St. Mary’s T&F Team Blog #3

MONDAY: Senior media day and a typical pre-meet Monday.

It’s pre-meet Monday as we are getting into our routine. That means a few blocks, hurdles, handoffs, and an easy run, as we kickoff the season tomorrow at the McNiff Relays. We also had our seniors take photos for their senior posters we will get them in May at their last home meet!

TUESDAY: A successful day at the McNiff Relays!

On Tuesday, the St. Mary’s track team ventured to Bishop Fenwick High School to compete in the McNiff Relays, a meet dedicated to Margaret McNiff, a pioneer for girls’ track at Bishop Fenwick. Putting rivalries and point systems aside, the Spartans faced off against Bishop Fenwick, Archbishop Williams, and Cathedral.

With outstanding performances across the board from the Spartans, the trackletes and coaching staff had a blast at the meet, showing what track is all about. Despite the weather, which included a cloudy overcast and a slight breeze, nothing could be seen in the stadium except for smiles on the faces of runners, throwers, and hurdlers. 

Because the McNiff relays were the season’s first meet, first-meet jitters were prevalent in the Spartan tent. But, as Coach Smith always reminds his athletes, “You matter, and just do your best! That is all you can ask of yourself.” And that is exactly what the St. Mary’s track team did.

For the Spartan Spotlight from the meet, the 4×100 boys team came out on top for both their heat and the meet overall, which boosted the relay squad’s confidence for future meets. This team consisted of New Balance National athlete Justin Jennings, Brandon Cruz, Catholic Central League Indoor Track 55m Champion Ernie Panias, and Will Ross Peña. The Swedish Relay teams for both men and women also had great showings, with a number of them coming in the top three of their heats! Additionally, the men and women shot put throwers performed very well!

Another standout group today was the hurdlers, with the boys and the girls making a statement for their first time going over the 110s and 100s, respectively. Specifically, Mirabelle Calaunan for the girls and Damion Smith for the boys led the charge for the Spartans. Both of their times qualified them for the New Bedford Vocational High School meet in May! Congrats Mirabelle and Damion!

Coach D and Coach Smith were very proud of the Spartans’ effort and commitment to each event, even saying that “for the first meet of the season, this exceeded our expectations.” The results and smiles speak for themselves, showing that dedication at practice, team-bonding events, and good-ol’-fashion grit get the job done.

Concluding such a successful day at the McNiff relays, the Spartan sprinters, throwers, distance runners, and hurdlers got ice cream at Tredwell’s next door and returned to St. Mary’s. They certainly earned their day off this week and prepared for a fundraiser event on Thursday for My Brother’s Table and Media Day on Friday!

WEDNESDAY: Rest and Recharge!

Following the Spartans’ fantastic showing at the McNiff Relays on Tuesday, they definitely earned an off-day. They used it to rest and recover before Thursday’s fun teamwide My Brother’s Table fundraiser event! Both athletes and coaches were very proud of everyone’s performances at the meet and wanted to utilize the off-day to plan or rest for future workouts.

THURSDAY: Banding together for My Brother’s Table and a tactical session.

Thursday was a fun-filled day for the St. Mary’s track team. It included a collaborative ultra-marathon, a tactical training session, and a time of bonding and camaraderie among trackletes. 

The Spartans opened their Thursday practice with a successful team fundraiser event. My Brother’s Table is a local soup kitchen that addresses food insecurity in the North Shore by providing free meals to those in need. With the 53 mile Ultramarathon Fundraiser, Spartan trackletes sought pledges and donations, with many promising per lap. Through this fundraising effort and other volunteer opportunities to come, Coach Smith wants to emphasize the importance of giving back to the community as a team. 

Even on a rainy day, nothing could stop the fundraising effort. With the support of St. Mary’s staff, the marathon was moved into the school, with a 400-meter course laid out all throughout the three floors of the building. With a countdown from 10, the marathon began with energy and excitement. Every athlete ran at least one lap, many repeating the course multiple times to help reach the team mileage goal. With the help of lap talliers Eliana and Chance, the team reached 56 miles, 3 above the goal! 

The day didn’t stop there for the track team. After the marathon, Coach Smith sought to make use of the extra time and provide the sprinters with a good, foundational workout. With the demonstrations of Coach Smith and Coach Brett, sprinters worked on form with a light plyometric workout. Though some of the exercises brought a laugh to the trackletes, Coach Smith emphasized the importance of speed over basic training.

Under the direction of Coach D, the distance runners preserved through the rain and ran laps around the school. Throwers had an especially long day, completing an upper-body-focused workout in the weight room from 5-630. Coach Calie led this workout for the throwers and saw nothing short of “discipline, focus, and a mindset for a team who want to win together” for the Spartans. A cooldown lap around the school marked the end of a successful day for the track team. 

FRIDAY: Feeding the cats and looking snazzy.

On a day full of sunshowers, the Spartans got into their uniforms for a fun media day at Manning Field! Grades 6-11 took photos with our amazing cameraman Bobby in between reps, some posing with props and some taking action shots while cheesin’ at the camera. Because of the time constraints, the Spartans will continue their media day extravaganza this upcoming week!

Other than taking photos, St. Mary’s trackletes jumped into a variety of workouts, with the hurdlers getting in great acceleration and trail leg practice, sprints focusing on handoffs, and a feed the cats workout that dealt with top-end speed. Distance completing a tough, signature Coach D workout, and throwers working on shot put and discus.

The hurdlers, led by Coach Brett, began with some hurdle walkovers to prime the hips and legs for high hurdle training, followed by block start practice. Here, Coach Brett really emphasized getting in 8 steps to the first hurdle, as “it gives the runners an edge getting over the first hurdle in the race.” The hurdlers concluded their short but high-intensity acceleration workout with several 3-hurdle reps. 

Throwers focused on shot put and discus, continuing to show their determination and grit and chucking either the metal ball or frisbee as far as they could! The distance runners had their hands full with a brutal 12×400 workout. Despite the difficulty, they put their heads down and completed the workout, staying in groups to create that sense of communal competition Coach D loves to see in his distance athletes. Following their reps, they did a long cooldown stretching session and even included some of the sprinters. 

Speaking of sprinters, Coach Smith worked closely with the 4×100 teams to perfect the “blind handoff” before upcoming meets. Both teams had a great showing in the McNiff relays, with the boys winning first place! Despite the great performances, there is always room to get better, and handoffs “build team chemistry and result in lower times, which are two of the only things a coach looks for in a team,” Coach Smith says. The other sprinters completed a “Feed the Cats” workout with Coach Calie, which primarily targeted top-end speed, a critical component for strong 100m, 200m, and 400m runners. We recorded, ranked, and published 10m fly times using Freelap technology, with the athletes chipped up for an accurate, fully electronic time, so kids can challenge themselves to push themselves. “When we are doing top speed, it is important that all reps are just that: top speed,” Coach Smith explains. “We are spiked up, chipped up, and fired up, since we are only do 3-4 reps and 30-40 meters maximum on these days.” 

Following the workout, the sprinters united the team, and everyone ran their 400m cool down together. A stretch followed this while some athletes were still getting their pictures taken. Overall, Friday was an extremely great and productive training session for all groups, filled with smiles!

SATURDAY: Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Due to terrible weather on Saturday, the planned meet was canceled, and the St. Mary’s track team had a day off. This gave them extra time to recover before a hard but fun week of practice and a home meet on Tuesday! 

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