Top Five Storylines At MIAA Meet Of Champions – Boys

Where do we start? Where do we end? With 19 events and a whole lot of talent, it’s not easy. On Thursday and Saturday at Fitchburg State University, our state’s best will provide the entertainment for all us track & field enthusiasts at the MIAA Meet of Champions. Records will be broken and we’re sure a few hearts, too. Unfortunately, that often comes with the territory. Taking a look through the entry list, we found a host of scenarios that could occur at the two-day meet.

While we know there’s plenty more, here’s our top five storylines for the boys’ meet.



It’s All About The 400m

Just like our title says, it will be all about the 400-meter dash this weekend. In different varieties of the one-lapper, we could have some memorable races. As of now, our top 15 seeds in the straight 400m have broken 50 seconds. That’s an impressive field. But it’s at the top, where the real action will occur. The No. 1 seed is All American Natanael Vigo Catala of Haverhill with a season best of 47.85 from the MVC Championships on May 18. Vigo Catala was a DNF in this event at the Division 1 Championships last weekend and the rumor is it was a hamstring issue. If he’s healthy and ready on race day, he’ll be tough to beat. The Georgetown-bound senior won his second straight 300m title at the MOC this past winter and was third in the 400m at the Nike Indoor Nationals in NYC. Vigo Catala always comes to race and will need to against the level of competition he’ll face on Saturday. Three more in this race have broken 49 second with 2-3-4 seeds Giovanni Joseph of Marshfield (48.52), Noah Mulligan of Norwell (48.57) and Excel Academy’s Mohamed Mehaya (48.91). There’s also Somerset Berkley’s Camden Rose, who looked awfully strong in winning the Div. 3 title in 49.06 last Saturday. There’s a bunch more in the low-to-mid 49-second range. This race could get insane. How about the 400m hurdles? The No. 1 seed is recent state record-holder McKenna O’Hare Gibson, who took down the five-year-old mark with a sizzling 53.19 at the Div. 1 meet. Seriously, there’s a chance he could be pushed to a sub-53 with the level of talent he’ll face on Thursday, most of whom are the same individuals that he raced against last weekend – Acton-Boxborough’s Noah Stegmeier (54.15), Xaverian Brothers’ Mitchell Kisgen (54.23), and Westford Academy’s Ryan Kyle (54.74). And, of course, we also have the meet-ending 4x400m, an event that always generates excitement no matter what year. The state record is 3:18.04 by Northampton in 2017. The meet record is 3:18.51 by Natick in 2016. Both marks are in jeopardy of going down on Saturday. The No. 1 seed and the team we feel has the best chance to erase those records is Xaverian Brothers, who come into the meet with a best of 3:19.51 from last week’s Div. 1 meet. From that race, the Hawks had no margin for error, fighting off gallant efforts by Newton North (3:20.14) and Acton Boxborough (3:21.09). They’ll both be back on the line again and will have certainly have revenge on their minds. This could be a race for the ages. At the very least, it will provide a fitting close to what we anticipate will be a memorable two days at Fitchburg State.


Epic Deuce, Perhaps?

You heard it here. We guarantee the one-year-old meet record of 8:59.29 by St. John’s Prep alum Nathan Lopez is going down this weekend. Lopez’s incredible state mark of 8:44.54 from the New Balance Nationals might be a different story, at least this weekend. But trust us, with the elite runners that will answer the gun on Thursday, we could have several under nine minutes with an outside chance for a sub 8:50 by our winner if this race does not turn tactical. The No. 1 seed is Nashoba Regional’s Adam Balewicz, who has already gone sub-9 with his triumphant 8:59.79 from the Weston Twilight Invitational a few weeks ago. Behind him in the seedings are Westford Academy teammates Paul Bergeron and Jack Graffeo, our 1-2 finishers at the Div. 1 meet with times of 9:00.89 and 9:04.07, respectively. Like the indoor season, both have taken a well-calculated approach to their spring campaign and appear to be peaking at just the right time. Bergeron, who was second in the 5K at the New Balance Nationals this past winter, has a best of 8:51 for the deuce. Graffeo had a huge PR with his low nine-minute effort last weekend. They’ll likely work together with hopes of another 1-2 finish. There’s also Oliver Ames’ Brendan Thomas, who was second to Balewicz at Weston with an all-time best of 9:06.77. If this group passes through the mile under 4:30, you know they’re not fooling around and we’re in for a race of epic proportion.

Throwing In The Right Direction

We’re not sure why, but it appears out state’s No. 5 all-time best thrower in the javelin will not be competing this weekend. Chelmsford’s Gable Gray, who won the Div. 1 title last week and had a career best and nation No. 8 toss of 206-3, was not listed in the entries. With the gifted tenth-grader not among the field, we could have a battle between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds this weekend, Walpole’s Matthew St. Cyr and Minechaug’s Hunter Corthell. St. Cyr has a best of 190-1, while Corthell has done 188-3. We already have one shot-putter over 60 feet. How about two? It could happen. Peabody’s Alex Jackson is the top seed with his best of 61-1.25. Amesbury’s Aiden Donovan was just a foot from the milestone a few weeks ago with his first-place toss of 59-0 at the Cape Ann League Championship. He won the Div. 5 title last week at 57-3.5.


Relay? Are You Kidding Me?

We already talked about the 4x400m. How about the other two relays? In the 4x100m, 12 have gone under 43 seconds with North Andover (42.20) and Needham (42.24) holding the top two spots. Surprisingly, Div. 2 winner Wellesley is not in the race. The Raiders clocked a state best of 42.07 to take their crown. In the 4x800m, five teams have broken the eight-minute barrier with Brookline (7:56.47), Cambridge Rindge & Latin (7:56.97), Lowell (7:58.49), Newton North (7:59.46) and Winchester (7:59.65) holding that distinction.


Might As Well Jump!

In the last five years, the state has had 11 athletes exceed 23 feet in the long jump. Four of them will be competing this weekend in what could be one of our most competitive long jumps in recent history. Holders of those 23-footers are Westford’s Ryan Kyle (23-8), Saint John’s Antonio Waife (23-6.5), Quaboag’s Owen Stevens (23-4), and Acton-Boxborough’s Christopher Adamcheck (23-1). We also can’t forget Mansfield’s Chamberlain Guthrie and Natick’s Dylan Weddle, who are both an inch from the mark with identical bests of 22-11.

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