It all starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The top track & field athletes that have earned the qualifying standards, battling together inside the Reggie Lewis Center at the Meet of Champions. The best of the best all in one place. It doesn’t get any better than this, folks! Throughout the week, we’ll get you amped up for the Big Dance with full previews of all the individual events. Here we feature the girls’ sprinting and hurdle events – the 55-meter dash, 300m, 600m and 55m hurdles.
Just like the boys’ race, we’re expecting a possible photo finish in this one with between two or more runners. That’s how deep the field is for this weekend’s race. We took a glance at the last decade and, except for maybe 2015, there hasn’t been a field quite like this where multiple individuals are capable of winning at the end. The No. 1 seed is Framingham’s Abby Desmarais, who won the Bay State Conference Championships a few weeks ago with a state best of 7.13. The speedy junior did not compete in this event at the Division 1 Championship this past weekend; instead she won a tight race over Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Kylee Bernard in the 300m where she edged the top seed with a career best of 39.83. No doubt she’ll be ready to race on Saturday where she is concentrating solely on this event. She has been consistent in the short dash with times generally in that 7-1-7.2 range over the last month. Four more sprinters in this field have broken 7.2 this season with Wellesley’s Abigail Lothian (7.17), Norton’s Jillian Strynar (7.17), Pembroke’s Sara Cafin (7.18) and Westford Academy’s Elliana Tweedie (7.19) on the line. Don’t ignore our defending champion Kiyanni Simas, too. The Milford senior has a best this year of 7.25, just four hundredths of a second from her PR. She has the proven ability to compete, and excel, in a race of this magnitude, She was also second in the 100m at the outdoor statest. Tweedie is another big-time runner, winning her second straight 100m title along with the 200m crown last spring. This is her first year in the 55m dash where she has been relatively unbeatable, except for a runner-up finish to Desmarais at the Coaches Invitational last month where she was timed in 7.20 to her rival’s 7.18 clocking.
This race certainly has a chance to come down to the final few meters. The top seed is Bernard, who is the defending champion. The speedy senior has a best of 39.43 from her win at the Dual County League Championship where she was able to avenge a loss to the only runner in Saturday’s race that has beaten her this year, Concord Carlisle’s Obi Akubude, who won their previous duel with a PR of 39.57 during a league meet last month. Could this be the rubber match between these two gifted runners? Maybe? It could happen. Bernard is scheduled to also compete in the 600m where she is the No. 1 seed. She raced in the two events at last week’s D1 meet, taking the three-lapper in 1;36.79 and falling just short of the sweep with her runner-up finish to Desmarais in the 300m, where she was timed in 39.90. There’s a few others runners that are expected to challenge for those top spots on te podium, including Norton’s Ali Murphy and Tewksbury’s Jayani Santos, who have also gone under 40 seconds this winter with times of 39.87 and 39.94, respectively. There’s also No. 5 seed Shayla Ford, who won the D3 states on Sunday with a best of 40.03. The meet record is 39.04. That might be a little out of reach. But with talent like this, they could come close.
Bernard begins her quest for a sweep of a possible 600m-300m double here where she owns the top seed of 1:34.94 from her win at the Coaches Invitational last month. With 55-second speed for the 400m , she has the potential to run even faster this weekend if pushed, which we believe she will with the level of talent she’ll be facing on Saturday. Woburn’s Kayla Buback, the No. 2 seed, looked strong at Sunday’s Div. 2 race where she was timed in a PR of 1:36.06. Hingham’s Kelsey Tarby was second to Buback with her current best of 1:37.82, a time that ranks third in this field. Westford Academy freshman Abby Hennessey will be look to surprise a few competitors this weekend. She ran a nearly four-second best of 1:38.86 at the Dual County League Championship two weeks ago.
Look for a tight battle in this race, too. Here we have Akubude again looking to attain gold. She holds the No. 1 seed with a PR of 8.30 from the Dual County League Championship a few weeks ago and won the D2 title this past Saturday with a near best of 8.31. Akubude gets the favorite nod, but you can’t ignore a few other hurdlers in this field. Newton North’s Kiran George is the No. 2 with a best of 8.39 from her victory at the Bay State Conference Championship. George was a runner-up to Franklin’s Sarah Dumas at this past weekend’s D1 meet where Dumas clocked her best of 8.48. There’s also Plymouth South’s Camryn Travis, who won the Patriot League title a couple of weeks ago with a PR of 8.44.