Published in the December 7, 2017 edition

THE 2017-18 NRHS indoor track and field team has a record number of athletes this year with 103. (Courtesy Photo)

NORTH READING — The indoor track and field team at North Reading High School has hit an all-time high in enrollment with 103 (49 girls and 54 boys) signed up to take part in the sport for the incoming winter season.

Coming off of a successful 2016-2017 season in which the boys’ and girls’ teams were both 8-2 in the regular season and both won their respective Division 5 State Team Relay Championships, Head Coach Sotirios Pintzopoulos is optimistic for another successful season in 2017-2018 as he feels the strength of the returning athletes and large number of new participants puts the team in a good spot to contend for a Cape Ann League championship and possibly a state championship.

Pintzopoulos’ is joined by assistant coaches Ryan Spinney (Distance), Matt Dorothy (Shot Put), Kirsten MacLellan (Hurdles), and Joe Davis (High Jump) who each bring decades worth of competitor and coaching experience in their respective event areas and the sport as a whole.

Both coaches and athletes are excited for the upcoming season and are up for the challenge of continuing the team’s success at the state level in Division 4 after having competed at the Division 5 level over the past 4 years. The change is due to MIAA realignment based on school population as North Reading High School was competing against schools with enrollments under 800 students over the past four years but will have to compete against schools ranging from 700 to 1000 students over the next four years based on the new alignment. Despite having to compete against larger schools the Hornet Track and Field is confident they rise to the occasion.

On the boys’ side the team graduated a large group of state level competitors, but the returning varsity athletes are up for the challenge as they seek to continue with the team’s historic success. Those efforts will be led by Captains Justin Hong (Distance), Jake Doucette (Mid-Distance) and Nicholas Carpenter (Sprints), all of which are looking to qualify for the state championship in their respective events. Other returning varsity seniors include Andrew Crotty (Hurdles), Matt Dovale (Sprints) and Kevin Brown (Mid-Distance).

The junior class is small with six athletes but talented as all six have the potential to qualify for the state championship based on previous experience. Those juniors include Joe Disanto and Joe McCarthy (Sprints), Karlis Plavins, Zach Rinaldi and Casey Robarts (Mid-Distance to Distance) and James Garniss in the Shot Put.

The sophomore class should see some varsity level if not state level success from Cameron Chinchillo, Joe Frammartino and Billy Lord in the sprints and jumps as well as Andrew DeBenedetto and Matt McGotty in the mid distance and distance events.

The freshman class is large at 22 athletes vying for varsity spots. So far, the coaching staff has seen potential in the group as a whole which speaks to the potential future success of the program.

On the girls’ side only one senior graduated from last year’s team and this year’s team picked up a solid group of first timers to indoor track who have already achieved success in outdoor track over the past two years in the spring season as part of the back-to-back state championship team. For this reason, the coaching staff is confident that the team has tremendous potential but will certainly need to put in a lot of work if they desire to win the school’s first indoor track and field state championship title in a competitive Division 4.

The team will be led by Captains Meredith Griffin (Distance), Jillian McCullough (Mid-Distance) and Jerlin Kaithamattam (Sprints), along with 10 additional varsity level athletes. Returning athletes include Kirsten Bradley, Lauren Gulbicki, Rachel Hill, Maggie McCarthy, Juliette Nadeau, and Emily Roesch (sprints, jumps and hurdles) as well as Olivia Esposito and Julia Tatone in the mid-distance and distance events. Sophia Casciano and Meghan Griffin are new to the team this winter but are expected to make immediate impacts.

The junior class is also made up of 13 athletes which including several who have experience from both the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. Abigail Andre, Gabriel Barker, Erica Burgholzer, Sydney Corsetti, Abby Griffin, Grace Hadley, Samantha Martel, Meredith Martin and Kerry O’Brien all return to the team after a successful sophomore year. While new to the team, Kelly Bratton, Ryan Hunter, Megan Lawlor and Kaitlyn Shevlin come in with great experience from last year’s outdoor season.

The sophomore class includes 14 athletes with Nicole Bruzzese, Lindsay MacLellan, Lauren Meaney, Caitlin Raimo and Alex Richards returning with varsity level experience along with Emily Davis who comes in with outdoor track state level experience.

The freshmen class is small at nine individuals but there has already been great improvement in just the first week of practice.

Both teams open up their competitive season against Newburyport High School on Saturday, December 9 at 12 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. Come cheer on the Hornets at their season opener.