We’re not going to lie. With so many great athletes and performances from this past year, singling out just the top 10 is very, very, very difficult. It took us a while to come up with this list. It certainly wasn’t an easy task.
Without further adieu, here’s our list of the top performers/performances of 2023.
Over the last few years, there was no one better in the middle distance events than the Newton South alum. Everett finished off her outstanding high school career by added three more individual titles at the Meet of Champions (formerly the All State Meet) with victories in the 1,000m for indoor and the 800m and mile for outdoor. The now Stanford freshman also was a two-time All American her senior year, placing third in the 800m at the New Balance Nationals in March and taking runner-up honors at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in June. For her career, Everett racked up seven individual state titles and another crown as part of the Lions’ winning 4x800m relay during the indoor season in 2021. She also earned All American for the first time as a junior in 2022 when she finished third in the 4x800m at the Nike Indoor Nationals.
What can you say about this inspirational young teen and one of the nation’s best para-athletes? Mayo, who attends Boston Green Academy and competes for Brighton High, is a holder of several national titles in a wide ranges of events from the sprints to the long distances. At the New Balance Nationals in March, Mayo made history by winning the inaugural boys’ wheelchair mile. He did it with an indoor PR of 4:30.90.
Nathan Lopez, Paul Bergeron, and Sam Burgess
This one is a package deal based on what this trio did together and individually. Before the calendar was switched to 2023, Bergeron (Westford Academy), Burgess (Framingham) and Lopez (St. John’s Prep) went 1-2-3 in the Division 1 race at the Meet of Champions (MOC) during the cross-country season and followed that performance by all qualifying for the Foot Locker Nationals. In a race for the ages during the indoor season, this talented threesome staged an epic two-mile race at the Reggie Lewis Center with Burgess winning his second straight title with a time of 8:59.27. Lopez finished second at 9:01.32 and Bergeron solidified third with a time of 9:04.07. It wouldn’t be long before Bergeron and Lopez would become members of the sub-9 club, too. For the Westford Academy standout, that special time came in near-record fashion at the Division 1 Championships on May 27 where he was timed in 8:51.88, just 1.06 seconds from the 2004 mark of 8:50.82 by Newton North’s Chris Barnicle. After breaking nine minutes at the MOC in June where he won his third straight title with a time of 8:59.29. Lopez would simply annihilate Barnicle’s record and his own PR at the New Balance Nationals where he finished second overall against the nation’s best with a time of 8:44.54. a time that ranked No. 7 in the country and among the top 25 all-time. It was just three seconds behind legendary Oregon great Steve Prefontaine’s 8:41.5 HS mark from 1969.
Jacob Cookinham Captures Shot At adidas Outdoor Nationals
The former Bishop Stang standout is one of our state’s best ever with the metal ball, ranked No. 3 all-time against some of the greatest to ever step inside the circle. After winning the state and New England title, the top-ranked Cookinham finished a “disappointing” third at the New Balance Nationals last winter. He didn’t let that setback affect his mindset once the outdoor season rolled around. Cookinham continued to produce 60-plus efforts, including hist first national title with a PR of 66-11.5 at the adidas Outdoor Nationals.
Ellie Shea Dominates At indoor Nationals
It’s too bad that the Belmont native doesn’t compete in any MSTCA or MIAA events so that most in the state could get a chance to witness Shea’s reatness once she steps foot on the track or dirt trails. Among a long list of stellar performances in her career, she was perhaps at her best at the New Balance Nationals this past March. Shea, who competes for Emerging Elite, won the two mile and 5,000-meter runs with PRs of 9:49.82 and 15:46.28, respectively. If that wasn’t enough, she also placed third in the mile at 4:40.76. Yes, that was a PR, too.
Catherine Sargent Unleashes 44-footer To Win Shot At New England’s
With a plethora of 40-footers during her senior year, Sargent was one of our state’s top shot-putters. While a state title eluded the Dedham thrower – she finished third at the MOC during the indoor season and was second at the outdoor meet – Sargent was able to attain a New England title on June 10. And what a performance she had at the regional competition. Sargent won the event by tossing the shot a PR of 44-3, the No. 2 ranked throw of all time.
Silver For Sarah Dumas In Pentathlon At NBN
Dumas felt right at home at a place that will be her home for the next four years as a collegian, beginning this fall. The Franklin High senior and current University of Pennsylvania commit was at her best at the New Balance Nationals, held this past June at UPenn’s historic Franklin Field. The multi-talented Dumas finished second overall in the Pentathlon. Her point total of 3,516 points was 187 points more than what she scored to win the event at the MOC a few weeks earlier, a meet she was also the 100m hurdle titlist with a PR of 14.52.
Johnny Emmanuel Goes Sub-47 At Div. 1 Championships
The outdoor season in MA appeared to be the Year of the 400m in 2023. In all, we had 19 break 50 seconds for the one-lapper. At the Division 1 Championships alone, nine were under the mark, including Emmanuel. Malden’s talented senior challenged a longstanding record in this event by taking the top prize with a phenomenal 46.99, a time that ranks No. 2 all-time in the state. His effort enabled him to hold off top threat Natanael Vigo Catala of Haverhill by just under a second. Vigo Catala secured the runner-up spot with an equally-impressive 47.82.
Mile PR For Marcus Reilly At NBN
The Northbridge runner has been astonishing us with his prowess on the track ever since he was in junior high. During an outdoor season where he competed in just a few meets, Reilly was laser-focused for the mile at the New Balance Nationals in mid June. The University of Michigan-bound senior was in the race from the start. He challenged eventual winner Devan Kipyego of Saint Raphael Academy (RI) late in the race before solidifying the bronze at the finish where he was timed in a PR of 4:06.12. Less than a month later, Reilly was back at it against the nation’s best at the USATF U20 Championships where he earned a spot on the podium in the 1,500m by placing fourth overall in 3:51.10.
Bay Staters Shine At Foot Locker Regionals & Nationals
For the first time in its history, the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals were held at Franklin Park in Boston. It turned out to be Home Sweet Home for our MA athletes. A total of five runners from the Bay State qualified for the national meet in San Diego by virtue of a top 10 finish in their respective boys’ and girls’ races. For the boys at the regionals, Bergeron was third, Philiip’s Academy’s Tamrat Gavenas was fourth and Westford Academy’s Jack Graffeo was eighth. On the girls’ side, Shea took runner-up honors and Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Aoife Shovlin garnered the final tenth spot. Out west, the state produced three All Americans with Gavenas placing third, Bergeron taking seventh and Shea securing the 14th spot.
Congratulations to a great year in MA and good luck to an even better 2024. We’re looking forward to it.