Big Weekend For Bay Staters At Nike & New Balance

With the New Balance Nationals (NBN), Nike Indoor Nationals (NIN) and the NCAA Division 1 Indoor Championships taking place, track & field enthusiasts like us were in their glory this past weekend.

With the three meets on the docket, it also creates a ginormous tasks to try and sift through all the results and find the top performances from our local athletes. We’re going to do our best to provide a justifiable wrap-up of all the great happenings that occurred during four days of some exciting competition here in Boston with New Balance and and down in New York City with Nike.

Next up for a few of our diehards is the adidas Nationals in VA. Yes, there is three national high school competitions held on the east coast each winter. But that’s a conversation for another day.

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A small contingent headed off to the Big Apple for the NIke Indoor Nationals in NYC. It was a small one that made a big impact.

Haverhill’s Nataenal Vigo Catala proved he’s one of the country’s best for 400 meters. The Georgetown-bound senior raced to an indoor best of 47.94 seconds to place third overall and earn All-American status. In the semifinal finals, he clocked 48.01.

Alex Jackson of Peabody also made it to the podium. The state’s top shot-putter placed fifth in his specialty with a heave of 60 feet, 5.75 inches. The Peabody junior was also 17th in the weight throw with a distance of 62-11.50.

In the shuttle hurdle relay, Milton’s quartet of Zakai Perkins, Chase Nixon, Osamudiamen Odion-Ukpedor and Abdallah Hassen combined for a time of 33.34. That effort earned them eighth overall in the Championship event.

Brookline clocked the second fastest time in the state in the distance medley relay. The foursome of Altamo Aschkenasy, Andrew Bamberg, Cameron Walter and Kailas Ciatto combined for a time of 10:21.16 to take tenth overall.

In the SMR, East Longmeadow was also tenth with the squad of Dominick Gamelli, Nolan Moore, Vincent Luu and Charles Klatka timed in 3:40.03.

Whitinsville Christian’s Avery Glidden and Dennis Yarmouth’s Breanna Braham went sub-58 in the 400m, both with PR efforts. Glidden was 12th overall in 57.64. Not too far behind was Braham, who crossed the line in 57.77.

North Andover was tenth (22:05.01) in the 4xMile Relay with the quartet of Nicole Kroon, Luna Prochazkova, Hannah Shea and Erika Wojocik running the legs.

MA athletes and relay teams also came through with some strong performances in the Emerging Elite events at Nike.

Winchester’s Caroline Herlihy, who was fifth at the New England’s a week earlier, won the EE shot with a PR of 40-3.25, her first time over the 40-foot mark.

Worcester Tech was second in the EE 4x400m with a time of 3:26.65. That effort tied the team of Michael Gyimah, MIchael Mireku, Carlton Davidson and Cyprian Ojatabu with Milton for No. 4 in the state. Cyprian also broke 23 seconds in the EE 200m with a solid 22.79 clocking. Pembroke’s Gabe Lamar was just ahead with a 22.65 best.

Norton’s Jillian Strynar was seventh in the EE 60m with a time of 7.75. She was also third in the EE 200m at 25.52.

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Closer to home at the New Balance Nationals, we had a good number of athletes compete this past weekend. The first two days, the meet was held at the Reggie Lewis Center. Day 3 on Sunday was at the TRACK at new balance.

Twenty runners broke 15 minutes and a total of 40 averaged five minute pace for the Championship 5K on Saturday night. The biggest noise came from Daniel Simmons of American Fork (AK), who simply annihilated the national record with an eye-popping 13:38.86, 18 seconds under the previous mark. What certainly shouldn’t get overshadowed is the performance of Westford Academy’s Paul Bergeron. In only his second race this winter, Bergeron broke his own state record with a time of 14:14.57. Teammate Jack Graffeo was part of the sub-15 club, taking tenth overall in 14:49.17.

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The Bay State is starting to make some noise in the weight throw lately. North Reading’s Abigail Lilley made the biggest noise at New Balance. The Hornets’ senior bested her own school record with a mammoth toss of 52-6.5 to place fourth overall. Lilley’s effort was a five-foot PR and was less than two feet shy of the national champion in just her second year tossing the implement. As a junior in 2023, her best was 36-7.75.

Belmont’s Ellie Shea of Emerging Elite was eighth in the Championship Mile with a time of 4:48.41. Wellesley’s Charlotte Tuxbury placed 14th in PR of 4:55.08.

The boys’ mile featured a third-place finish from Northbridge’s Marcus Reilly, who was timed in 4:06.12. The race was won by Trinity Academy’s (KS) senior Clay Shively with a meet record of 4:00.47. Littleton’s Bona Bradshaw was 19th overall with a best of 4:19.77. Reilly also acted as the rabbit in a record-breaking performance from Drew Griffith in the two mile. The Butler (PA) senior and Notre Dame commit smashed the national record with a time of 8:34.91.

Brookline had two impressive performances in the boys’ relays. The Warriors earned All American in the 4x800m where they were fifth overall in a best and new school record of 7:50.15. Brookline was also 14th in the 4xMile with a time of 17:56.5. Wellesley (21st, 18:07.95), Algonquin (22nd, 18:09.22) and Natick (32nd, 18:28.07) also fared well in the event.

Two of our athletes made it to the podium in the girls’ pentathlon with Franklin’s Sarah Dumas taking third (3,449 points) and North Reading’s Giuliano Ligor (3,427 points) placing fifth overall.

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Framingham was 11th overall in the girls’ Sprint Medley Relay with a state best of 4:07.46. Wachusett (20th, 4:10.20) and Westford Academy (26th, 4:12.20) ran the No. 2 and No. 4 times in MA with their respective finishes. In the 4x400m, Wachusett, the recent New England champion, was 30th overall with a time of 4:01.24. Framingham was 31st at 4:01.55.

Wellesley ran the state fastest time in the girls’ 4x800m with a time of 9:24.48. Needham (16th, 9:36.51) and Newton South (22nd, 9:43.26) also had quality efforts.

Hopkinton was the top MA squad in the boys’ shuttle hurdle relay, The Hillers combined for a state best of 31.45 to finish 13th overall. Marshfield was 16th in the DMR at 10:28.39.

In the 60m dash, Wellesley’s Christopher Brooks and Andover’s Jason DeJesus both broke seven seconds with Brooks recording a best of 6.89 and DeJesus timed in 6.94. Brooks also blazed to a 21.96 effort in the 200m to finish 25th overall.

State-leader Algonquin was 30th in the girls’ 4x200m with a time of 1:45.51. Lowell (32nd, 1:45.98) and North Reading (37th, 1:46.26) also cracked the top 40.

Acton Boxborough’ Ajay Raina ran 1:56.67 to place 49th among more than 100 runners in the Championship 800m.

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