Published January 24, 2019

ROXBURY — The girls’ track and field team won their third straight state relay championship on Saturday, January 19 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. The Hornet squad consisted of 27 of the 48 girls in the high school program. Having graduated many seniors who are now competing at the collegiate level the girls were not expected by their competitors to contest for the championship spot but head coach Sotirios Pintzopoulos did not let this break his team’s spirit.

Prior to the meet Coach Pintzopoulos told his team, “We are not the favorites coming in, but we are better prepared and if we execute and do what is necessary we will walk away from this meet as champions.”

And that is exactly what they did.

Despite the positive approach, the meet began with a setback as the 4×50 yard shuttle hurdle relay team made up of Katelyn Gorgenyi, Isabella Parrett, Ella Monteleone and Ava Jolie Femia finished in second with a time of 31.50 but was disqualified due to leaving an exchange zone early. In an instant, the Hornets went from scoring eight points, two points behind Old Rochester Regional, to scoring no points and lagging behind the competition. However, they did not let this setback fester as the 4×50 yard shuttle dash relay team made up of Gorgenyi, Megan Lawlor, Kaitlyn Shevlin and Madison DiNapoli sprinted to a second place finish in 25.75, scoring eight points for the team. The Hornet B team made up of Lindsay Keller, Abigail Martin, Meredith Martin and Talia Monteleone, just missed placing by .04 seconds, finishing in 9th with a time of 26.17.

The Hornets were now in third place with eight points tied with Pentucket and Plymouth South, behind second place ORR at 10 points and first place league rival Newburyport at 16 points.

THE NRHS girls’ indoor track and field team broke two school records on their way to a third consecutive Div. 4 State Relay Championship on Jan. 19 at the Reggie Lewis Center. (Courtesy Photo)

Up next on the oval was the 4×800 meter relay. The Hornets stacked the relay with their top four distance runners who had not yet run in the relay as a team. The foursome of Grace Hadley (2:26.9), Lindsay MacLellan (2:31.3), Caitlin Raimo (2:37.3) and Julia Thorstad (2:29.1) did not disappoint as they finished 2nd with a new school record time of 10:05.02. The previous school record was set in 2003 at 10:11.03 by Jennifer Rippel, McCarthy, Vanessa Rodgers and Danielle Wicher, with three of the four having gone on to compete at the college level following high school. The eight points scored in the event brought the Hornet total score to 16 points and into second place behind Newburyport at 18 points, who scored two points in the event.

The 1600 meter sprint medley relay had two Hornet squads competing that were not able to place in the top six but the teams that did finish in the top six (Westwood, Burlington, Nauset, Norton, Wilmington, Medway) were not in the running for the team championship so there were no changes to the top of the team scoring chart. The Hornet A team (Abigail McLaughlin, Ellie Janasiewicz, Kerri Ann Sexton, and MaryKate Lundy) finished 19th with a time of 5:00.60. The Hornet B team (Samantha Martel, Evianna MacInnis, Ava Jolie Femia, and Abigail Griffin) finished 21st with a time of 5:01.97.

The 4×200 meter relay showcased the sprint depth of the Cape Ann League, as three of the top six teams were league rivals. Pentucket took first, North Reading 3rd and Newburyport 4th. The Hornet squad made up of Madison DiNapoli, Megan Lawlor, Kaitlyn Shevlin and Katelyn Gorgenyi ran a season best time of 1:50.52, inching out Newburyport by less than half a second. Following this event, the Hornets were tied for first with Newburyport at 22 points, with Pentucket not far behind at 18 points.

At this point, Coach Pintzopoulos had to decide whether to run his top team in the Distance Medley Relay or the 4×400 meter relay as he didn’t want to over-race his athletes in too many events. Based on how well the 4×800 meter relay raced he decided to use three of the four athletes from that relay and team them up with freshman speedster Madison DiNapoli.

The Distance Medley relay would prove to be the deciding factor in the meet as the Hornet squad was running on tired legs and coming off a few weeks of nagging injuries carried over from previous season training so many weren’t sure how they would perform in the event. The favorites were the distance powerhouse of Newburyport that was coming off a strong cross-country fall season and dominating the distance depth chart in the Cape Ann League. The Hornet squad did not let this deter them, as they came out strong with an opening 1200 meter leg by Grace Hadley, followed by Madison DiNapoli’s 400 meter leg, Julia Thorstad’s 800 meter leg and Lindsay MacLellan brought the team from second to first with a stellar 1600 meter anchor leg to finish in a time of 13:16.77. The victory over Newburyport, who finished second in the event, gave the Hornets a two-point cushion with 32 points over Newburyport’s 30 points. Pentucket with 20 points was not far behind, having picked up two points in the shot put with a 5th place finish. The Hornet shot put team made up of Ryan Hunter, Abigail Martin and Emma Borland had a strong showing but had to settle for 17th place with a combined distance of 76’ 2.25”.

With only the 4×400 meter relay left on the oval, all teams were awaiting the results from Long Jump and High Jump. When the Long Jump results showed the Hornets with a second place finish and eight points, Pentucket in 4th place with four points and Newburyport not competing in the event this brought the Hornet lead to 10 points over Newburyport and 16 points over Pentucket. The Long Jump team of Megan Lawlor, Kaitlyn Shevlin, and Isabella Parrett leapt to a combined total of 45’ 9.75”. The point totals meant that the Hornets had to score at least one point in the High Jump to keep a 10- point gap over Newburyport. Pentucket could still technically factor in as they had a strong High Jump team, but their 4×400 meter relay team would not be strong enough to close the gap.

In the High Jump Pentucket tied for 2nd, scoring seven points and bringing them one point ahead of Newburyport at 31 points. The Hornet team made up of Kerry O’Brien, Ella Monteleone, and Isabella Parrett had combined leaps of 13’ 11” which was good enough for 6th place and the one point the team needed. Their performance was also good enough for a new school record, breaking the previous mark of 13’ 9.75” set last year by Lauren Gulbicki, Julia Thorstad and Kerry O’Brien. Following the High Jump results, the Hornets knew they had the cushion they needed with 41 points, 10 points ahead of Pentucket and 11 points ahead of Newburyport. The 4×400 meter relay team made up of Ellie Janasiewicz, Elena Cogan, Samantha Martel and MaryKate Lundy had no pressure on them as they finished in 18th with a time of 4:50.21. Newburyport and Pentucket did not end up scoring in the event so the final score for the top five teams were as follows: North Reading (41), Pentucket (31), Newburyport (30), ORR (27), Notre-Dame Academy-Hingham (18), Holliston (18).

Congratulations to the girls’ track and field team. Their next meet will be their last regular season meet on Monday January 28 against Newburyport to determine the regular season Cape Ann League Large School’s Championship. They will then follow up with the Cape Ann League Open Championship on Tuesday, Feb. 5 and the Division 4 State Championship on Sunday, Feb. 17. All three meets will be held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. Come on down and cheer on your North Reading High School Track and Field track squads.