Over two days at Fitchburg State University, our state’s best track & field athletes will be contesting in 20 different events at the MIAA Meet of Champions (MOC). If you’re a fan of track & field, this is the place to be on Thursday and Saturday. It’s here where you’ll get a chance to witness some incredible athletes giving it their all with hopes of reaching success at the end, whether it’s a victory, a podium finish or a PR. Want to talk about talent in these fields? Here’s a few examples. A time of 2:19.85 puts you at No. 25 in the girls’ 800-meter run. How about the boys’ mile? If you didn’t run under 4:26, you ranked 38th or higher.
Here’s what we consider the top storylines for Day 2 of the MOC
Here we go again. We said this would be one of the featured events at last week’s Division 1 Championships and we were right as Malden’s Johnny Emmanuel claimed gold with a winning time of 46.99! He led seven others under 50 seconds, including runner-up Natanael Vigo Catala of Haverhill, who was timed in 47.82. Emmanuel had to gain quite a bit of confidence from that race and you know Vigo-Catala is going to have fire in his eyes in a rematch with his rival. Be prepared for another classic duel. The state record of 46.71 by Brockton’s Mike Sullivan in 1979 was for 440 yards. The conversion for that time is 46.44. We’re guessing that’s the goal for Emmanuel, who was originally scheduled for the 200m, but scratched out. We’re thinking the reason behind it could be so he’s fresh and ready to make an attempt. But don’t count out Vigo-Catala. This race has potential to upstage last week’s showdown. By the way, 14 in this field have dipped under 50 seconds! That’s incredible!
Boys’ High Jump
This event features Bishop Feehan’s John Mignacca, whose been having a great spring season, one that’s included a PR of 6 feet, 8 inches, a best by four inches from last year. Mignacca will have the competition to push him on Saturday. Three other athletes in the field have leaped 6-6 – Tewksbury’s Ryan Cuvier, Carver’s Camren Allain and Ipswich’s Keith Townsend.
Girls’ Pole Vault
We mistakenly put this event in our Day 1 article so we’re reposting by cutting and pasting it here.
Even if your athlete, daughter, sister or girlfriend – did we miss anyone? – is not competing in this event, you might want to shift your attention to the infield area of the track when it gets down to the final few athletes. We expect two of them to be Westborough’s Melinda Haagensen and Natick’s Alyssa Peasley. Haagensen soared to a PR of 12 feet, 7 inches to win this event in D3. Peasley was the D2 winner at 12-0.
We’re listing both the boys and girls, simply because of the quality of the fields. The girls’ event features seven athletes that have tossed the metal ball more than 40 feet! When’s the last time that’s happened? Is anyone’s guess who will win on Saturday. There’s a trio of 43-footers with Newton North’s Skye Petrie-Cameron (43-1.75). Peabody’s Aaliyah Callahan (43-0.5) and Stoughton’s Simarah McPherson (43-0). There’s also indoor champion Ronnie Jones of Lowell. She has a outdoor best of 42-0, but has done 43-plus. We had the chance to talk with her after her victory at the Div. 1 Championships and she indicated she’s ready to pop one. When asked what type of throw that would be, she told us 45 feet. We’ll see. This could get interesting.
On the boys’ side, Bishop Stang’s Jacob Cookinham, who was challenging 70 feet throughout the indoor season, is the No. 1 seed. His best this spring is 65-11 from a CCL meet on May 9. Cookinham will have some company on Saturday with another 60-footer expected to step in the circle, Parker Charter’s Theo Puterbaugh, who has a top throw of 62-3 this spring. Don’t ignore Peabody’s Alex Jackson. The talented sophomore went 58-6 at the Jim Hoar Freshmen-Sophomore Invitational and was the D2 winner. He could surprise with one big throw,
Just one hundredth of a second separates our top four seeds. What’s that, like a toenail? Whatever the distance is, we know it’s really, really close and that’s what we expect this race will be at the finish with Methuen’s Darwin Jiminez (10.61), Wellesley’s Christopher Brooks (10.61) Newton North’s Everton Muir (10.62) and Bridgewater Raynham’s Kauan Bento (10.62) our top four seeds. Brooks could be the slight favorite here, especially after taking the 200m crown on Thursday night with a state-leading 21.42.
Could we have a sub-12 in the girls’ race? Indoor 55m champion Sara Claifin is the runner we feel has a chance to accomplish that milestone. The Pembroke junior came close in D4 last weekend where she had blazed to an all-time best of 12.04.
Both races have potential to create some excitement at the end. Fresh off their victories during Day 1, North Andover’s Ryan Connolly (800m) and St. John’s Prep’s Nathan Lopez (two mile) toe the line here. There’s also Framingham’s Sam Burgess, a runner-up in the 2M. Lopez looked awfully strong running sub nine minutes to capture the deuce on Thursday and Connolly won a stacked 800m race with a strong 1:54.11. This talented trio all registered their PRs at the BSR Elite Scholastic Mile last month with Lopez clocking 4:08.28. Burgess finishing at 4:10.28 and Connolly timed in 4:13.34. This one could get fast in a hurry. In the girls’ race, Newton South’s Amelia Everett will be looking to add yet another individual title to her long list. She had a best of 4:47.97 from the BSR race. The Stanford-bound senior is a heavy favorite and will be running her final state competition as a high-schooler. That, in itself, makes Saturday’s race extra special.
We’re going to list a few relay events that could provide a perfect ending to this two-day meet.
Look at the boys’ 4x400m? We have Newton North (3:20.02), Acton Boxborough (3:20.86) and Lexington (3:21.42) the 1-2-3 finishers from D1, all on the cusp of breaking 3:20. The state record os 3:18.51 by Natick in 2016. Could it be challenged this weekend? The boys’ 4x200m could also be intense with recent state record-holder St. John’s Prep holding the No. 1 seed with its winning 41.92 from D1 last week. There’s also Lexington (42-21) and Methuen (42.24), who took the next two spots in that race. You gotta like the 4x800s, too. Brookline leads the way for girls with a seed of 9:23.38. Cambridge Rindge & Latin (9:28.94), Lexington (9:32.64) and Newton South (9:34.12) should also not be ignored. St. John’s Prep with Nathan Lopez as their anchor, is the top seed in the boys’ race with a time of 7:49.97. Newton North (7:54.42), Brookline (7:55.85), Natick (7:56.67) and Wellesley (7:58.11) also have gone under eight minutes. Lopez, who won the 2M on Thursday and is the No. 1 seed in the mile on Saturday, might have a chance to win three gold medals at the MOC with a win here.