had three qualifiers as winner Marcus Vaughn (sr. No. Attleboro, MA) won in 7.64, followed by Chris LaBella (sr. Lynnfield, MA) in 7.88 and Robert Coates (sr. East Haven, CT) in 7.94. Section 4 winner James Myles (sr. Merrimack NH) 7.81 and runner-up Myles Bradley (jr. Norwich Free Acad, CT) 7.87. Xaverian-Westwood, MA jr. Zack Asack won Section 5 in 7.74 to move into the final.

Next up was the Girls 600 and Mary Heitkamp. The Fair Haven Union,, VT senior ranked US # 1 at 600m on a flat track. Heitkamp had won the Vermont state titles in Hurdles, Long Jump, 600m and ran 4x400 relay. She had already place 4th in the L.J. (17’07.75”). Now she took to the line in the 600. The Boston College bound senior was NE 600 defending champ left doubt she would defend her title. Mary had the lead at 200/400 splitting 28.0/59.9. Heitkamp finished strongly in 1:33.39, a new meet record, and the # 4 US 600. Runner up was King Philip-Wrentham, MA sophomore Allison Cuozzo in 1:34.06 (# 6 US).

The Girls 55 Dash had a mirror image field-the Calhoun twins from Wilber Cross, New Haven, CT. Section 1 had three Conn qualifiers as Daphne Desrosier (sr. Killingley, Danielson, CT) won in 7.21, followed by Monique Hodges (Wethersfield, CT) 7.22 and Marlene Brown (Norwalk, CT) 7.37, as well as Logan Crane (soph. Freeport, ME) 7.22. Shanea Calhoun won Section 2 with the best time 7.15 while Shantea won Section 3 in 7.20. Quinta Moore (soph. Lincoln RI) won Section 4 in 7.41. Connecticut ruled.

The Boys 55 Dash was a highly anticipated race. Dominique Worsley (sr. Manchester Cent. NH) was the star of the event. Dominique won Section 3 in 6.51 to make the final. Martin Manson (jr. Bloomfield, CT) 6.60 and Larry Johnson (sr Greenwich, CT) in 6.64 also made the final behind Worsley. Eric Osei (jr E. Prov. RI) qualified winning H-1 in 6.61. Four qualifier came out of Section 2 with Dahna Deleston (sr. East Cath.Manchester, CT) in 6.46 putting up the best qualifying time. Johan Rafael (jr Lawrence, MA) was next in 6.54. Brendan Lamboy (sr. Warwick Vets, RI) 6.61. and John Lancaster (sr. Foxboro, MA) 6.62 made it in.

Question: When is running in the fast section not a good thing?
Answer: when you have a ton of fast runners.

The Boys 600 proved that true. Five sections and the early leader came from section three as Kevin Kelleher (sr. Rocky Hill, CT) ran 1:24.04. His time held up for fourth place overall. In section four Brian Vail (sr. Deering, ME) and James Lourenco (sr. Bish. Hendricken, Warwick, RI) matched up. Vail, who was on the ’2003 NE Ind. Championship 4x800 Deering HS relay, left the field behind putting up a fast 1:21.57 (# 4 US). Lourenco held on for 1:23.26. Massachusetts runners Chadd Steinhauser (sr. Westford Acad,), Jon Wofsy (sr. Newton North) and Ryan Henry (sr. Norwell) were the lead runners in Section 5 as they clocked 1:23.71, 1:24.13 and 1:24.23 but only good enough for 3rd, 5th and 6th places respectively. Vail and Lourenco’s times held up for first and second.

The Girls Hurdle Final was over well before the runners got to the first hurdle. Katie Sherman (DY MA) got a great start and was the easy winner 8.24. Melissa Carr (Chelmsford, MA) nabbed 2nd in 8.46 as Kiah Quarles (Pinkerton, NH) out leaned Carley McNary (Coyle-Cass., MA) 8.56 to 8.60.

The Boys Hurdle Final was close. RI champ, and runner-up in the Boys Easterns Yudehweh Gbaa, Hope HS-Prov. RI had command early, but had to lean at the end win in 7.41 (# 4 US). He just beat Merrimack NH sr. James Myles’ 7.45. Vaughan (No. Att. MA) was 3rd 7.53 and O’Brien (Hendricken, RI) was 4th in 7.55.

The Girls Dash Final was a Connecticut repeat. The Connecticut state champ Shantea Calhoun (W.Cross) won here in 7.14. She just beat Daphne Desrosier (Killingly, CT) 7.15 and her twin sister Shanea Calhoun 7.16. Monique Hodges (Wethersfield, CT) was 4th in 7.21 just edging by 1000’s Freeport ME Logan Crane.

Boys Dash final was all Worsley as he equaled the meet record winning in 6.38 (# 11 US). Deleston (East Cath. Manch. CT) was next in 6.44 closely followed by Johan Rafael (Lawrence, MA) 3rd in 6.47.

Sam Gawrych (Westerly, RI) stepped to the line in the Girls One Mile suffering no apparent effects from the 4 x 800 anchor earlier. Sam was in command all the way, but she was closely shadowed by Megan Brousseau (sr. Attleboro, MA) at 440 in 71.2. Gawrych opened up lead at 880 (2:28.0) and by 1320 (3:47.3) it was apparent there would be no challengers. Gawrych came home in an easy 5:04.27. Kerri Lyons (soph. Wilton, CT) closed strongly for second in 5:05.53. Brousseau held third in 5:09.06.

