Valenti named athlete of year

THE NRHS GIRLS VARSITY TRACK TEAM tied for first place in the CAL Championships. (John Friberg Photo)

THE NRHS GIRLS VARSITY TRACK TEAM tied for first place in the CAL Championships. (John Friberg Photo)

WEST NEWBURY — After winning the Cape Ann League title for the second year in a row, the undefeated girls’ track and field team competed in the league’s Open Championships Saturday. The Hornets finished in a first-place tie with Pentucket Regional High School. Both schools hit the century mark, scoring 100 points each.

North Reading finished the regular dual meet season 8-0 overall to capture the CAL Baker Division title while Pentucket had a regular session record of 6-2 to win the CAL Kinney Division title.

The top athletes in the league compete in this championship meet after hitting automatic or provisional qualifying standards. North Reading had over 20 individuals as well as all three relay teams qualify to compete at this meet.

Third straight title for Godzinski

Leading the team to victory was senior captain Cole Godzinski, who scored 26 of the team’s 100 points en route to taking home four medals – one gold, two silver and one bronze.

“Cole won her third straight league title, having previously won in her sophomore and junior year, in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 15.68,” said her elated coach, Sotirios Pintzopoulos.

He added, “She followed that victory with a second-place finish in the triple jump with a season best leap of 34’ 8”. She capped off the medal collection with a third-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 17’ ¼” and she added another second-place finish running the third leg of the 4×100-meter relay, along with Rachel Hill, Juliette Nadeau and Julia Valenti.”

Valenti CAL Athlete of the Year

Valenti also had a standout day, scoring 18 points and taking home three medals (gold-silver-bronze). In addition to anchoring the 4×100 meter relay she placed third in the shot put (31’ 2”) and capped off an undefeated season in league competition in the pole vault with her first-place vault of 11 feet. Valenti was named the league’s Athlete of the Year for her accomplishments.

Hill, who led off the 4×100 meter relay, also scored points in the pole vault with her third-place 9-foot vault.

The meet started off well with the 4×800 meter relay team of Julia McDonald, Adrianna Flanagan, Haley Nathan and Jillian McCullough finishing third in 11:01.26 and scoring six points for the team.

Valenti’s third-place and Elizabeth Flett’s sixth-place (29’3”) combined to add seven more points in the shot put, while Frankie Elliott (83’) added another four point in the discus with her fourth-place finish. Sam Trulli (90’ 2”) and Julia McDonald (90’) scored 14 big points for the team with their 2-3 finish in the javelin.

Next came the jumps where Godzinski brought in 14 points, Jenna Raffael (33’ 4”) brought in another four points with her fourth-place finish in the triple jump, and Valenti and Hill combined for another 16 points in the pole vault.

Kerri-Ann Donovan continued to tough it out in the 400 meter hurdles with a 1:09.77 fifth-place finish, earning two points. Meredith Griffin improved on her previous best to finish fourth in the 1-mile with a time of 5:25.00.

Godzinski (15.58) then led a trio of hurdlers in the 100-meter hurdle race with her victory. She was followed by Olivia DeMonico (17.13) and Jenna Raffael (17.66), who were fifth and sixth overall, respectively, as the threesome contributed another 13 points.

Pintzopoulos said his team was “well ahead of all teams, including Pentucket, at this point in the meet. However, without anyone in scoring position in the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 2-mile races all of the other teams closed the gap, especially Pentucket, which had closed to within a few points.”

“The 4×100 meter relay was crucial as the Hornets had been undefeated in the event in league competition up to this point and the team was feeling confident. The host team, Pentucket, did not let that deter them as they blazed to a first-place finish in 51.92 and NRHS had to settle for second in 52.11,” he said.

Up by 2 points entering final event

At this point the Hornets were up two points on Pentucket leading into the final race of the day – the 4×400 meter relay. Pentucket was the clear favorite in the event as the Sachems were undefeated for the season. If Pentucket won the event and scored 10 points that meant the Hornets would have to finish second in order to score eight points and end the meet in a tie.

“The girls on the relay knew this and were ready to compete, although they were seeded fourth coming into the event,” their coach said.

Lead-off leg Kerri-Ann Donovan took the race out in 63 seconds and put the team in second place, behind Pentucket. Julia McDonald held that position throughout the second leg with her 64-second split. Meredith Griffin took the baton for the third leg and sprinted a 65-second split. This kept the team within striking distance, but the Hornets fell off from second place as Ipswich’s third leg ran a 61-second split.

Getting the baton 20 meters behind Ipswich’s anchor leg was North Reading’s freshman anchor Kirsten Bradley.

“Kirsten knew the team needed second if they wanted the Championship and she went all out, chasing the Ipswich runner down on the second turn and pulling in front in the final straight away, racing to the finish with a 62-second split, with the team’s final time being a new season best of 4:14.33,” Pintzopoulos said. The Sachems finished in 4:06.47.

“The tie was not a disappointment as both Pentucket and North Reading had stellar performances on the day,” he said.

For Pintzopoulos’s efforts in leading the Hornets to their second straight league title and their undefeated regular season, his peers named him CAL Coach of the Year.

Both teams will compete next at their respective state championship meets, Pentucket at the Division 3 championship and North Reading at the Division 4 championship, being held in Norwell, on Sunday, May 31. The divisional championships serve as qualifiers for the All-State Meet, so Hornet athletes may very well be facing some Sachem opponents one more time this season.