Cadence L’Heureux is state champion in hurdles
By JENNIFER GENTILE
FITCHBURG—Melrose High School crowned a new outdoor track state champion in sophomore sensation Cadence L’Heureux, who swept the entire field
in the 400 hurdles with a time of 65.67 to land on top of the podium at the Div. 3 State Championship at Fitchburg State on May 25. The ML League champion is capping off her outstanding season and will advance to All States (Meet of Champions) on June 1-3 at Fitchburg State, where she will compete among all Divisional champions and medalists
After the meet, L’Heureux expressed her elation at pulling it off. “I didn’t know when I crossed the finish line because it was so close, then coach Nicole told me, and I almost cried. If you told me last year that I’d be a state champ I wouldn’t have believed you,” she said.
“She raced beautifully,” says her coach Shannon Kane. “I honestly cried.”
Remarkably, this was her first season running the 400m hurdles. L’Heureux entered the race seeded third at States but by only a fraction of a second behind the higher seeds. She entered an 8-lane track seeded third, which put her in a unique position. “It meant I would likely have lane six and not see the top two seeds during the race, which I’d prefer over chasing down the one and two seeds,” she explains.
It took a lot of mental toughness to prepare for the big race. “On the bus ride [to States] I visualized the race from the block start, to each individual hurdle, to the lean across the finish line. During warm ups Coach Kane reminded me that I deserved to be a state champ, that I have put in the work, but that it may be painful. So, accept the pain. That has really benefitted my mindset during races.”
That’s a sentiment that her coach echoed. “She works hard physically and mentally and that’s what makes her so good. She knows when she has to leave her comfort zone.”
Due to the staggered start, L’Heureux knew that timing was everything. “I needed to go out strong. I started hurting at the 200 and when I came around the final curve, I heard someone on my left. The whole final straight away we were neck and neck. I just pushed and tried to maintain form.”
Medals, they’ve got medals!
The state champion was also joined by some well-earned medalists from MHS who also found the podium that day.
Three on the boy’s side will also advance to All States: Ellis lurilli-Hough and Caleb Barnes, both in the 2 mile, and Gabe Buffonge in the 110 hurdles after qualifying with times.
Both the boys and the girls teams had great finishes with many athletes and two relay teams landing on the podium.
The medalists include:
Div. 3 State Medalists:
Cadence L’Heureux (400 hurdles, state champ)
4×800 relay team of Amy Rowe, Jillian Bakey, Darby Thompson and Cadence L’Heureux (5th)
Jillian Bakey (2 mile, 8th)
Caleb Barnes (2 mile, 6th)
Sam Madden (High Jump, 6th)
Adam Caldwell (800m, 8th place)
4×800 relay team of Adam Caldwell, Ellis-lurilli Hough, John Strong and Jonah Tully)
Overall, those who qualified for events during the weekend were, Girls: Abby Dennison (400m) Darby Thompson (800, 1 mile) Jillian Bakey (1 mile, 2 mile) Juliet Moore (2 mile) Cadence L’Heureux (Long jump, 400 hurdles) Meghan Radzick (triple jump) Emeline Boyer (shot put, high jump, pentathlon) Abby Taylor (pentathlon) Aisling Donegan (javelin) Scarlett Timm (high jump) Juliet Moore (2 mile, relay) and Noelle L’Heureux (shot put)
Qualifying for the boys were: Josh Grant (100 dash) Sam O’Donnell (400 dash) Jonah Tully (800m) Caleb Barnes (2 mile, 1 mile) Adam Caldwell (800, 1 mile) Ellis lurilli Hough (1 mile, 2 mile, relay) Jonah Tully (relay) John Strong (relay) Jevon Ssubugwawo (400 dash, 400 hurdle) Giancarlo Martinis Torres (110 hurdle) Gabe Bufffonge (110 hurdle) Sam Madden (high jump) Charlie Finnachario (high jump) and Charley Krygowski (javelin)
For those lucky enough to race at this weekend’s Meet of Champions, including their distance senior captain Ellis lurilli-Hough, this may represent a bittersweet end of their high school racing.
As for the sophomore state champ, who is seeding 9th, “To place at All State would be a dream,” L’Heureux says. “I’m proud of the work I’ve put in and so grateful to be part of this team and thankful to my coaches.”