Marathon Sports Winter Classic Preview

The verdict is in for Sunday’s inaugural Marathon Sports Winter Classic. This weekend’s meet at the TRACK at New Balance is going to be good one, a very good one.

What’s unique about the Winter Classic is that unlike most with age categories, the heats for each event will be based on seeds, not by divisions ( e.g. youth, high school, collegiate and open). That bodes well for most of our top high-schoolers that are scheduled to compete and potentially earn qualifiers for the nationals.

For the high school races, the 200-meter dash should be ultra-competitive on the girls’ side. The entries are led by the sophomore-junior sister combo of Lisa and Xenia Raye of West Warwick (RI). The younger Raye holds the No. 1 seed with a best of 24.25 seconds, while her older sibling occupies the two spot with a time of 25.15. The Ocean State has the potential to sweep the top three positions with Cranston West junior Ailani Sutherland at No. 3 with a PR of 25.79. It certainly won’t be easy for RI to go 1-2-3 as there are several individuals that could break up the party, including Guilana Ligor of North Reading and Jillian Strynar of Norton, who have times of 25.88 and 26.07, respectively. One runner that certainly has the potential to push her younger counterparts is top master Kylee O’Connor-Harrel, who has the No. 2 time of all entries with a 24.49 best, which she did for the final event of the Heptathlon at the Bryan Clay Invitational in 2018.

Lisa Raye, who won the 60m dash at last weekend’s MSTCA Boston Holiday Challenge, is the No. 1 seed in this event, too. She comes in with a seed of 7.54, which she did to finish second in the Freshmen race at the New Balance Nationals last year. She won the Holiday Challenge in a close race with Strynar where she was timed in 7.71 to her rival’s 7.78 effort. Srynar, who owns a best of 7.76 from NBN, will be back at the line this weekend as the No, 4 seed. Medway’s Katelyn Maniero (7.61), Xenia Raye (7.76), and Ligor (7.99) are also slated to compete in the short sprint.

The top seed in the boys’ 200m is Chris Steens of Keene (NH) with a seed of 21.78 from the Londonberry Invitational in late May. Alonso Parker-Sharpe of Cranston West (RI), who clocked a 22.55 at last week’s Holiday Classic, is No. 2. Twelve more in the field have seeds under 24 seconds.

Check out the boys’ 400m. Among the high school runners, seven have seeds under 52 seconds. including top two runners, JV Cunha of Revere (50.6) and Ethan Knight of Barrington (RI), who has a best of 50.5. Natick teammates Dylan Weddle (51.0) and Michael Oliver (51.07), Worcester Tech’s Cyprian Ojatabu (51.08) and Parker-Sharpe (51.09) are other expected to be battling up front. Open entry Cle Bolduc of the Heartbreakers could make things interesting. He comes in with a seed of 51.1.

In the boys’ HS 800m, eight have broken two minutes. The top seed is Luican Gleiser of Hanover (NH), who was a runner-up in the 1,000m at last year’s New England Chamoionships where he ran a best of 2:31.62. His seed is listed at 1:55, which was penciled into the entries as a time trial. Dover Sherborn’s Matt Rooney, a fifth-place finisher for the 1K at the New England’s, is the two seed at 1:57.48 which he did to win the Div. 5 title this past spring. Sharon’s Daniel Labunski (1:57.5) and Worcester Tech’s Devin Moreau (1:57.5) are among others that should be in the mix. Former Leicester standout Alfonso Rigoberto, who competes for Holy Cross, is also in the field. He comes in with a PR of 1:54.01 from the Patriot League Championships last winter.

Alanna Hagen of Newmarket (NH), a bronze medalist at the NH Meet of Champions this last spring with a best of 2:14.68, leads the girls’ 800m entries. Plymouth North’s Macey Shriner and Wellesley’s Charoltte Tuxbury are the next two seeds witn identical times of 2:16.5. OVerall, keep an eye on Weston alum Carmel Fitzgibbon of Yale, who ran 2:10.83 at a Battle Roads Twilight Track meet on June 17.

Of the nearly 30 entries in the girls’ HS mile, three have dipped under five minutes with the top seeds, Lily Jin of Wellesley (4:52) and Kata Clark (4:58.89) and Lucy McLean of New England Elite (4:59.63). McLean recently ran 2:12 for the 800m at the Marine Corp Holiday Classic in NYC. Fitzgibbon owns the top overall seed time with a listed clocking of 4:49.

Counting the open runners, 11 have a seed time under 4:30 in the boys’ mile with Natick’s Nicholas Bianchi and Labunski leading the way with 4:23.5 seeds. At No. 3 is Maine’s Sam Laverdiere of Lake Region, who clocked 4:25.05 on Dec. 30 to take runner-up honors at the USM New Years Invitational. James McCarron III of St. George’s (RI) and Marshfield’s Graham Heinrich are the four and five seeds with times of 4:27.

The 60m hurdles matches Barrington teammates Bobby Wind and Knight together . The top two seeds come in with times of 8.32 and 8.36, respectivelt.

Inthe triple jump, Trent Assenuga of St. John’s Prep is at No. 1 with his best of 46-3.5. Natick’s Matthew Acquah is the two seed with a PR of 44-8.75.

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