Meet Of Champions: Vigo Catala Among Stars On Saturday

Just about two hours earlier, Nataneal Vigo Catala had already put on a show with his impressive victory in the 300-meter dash at Saturday’s Meet of Champions.

That appeared to be just the opening act for what was in store for the Haverhill senior in the meet’s final event

With an insane anchor leg in the 4x400m relay, Vigo Catala made up a 30m gap in the final 100m of the race to power the Hillies to the win and a state-best of 3 minutes, 25.16 seconds, a mere .19 ahead of second-place Ayer Shirley. Comprising the remaining legs of the relay were Joel Ishiimwe Hannon Wipff, and Stephane Fevry.

Vigo Catala was able to catch Ayer Shirley’s anchor Arthur Ribeirio with just a few meters remaining. The Georgetown commit’s split – 48 seconds!

“He made up a lot of ground coming around that last turn,” Haverhill coach Mike McGuire said. “He really did. He got him in just the last two strides. It was pretty exciting.”

While Haverhill’s three other runners has strong legs with Ishiimwe running 51 seconds as the leadoff and Wipff and Fevery each splitting low 52-second legs, the Hillies were in fourth place and 40 meters behind the leaders when Vigo Catala got the baton.

McGuire thought his star runner had a slim chance of catching his rivals, but also felt that the gap between the No. 1 and his squad may be too big.

“With him anchoring, we always have a shot,” he said. “Today, I thought the distance (was too much) and he wouldn’t be able to catch them. I guess I learned my lesson not to doubt him.”

Vigo Catala’s stellar performance followed a defense of his 300m title. The Haverhill standout led four runners under 35 seconds with a triumphant 34.32. He was comfortably ahead of Lincoln Sudbury’s Nico Begic (second, 34.84), utilizing his outstanding closing speed to make it two straight in the 1.5-lapper.

“It was a fun race, a good race,” he said. “I didn’t get the time I expected but that’s why I don’t chase times. I got the win. It’s always the expectation to get the win.”

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Top seed Abby Desmarais of Framingham won the girls’ 300m with a time of 39.99. In the unseeded section prior to her heat, Sharon’s Nina Kyel-Aboagye broke into second with a time of 40-seconds flat. Dennis Yarmouth’s Breanna Braham (third, 40.05) and Wachusett’s Nyah Santana (fourth, 40.18) took the next two places.

Desmarais captured her first individual title after finishing second to Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s Kylee Bernard in 2023.

“I was hoping to PR today, which didn’t happen,” said the Flyers’ senior, who ran an all-time best of 39.61 to win last weekend’s Division 1 Championships. “I’m still happy with a sub 40.”

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Brockton’s Lucas Andrade (7.44) and Billerica’s Nyrah Joseph (8.26) raced to PRs and new state-leaders to win the respective boys’ and girls’ 55m hurdles. In the 55m dash, it was Wellesley’s Christopher Brooks (6.42) and Methuen’s Lauren Quarm (6.95) that came out on top.

For Quarm, she became the first MA runner to break seven seconds in the short dash since Buckingham Browne & Nichol’s alum Samirah Moody accomplished the feat with a winning time of 6.99 at the Northeast Invitational in 2021. Quarm moved past Moody and into the No. 3 spot all-time in Massachusetts with her time.

The Methuen senior admitted she was worried how she would perform at the biggest meet of the year. She came into Saturday’s race after placing second to Desmarais at the Div. 1 Championships with a previous best of 7.08.

“I was very scared prior to this meet and through the whole week,” she said. “Even when I stepped foot on the track, I was very scared and I was nervous. I thought I wasn’t going to do well at all. Last week, I did okay but didn’t do as well as I wanted to. Today, I proved to myself that I was good enough to win.”

Quarm was just ahead of defending titlist Sarah Claflin of Pembroke, who ran a PR of 7.01. Desmarais was third (7.08) and Wellesley’s Annie Comella was fourth (7.14).

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Comella, one of our state’s top sprinters and long jumpers since she was a ninth-grader, earned her first individual title at the Meet of Champions (formerly the All State Meet). She struck gold in the long jump where she soared to a distance of 18 feet, 2.5 inches. Lincoln Sudbury’s Gabrielle St. Pierre and Claflin were second and third, respectively, with identical leaps of 18-1.5.

Saint’s John’s Antonio Wiafe upset top seed Chamberlain Guthrie of CB&L in the boys’ long jump with a best of 22-7.75. Guthrie was second at 21-8.

“It feels really good,” he said. “I have been waiting for this for a while now.”

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Top-seeded Charlotte Tuxbury of Wellesley won the mile with her third sub five-minute effort of the season. The Red Raider senior led from the gun and improved on her state-leader with a time of 4:56.38. Belmont’s Dana Lehr was second (4:59.66), while Brookline’s Audrey Seeger was third (4:49.79). Tuxbury also anchored Wellesley’s winning 4x800m squad (9:27.74).

In the mile, Tuxbury ran negative splits the second half of the race. She clocked 2:25 for her last 800m.

“The plan coming in was definitely to run fast,” she said. “Our goal was to get to the 800 a little faster than we did. We wanted to go through in 2:25 (for the first 800) and we went through in like 2:31, so it was definitely not like I thought. But I was able to kick with 800 to go and still ran a decent time.”

Tuxbury has only been training since mid January. She missed the entire cross country season after breaking her foot in early September. The previous spring season, she finished second in the mile at the MOC with an all-time best of 4:55.89.

“Being able to continue the momentum from what I had last spring with this season, it’s definitely been super good, and lucky,” she said.

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Chris Larnard of Boston College High was all business in the boys’ mile. He blasted through the first 800m in 2:05 and held on to the finish, crossing the line in a PR of 4:14.01. Algonquin’s Stephen White was second in 4:19.54.

Larnard felt relaxed after his fast first half of the race.

“I felt as good as you should feel after the first 800 into a mile,”he said. “I think I lost a little focus right after that, about a 1,000 left, and I wasn’t resting as much as I would have liked. I wish I could have been a little more focused, but overall I’m happy with a PR.”

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Peabody’s Alex Jackson was a double-winner, sweeping the throwing events. He heaved the shot a winning distance of 58-3 and earned gold in the weight throw with a PR of 67-10, an effort that ranks No. 11 in the country.




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