THE 2022 NRHS boys’ spring track and field team are the D5 State Champions. It’s the first divisional state title in NRHS boys’ track history. (NRHS Track Photo)

 

WESTON — The story of the 2022 North Reading High boys’ spring track team will end with something never achieved before in school history: an MIAA divisional state title.

The Hornets bested the rest of Division 5 over Memorial Day Weekend with a 1-point nail-biting victory, totaling 55 points to seal the championship over Dover-Sherborn who had a 54-point second place finish. The meet literally was in doubt until the last possible second as it came down to the last event on the track: the 4×400 meter relay.

“We knew that if we chipped away throughout the meet, we would put ourselves in a position to compete for the title at the end,” said a very proud Hornet head coach, Ryan Spinney. “The meet was filled with outstanding, all time performances for the program and it set the stage for a very climactic ending with the 4×400 relay.”

The Championship meet was divided into two days of competition with the first day featuring the 2 Mile Run, 800 Meter Run, Discus, 400 Meter Hurdles, 200 Meter Dash, Triple Jump and Pentathlon at Weston High.

The Hornets had a number of athletes in the mix including senior captain Aidan Nadeau who took home NR’s only 1st place finish of the meet with his victory in the 2 Mile Run in a personal best time of 9:52.24, which puts him 3rd all time in NRHS history.

“Aidan ran an absolutely fantastic race,” said Spinney. “He took the lead and refused to give it up. He fended off a few guys that tried their best but they couldn’t overtake him. It was one of the finest finishes I have seen in 16 years of coaching in a 2 mile race.”

Junior Nick Fabrizio finished in 29th with a time of 11:20.40 in the 2 mile as well to cap off his strong season. With 10 points from Nadeau, the Hornets began their quest for the title.

Senior captain Casey O’Connor took 3rd in the Discus, with a toss of 137’ 3”.

“Casey was able to get us the big points in discus today,” said Spinney. “He did exactly what his team needed him to do and that is what he has done all season.” Senior Patrick Tannian had a strong throw of 111’ 4” in the discus to finish in 13th place as well.

Senior captain John Jennings contributed a point with his 8th place finish in the 400 Meter Hurdles in a time of 1:02.10. His finish is extremely impressive as he was simultaneously competing in the Pentathlon, which consists of the 110 Meter Hurdles, Shot Put, Long Jump, High Jump and 1500 Meter Run.

“John was a trooper for us today. He competed in the pent and still was able to run a strong hurdle race to give us a huge point. That is John through and through, anything he can do for the team, he will do it,” said Spinney. Sophomore Brandon Eng also competed in the 400 Meter Hurdles with a 26th place in a time of 1:05.79.

Junior Ryan McGuire and senior Quinn Riesenberg both competed in the Triple Jump as they finished 13th and 21st respectively with jumps of 40’ 4.25” and 38’ 3.5”. At the end of day one, the Hornets were in 4th place with 17 points, five behind leader Dover-Sherborn.

 

THE 4×400 METER relay team of Nathan Miller, John Jennings, Spencer Beane and Aidan Nadeau sealed the championship for the Hornets in the final event of the meet. (NRHS Track Photo)

 

Originally scheduled for Saturday due to the predicted weather forecast, the second day of the meet was moved to the afternoon of Memorial Day in Weston.

The Hornets knew they had some work to do as Dover-Sherborn, Old Rochester, Weston and Austin Prep were very much in the mix as players for the team title. The biggest point event for the Hornets on the day would be the Pole Vault. Senior captain Alex Carpenter had the best vaulting performance in NRHS history as he broke his own school record by clearing 14’ 6” which took 2nd in the event and qualified him for the national championships in June. Senior Patrick Tannian took 7th in the event with his vault of 11’ 0”, which gave the Hornets 10 points.

“Alex and Patrick have been the beacons for our pole vault success over their high school careers. Alex had an unbelievable day. It was a joy to watch him hit a new record and really have solid attempts at each height. Patrick was his steady self and he came through with two big points. They gave us a huge boost today when we needed it,” said Spinney. Junior Vincent Pastore and Freshman Nicolas Johnson both cleared 10’ 0” and had tremendous days in the event as well.

Senior captain Spencer Beane had a very busy day as he took 3rd in the 400 Meter Dash in a time of 50.88 and then finished 7th in the 110 Meter Hurdles less than 10 minutes later.

