Published in the June 2, 2016 edition

THE NRHS GIRLS' TRACK TEAM celebrates its Division 4 state championship in Norwell. At left is head coach Sotirios Pintzopoulos. (John Friberg Photo)

THE NRHS GIRLS’ TRACK TEAM celebrates its Division 4 state championship in Norwell. At left is head coach Sotirios Pintzopoulos. (John Friberg Photo)

NORWELL — The girl’s track and field team accomplished the ultimate goal by winning the Division 4 State Championship. The Lady Hornets went 8-0 during the regular season, won the Division 4 State Relay Championship and the Cape Ann League Open Championship. Leading into Memorial Day weekend they had one goal left to accomplish and that was to win the Division IV State Championship on Saturday May 28th at Norwell High School. To win the meet the team had to place athletes in the top 8 in 18 contested events on both the track and field. The top eight athletes in each event would score points as follows (1st=10, 2nd=8, 3rd=6, 4th=5, 5th=4, 6th=3, 7th=2, 8th=1).

The girls came swinging out the gates placing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Pole Vault and 3rd and 5th in the Pentathlon, which were two events contested on Thursday May 26th, scoring a total of 34 points for the team. Captain Julia Valenti vaulted 10’ 6” for her 4th consecutive D4 title in the event. The only other Hornet to accomplish such a feat in school history was Hornet Hall of Famer Shannon Conway (08’) who won the 400 meter division 4 title four years in a row from 2005-2008. Finishing second to Julia in the vault was Rachel Hill who also vaulted 10’6” (a personal best) but did so on a later attempt so Julia won due to clearing the height on lesser attempts. Rounded out the top three was Victoria Grasso who cleared 8’ on her first attempt, besting out a field of 5 other athletes who also vaulted at 8’ moving her up from a potential 7th place to 3rd place. In the pentathlon sophomore Lauren Gulbicki and freshman Kerry O’Brien picked up 3rd and 5th as they competed in the 100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meter run all within 3 hours.

Coming into Saturday’s competition with a commanding lead with 34 points the girls were confident yet cautious as they knew there was still a lot to be done. Freshmen Megan Lawlor and Kaitlyn Shevlin were first up as they hopped-skipped-and jumped their way to a 3rd and 4th place finish in the triple jump with marks of 34’ 7” and 34’ 3”. Also picking up points in the Long Jump was Victoria Grasso who leapt 16’ 2” for a 6th place finish. In the Javelin Captain Julia McDonald took home the gold with a commanding toss of 112’ 5” as fellow Captain Jenna Raffael took 7th with a throw of 101’ 9”. Wrapping up the field events was Julia Valenti who took 2nd in the Shot Put with a throw of 36’ 9.5”. Also competing in the field events were Emily Roesch (High Jump), Riley Brunner (High Jump = 4’ 10”), Megan Lawlor (Long Jump = 14’ 7.5”), Elizabeth Carlson (Shot Put = 28’ 8.5”), Nicole Shedd (Shot Put = 27’ 3”) and (Discus = 77’ 4), Samantha Trulli (Javelin = 95’ 8”). This gave the team 68 points going into the running events, which ended up being more than enough to win the state title but they didn’t know it at the time. In previous years teams had scored over 70 or 80 points to win the title so the girls kept at it to reach a higher score.

Starting things off on the track were the dynamic sophomore duo of Meredith Griffin in the One Mile Run and Olivia Esposito in the 800 meter run. Olivia went out in 69 seconds in her first lap and came back strong in 72 seconds to place 4th with a new personal best time of 2:21.77, which ranks her third all-time in school history behind only Shannon Conway (08’) who competed at Harvard University and Nicole Roberts (14’) who currently competes for Amherst College. Meredith Griffin also took 4th in a New School Record time of 5:15.27. Her time bests the previous record of 5:15.47 set by Nicole Roberts in 2013. Captains Julia Valenti and Jenna Raffael kept adding to the team score as they went 1st and 5th in the 100 Meter Hurdles. Jenna’s time of 15.99 seconds is a personal best and ranks her 4th all-time in school history. Julia time of 15.03 is a new personal best fully automated time and is the fastest electronically timed race in the event in school history. Julia has run 14.8 hand timed, Christina Sadlow (89’) has run 14.7 seconds, and Cole Godzinski (15’) ran 14.6 seconds. Also competing on the track were Rachel Hill (100 Meters = 13.32), Kirsten Bradley (200 Meters = 27.26 pb), Mia DeNofrio (400 Meters = 63.49 pb), Victoria Grasso (100 Meter Hurdles = 18.02) and Jillian McCullough (400 Meter Hurdles = 74.95)

With only three events left in the competition (the 4×800, 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays) the Hornets needed a 30 point buffer. They had that and more with 92 points, which was 45.5 points ahead of second place Norton with 46.5 points. The girls knew they were champions but wanted 100 points and a chance for the relay teams to finish in the top three which would advance them to the All State Championship. The 4×100 meter relay team of Rachel Hill, Jenna Raffael, Kirsten Bradley, and Kaitlyn Shevlin ran an impressive 51.86 seconds but finished just out of scoring in 10th place. The 4×800 meter relay team of Grace Hadley, Meredith Griffin, Julia McDonald, and Olivia Esposito ran 10:01.90 for 5th place (a new season best). The 4×400 meter relay team of Mia DeNofrio, Julia McDonald, Olivia Esposito, and Meredith Griffin finished 6th in 4:17.57 (also a new season best).

The entire team (athletes and coaches) would like to thank everyone who supported their season and cheered them on along the way. Seniors Captains Julia Valenti, Julia McDonald, Jenna Raffael, Olivia DeMonico and Alexa Capozzoli graduate next Friday with the eternal memory of leading a State Championship team which is the best track team in school history and quite possibly the best team ever in school history. The rest of the team has now tasted victory and has already set their sights on next year as they will attempt to repeat as champions in 2017.