Led Warriors to league title, best state meet finish in half a century


WAKEFIELD — Talk with members of Ruben Reinoso’s staff or listen to him speak at one of Wakefield Memorial High’s track and field banquets, and it becomes apparent the man has a serious character flaw: He simply doesn’t know how to accept praise.

Reinoso’s boys’ indoor track and field team this past winter won the Middlesex League Freedom Division championship, finished a close second in the state Division 4 Championship, had what for Wakefield was an unprecedented 10 athletes qualify for the all-state meet and saw five go in to compete in the New Balance Indoor National Championships. In recognition of those achievements, the Boston Globe last week selected him as Eastern Mass. Division 4 Coach of the Year.

Reinoso, naturally, responded to news of his award by praising his athletes and his assistants.

“Look around,” he said after being informed of the honor. “I have some of the best coaches in the state on my staff. When you combine that with a great athletic director in Brendan Kent and the great kids we have here at Wakefield, it’s just a matter of time before you achieve success.

“I always say these types of awards are team awards. This embodies what we are as a program.”


“That’s Coach Reinoso – very humble,” said Anthony LaFratta, who competed under Reinoso at Peabody High and now serves as one of his assistants at Wakefield, along with Justin Berry, Perry Pappas and Elias Reinoso, Ruben’s brother.

“He’s never satisfied that where he’s taken the program is good enough, and whatever credit he gets for our success, he deflects to his coaches and athletes.”

The never-satisfied aspect of Ruben Reinoso’s coaching is by design. The philosophy he espouses – and his assistants embrace – is “to improve every aspect of the individual. Be better every day – a better student, a better athlete, a better son or daughter.”

Senior sprinter and co-captain Dan Summers, one of 13 Wakefield athletes named All-Middlesex League Freedom Division, said Reinoso is effective at communicating that message to his young runners, jumpers and throwers.

“He always gives a good motivational speech at the end of practice,” Summers said. “It always relates to track, but it usually offers life lessons, too.”

Under Reinoso – a Spanish teacher at WMHS since 2010 and now head of the school’s foreign-language department – turning philosophy into production comes about through a structured, educated approach to team practices and individual workouts, his assistants and athletes say.

Summers, Lafratta and distance coach Pappas – himself a Globe coach of the year for his work with the 2016 boys’ cross country team – all describe Reinoso as highly organized and highly knowledgeable. He has an insatiable interest in professional videos, coaching clinics and written material on training theory and technique, his assistants say, with his sprinters and jumpers in particular gaining invaluable insights on how to improve their performance.

Early this past season, Summers found that he constantly had to accelerate to make up for slow starts. Reinoso, who works primarily with the team’s sprinters, had Summers practice a cone drill designed to lengthen his stride out of the blocks. The results were instantaneous, and Summers continued to improve, eventually qualifying for the all-state meet in multiple events.

“Every practice, he has a set plan to have everyone working on different things and getting better every day,” Summers said of Reinoso. “He’ll have you working on things to improve your form, to improve your acceleration. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have proper technique, you’re not going to reach your potential.”

A longtime Wakefield football assistant, Reinoso began coaching the Warriors in track after serving as an assistant in the highly successful program at Peabody High School. He became WMHS’s head outdoor coach in 2009 and took over the indoor program in 2012.

Suffering from a lack of popularity and participation when Reinoso joined the programs, the boys’ teams have since won three Freedom Division titles – in 2015, when they swept the indoor and outdoor championships, and indoors so far this year.

“Ruben changed the culture here,” said Pappas. “He made track and field the thing to do. Kids fell in love with the sport. A lot of them have gone on to compete in college, and a good number of them have become college captains.”

Such success is built upon high standards, Reinoso said. He’d like the Warriors to win another Freedom Division title this spring, but he wants his athletes to aim higher – which is why he found their performance in the state Division 4 indoor championship so rewarding.

The meet came down to the final event, with Wakefield and Northampton tied at 57 points apiece heading into the 4×400, one of Northampton’s best events. The Warriors finished a strong fifth in the race, but Northampton finished first, pulling out a 67-61 overall victory.

Nevertheless, it was Wakefield’s best performance in an indoor state meet in almost 50 years, representing where the school’s track and field program now stands under Reinoso – even if he won’t take credit for it.

Sorry, Coach. Your Coach of the Year write-up will appear in the Winter All-Scholastic special section of the Sunday Globe’s April 9 editions. Some praise just can’t be denied.