Sandwiched between the mile runs were the 300 meters sections. The Girls 300 brought the Calhoun twins to the track again. Four timed finals and the “speed” in four. Amherst MA soph. Mandela Graves-Fulgham got to the front first and the race was on. Then the Calhoun’s (Wilbur Cross, CT) and Ashley Hubbard (Marshfield, MA) gave chase and closed the gap. Turning onto the home straight Graves-Fulgham was on the pole, the Calhoun’s went wide and Hubbard stayed just inside them. The whole group seemed to lean for the line at the same time. Shanea inched ahead to win in 39.87 (# 10 US). Hubbard 2nd in 40.05, Shantea 3rd in 40.06, and Graves-Fulgham 4th in 40.07.

The Boys 300 had too many speedsters. Scott Giordano (sr. Notre Dame, West Haven, CT) ran 36.22 to win the first section and finish 5th overall. Section four produced fast times as Brendan Lamboy (sr. Warwick Vets, RI) won in 35.53 just ahead of Konrad Stefanek (soph. Southington, CT) 35.97. They would end up second and fourth. The fifth section had Dominique Worsley (sr. Manchester Cent. NH) who quickly broke on top over Andrew Arons (sr. Wm. Hall, W. Hartford, CT). Worsley built up about an 8 yard lead and was on his way to a fast time). However, Dominique misjudged the actual finish line as he slowed dramatically at triangles for the relay zone. He cruised across the finish line in 35.12 (# 16 US).

The Boys One Milers were now ready for their time in the bright lights (which were set up for the USA National T&F meet). Gavin Coombs (sr. Griswold, CT) had declared for the mile in hopes of meeting the top Mass. Milers, but they opted not to run (for various reason and races.) So Gavin would be by himself. He had the lead at the quarter (:62.6), and a wider margin at the half (2:08.6). Getting encouragement from the crowd Coombs kept a strong tempo as he passed the 3/4 (3:11.4). The crowd was on its feet, cheering loudly. Coombs responded with a positive tempo charging down the back straight with 300 to go. But this was nothing to the charge he put on with less than 200 to go. Speeding down the back straight he came under the scoreboard (and the running time read 4:00). The meet record 4:12.29 (Abdirizak Mohamud, Boston English 98) was in danger. Coombs now turned on “the European type finish” as he passed the stands full of screaming spectators and crossing the line in a MR of 4:11.93. (# 8 US time – Coombs already has a 4:11.35 # 3 US).

The Girls 4 x 400 had four sections. As usual Section 4 was most competitive and interesting. Newton North, MA had the early lead and continued to try and press an advantage. But Wachusett-Holden MA, Westerly, RI and Marshfield, MA would not let that happen. On the third leg Marshfield’s Erin Catarius broke out to a slight lead. Westerly (RI) and Newton North (MA) tried to hold on as Catarius opened up a four or five yard margin. Westerly had Sam Gawrych waiting on anchor (her fourth race of the night). Marshfield had 300 runner up Ashley Hubbard waiting on anchor. Hubbard did not seem worried. Her team had not lost a 4x400 this season and she would not let it happen here. Hubbard brought Marshfield home a winner in 3:58.02, ahead of Gawrych and Westerly (3:58.61) and Newton North (3:58.99). The times were close, but the places were never in doubt.

The Boys 4 x 400 was also a thriller. Central Catholic, Lawrence MA won the third heat with a season best of 3:29.55. But the fourth section had the mettle of the race. Danbury, CT, Xaverian Bros, Westwood, MA, Brockton, MA and Hope, Prov. RI were all in the race. Brockton got the early lead, but surrendered it after the second exchange. Xaverian got into the lead, with Hope and Danbury close enough the read the tags on the shirts. Onward the three teams sped until the last turn when Danbury’s Leon Breece slipped by to win in 3:27.45. Xaverian was second in 3:27.68, and Hope, anchored by Yudehweh Gbaa third in 3:27.73. Brockton slipped in at 3:29.34 for fourth.

The Girls Long Jump had a big surprise from Connecticut. Natasha Harvey, Career HS, New Haven, CT, was the leader going into the finals at 18’00. 5”. Then teammate Nasha Cadette hit 18’01”in the fifth round to move into the lead. No one could do better. Connecticut went 1-2-3. Tahari James (Branford, CT) who jumped 19’09” last week for an all-time New England best, only managed 16’08” this week. She did not qualify for the final.

The Boys Long Jump was a close one as James Myles (sr. Merrimack, NH) hit 22’00.75” in the fifth round to just edge Myles Bradley (jr. Norwich Free Acad, CT) who had jumped 22’00” in the fourth round. Bradley fouled his last attempt and Bradley did not improve.

The Girls Shot Put was not decided until the last throw of the finals. Meredith O’Connor, (sr. Natick, MA) was the top thrower going into the meet hit 40’06.75” on her first throw of the night. That remained the leader until the second thrower in the last round, Stephanie Guy (sr. Foxboro, MA) moved into first with a 40’09.75” throw. O’Connor waited patiently as the other three throwers took their last throws. Now, on her last throw, the last throw of the competition, she put the nail into a undefeated season, and her first New England title, blasting 41’01.50”.

The Boys Shot Put final three throws did not have the same tension as the girls did. Only one thrower improved in the final three tosses. Jayme Dedona (sr. East Haven, CT) seeded No. 1 going into the meet hit the winner on his third throw, a nice arching 56’08.5” to move ahead of Matt Sheehan’s (sr. Nashua NH) first round toss of 56’06.25”.


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