Dirt Track Invite Recap
The track and field teams of Conant, ConVal and Mascenic, along with competitors from Boynton, Jaffrey Rindge and South Meadow, threw down for local bragging rights at the Jim Landry Oval at the Mascenic Sports Complex. Competing with these local teams were also the teams from Hinsdale, Bishop Brady and Derryfield School. ConVal would come out on top with the most points score on both the men’s and women’s sides, but through the more than 69 different contested heats and flights, it would be easy to see that everyone came out a winner.
First of all, the Mascenic home meet had some uncharacteristic good luck on a warm, sunny day with enough wind to keep the late season black flies at bay. Usually held in wet conditions, this meet made it easy to relax and take in the events of the day without huddling under a tent hoping for your event to get canceled.
Things got off early, before the meet beginning with the 4×1600 meter race pitting the distance squads from Mascenic, Conant and ConVal against each other. Dakota Somero got things rolling for Mascenic, opening up a gap by the handoff that Mascenic would not give up. The winning time of 20 minutes, 53 seconds wouldn’t break any records but the early morning winds would keep the times in the distance races a little slow. “The wind on the back straight was punishing,” remarked Somero, “You practically came to a stand still.” While the strong early morning winds did abate as the day went on, athletes forged on full steam ahead.
Next up was Valhalla’s Citizen’s Mile, free and open to the public. A number of the coaches also took part in the race and a battle at the front developed between ConVal coach Lance Flamino and JR resident Chris Bernier with Flamino overtaking Bernier in the last 200 meters to win in 5 minutes, 5 seconds to Bernier’s 5 minutes, 10 seconds. Third went to Derryfield’s James Porter, fourth to CV’s Curt Martens, fifth to Boynton’s Nick Hill and sixth to Conant’s Avery Fuentes. Valhalla had its own presence in the race with local youth runners Reino Crawford and Avery Cormier competing as well. “I was so nervous,” said Cormier, who at 6 was the youngest competitor on the day.
Many coaches use the Mascenic meet as an opportunity to try different events or take the opportunity to explore events they may have tried once before. This was evident in the first official event of the meet when 22 heats of the 100 meter dash took place. Also noticeable was the absence of some athletes in their marquee events, but their names recognizable in the results other places. For instance, the distance duo of Claire Veverka and Rachel Hurley show up in the discus, shot put and javelin, along with two of D3’s best in class in the Banish sisters participated in the 3200 meter event. Mascenic’s DJ Turner competed against his brother Gabe, in the javelin. The first time throwing for DJ and only the second time for Gabe. “He threw better than me,” reflects the older Turner, “but he’s the thrower in the family. I think I’ll stick to running.”
While its likely no one is going to run their fastest time on the last remaining dirt track in use for high school track, the competition is there and the racing is still as compelling to watch. “This is my first year running track. I’ve got some of the best distance kids in the state on my team. I entered the 3200 to get a feel for it, before I stepped up to race it. I started out at tempo pace but felt good and found myself competing for the win,” said Robert McLain, Mascenic’s #6 man on the depth charts from the 2017 State Champion cross country team. “I was real happy with my race and surprised to come away with a win.”
Another twist in the Mascenic lineup is the addition of some relay events not seen in high school or middle school competition. While it’s not uncommon to see the DMR (distance medley relay) and the SMR (spring medley relay) in collegiate competition, it’s pretty rare throughout the state. “Our facility is a bit unconventional in this day and age,” remarks Mike Smith, Mascenic’s head track and cross country coach and the meet director as well. “We started doing the 4×200 meter relay in place of the 300 hurdles seeing as the track isn’t marked for it. We wanted there to be a similar break in the schedule for the competing athletes. Each year since it seems we’ve added to our relay offerings. It allows the kids to do something different and works real well for the smaller schools who might not be able to put together 4 athletes that can specialize in the usual relay distances. And it’s fun.”
And fun is definitely what this meet is about. Coaches and athletes alike remarked throughout the day how much they enjoyed the nature of the meet. “This is my favorite meet,” stated CV distance great Evan Coyne, as he cheered on his teammates in the 100 meter dash, after having just completed it. “It’s so much fun.”