“We decided that even though this would be a tough double regarding turnaround time, Spencer would be in a position to help the team with points and he absolutely delivered. Those 8 points were massively important to our chances today and very few could have pulled it off like Spencer did,” said Spinney. Senior Jacob Mikulski, sophomore Brandon Eng and freshman Kaio Pancini finished 14th, 18th and 21st respectively in the event in times of 17.62, 18.02 and 19.34.

Junior Garrett Arden had another breakout performance when the Hornets needed him, as he threw 169’ 3” in the Javelin, a new school record besting his previous mark by almost 5 feet from earlier this spring and that earned him a 3rd place finish in the event. His toss also met the mark to qualify for the national championship event later in June.

“Garrett once again was able to come through in the clutch for us,” said Spinney. “He needed a big throw and he delivered in a massive way. He is so deserving of the success he is having as no one works harder than he does to be the best he can be.”

Junior Nathan Miller had another solid effort in the Long Jump as he took home 7th place with his best jump of 21’ 2.5”. Classmate Ryan McGuire took 9th with a jump of 20’ 10”, which moved him up into 7th place all time in NRHS history for the event. Miller is currently in 2nd place all time with his 21’ 4.75” jump in May. “Nathan and Ryan both had great days in the pit. Nathan has been a steady presence all season and Ryan has been able to pick up where he left off before his injury to compete at a high level,” said Spinney.

A trio of High Jumpers had decent days in the event as junior Jacob Duval took 10th with his 5’ 8” jump, senior Sebastian Gonzales cleared 5’ 6” and junior Kevin Doble competed well at his first state championship meet.

Aidan Nadeau took 17th in the 1 Mile run with his 4:49.11 effort in the event, just a few days after his 2 mile victory. Heading into the relays, the Hornets had 43 points which put them in a dead heat with Dover-Sherborn and Old Rochester.

In the 4×800 Meter Relay, the Hornets ran their best time of the year which placed them in 12th overall in a time of 9:13.78. The team consisted of junior Michael Hemme, senior captain Anthony Petrosino, junior Brodie Mann and junior Ben Meier. The Hornets now had the 4×100 Meter Relay and found themselves down by 8 points after the Dover-Sherborn team took second in the 4×800.

“We needed a big run from our 4×100 team to close the gap and they had their best run of the year,” said Spinney. In a time of 44.54, the team of Carpenter, senior Quinn Riesenberg, junior Caleb Sands and McGuire took 5th place and closed the gap to 4 points on D-S. “That was so big for us as we knew that all the teams in our 4×400 Meter Relay heat had a shot at the team title. To close the gap gave us life,” said Spinney.

The scores going into the final event were Dover Sherborn 51, North Reading 47, Old Rochester 43, Weston 42.5 and Austin Prep 41 all five in the mix to take or tie the title.

The 4×400 Meter Relay team of Beane, Jennings, Miller and Nadeau knew what was at stake.

“We talked before the event and they knew the score. Each one never wavered and looked focused. They were ready to give it all they had,” said Spinney.

Beane led off to put the Hornets in 2nd with a solid 50.8 opening leg. Jennings maintained the position with his best 400 leg of the year with a 55.0. Miller grabbed the baton and did what he did all year, he ran a 52.9 and set up Nadeau to bring it home. As Nadeau got the baton, Dover-Sherborn was not too far back in 3rd place. The Hornets needed a combination of at least 2nd place and D-S needed to be no closer than 5th, that would mean the meet would end in a tie.

Nadeau did his part as he came around the final turn and blasted a 51.6 to cross the tape in a time of 3:30.95, the second best time in school history and it gave the Hornets their second place finish they needed.

“The next few seconds felt like a lifetime as we waited for the other teams to finish,” said Spinney. Dover-Sherborn faded to 5th in the heat and crossed the line. As the Hornets watched the scoreboard, they knew one important item: a team in the previous heat ran a time faster than D-S.

“When the final results were posted, Aidan asked me if they got the school record. I replied, unfortunately no, but will you be happy with a state title? A happier group of four runners and their coach, I haven’t seen in my career,” said Spinney. “It was one of the best moments in program history.” The final score: North Reading 55, Dover-Sherborn 54. A title belonged to the Hornets, a very worthy group at that.

“Our coaches, Sotirios Pintzopoulos, Andrew Falanga, Kirsten MacLellan, Tom Ledoux, Josh Rocco and Joe Davis, are among the finest group of instructors and people anywhere, in my opinion,” said Spinney. “This group of athletes, coaches and parents have made this season so special and so rewarding for the community, school and our program. They all deserve this moment so much, and I am so lucky to have been a part of it. I will treasure this for the rest of my career.”