Track team places at Nationals

By Joe Maher
Published: March 2011

From March 11 to March 13, South sent a total of nine athletes to the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York. The track and field event brought top competitors from all over the country, among whom were South athletes.

Due to production from veteran runners and younger talent, the Boys’ and Girls’ Indoor Track teams continued to strongly represent what Athletic Director Scott Perrin calls “one of the powerhouse programs in the nation.”

Both the Boys’ and the Girls’ teams sent a relay, as well as several runners who excelled in their individual events, to the competition. The Girls’ team sent four runners, including two freshmen, to the championship.

All of the female South representatives participated in the relay, a sprint medley relay consisting of a two 200 meter legs as well as 400 and 800 meter legs.

The girls’ relay placed sixth in the country. O’Keefe commented that while sprinters and distance runners usually train separately, the experience allowed the different areas of the team “to come together and do something special.”

The relay included freshman Lizzie Fineman and senior Madeline Frieze, both of whom have had siblings who also have attained this gold standard among high school athletes. The 400 meter leg was run by freshman Alekhya Chaparala, but despite the youth of the relay, O’Keefe was not worried.

“[I was] very confident because I had seen our freshmen improve and really become competitors over the indoor season,” O’Keefe said. She also ran the girls’ one-mile race, placing ninth in the country and solidifying her position as one of the nation’s premier high school runners.

The Boys’ team sent five representatives, led by senior and captain David Melly, and including freshman Allen Shiu, who ran in the boys’ freshman one-mile race. Shui placed twenty-third overall in the country, and ran very close to his personal best.

“[I am] so proud of him for stepping up to such a huge race while still relatively new to the sport at a high school level, and his great performance [is] just another sign of things to come [in the future of the program],” Melly said.

The boys also entered a sprint medley relay, placing nineteenth in the country. The relay was a time of team bonding, as the distance and sprinter members did not usually get to run together “[It was] fun to work with sprinters, who [we do not] usually train or compete with,” Melly said.

The experience is one that junior Youssef Elkorchi will never forget. “[It] opened up my eyes to the true talent of the nation’s elite athletes,” he said.

Unfortunately, Melly came down with a cold on Saturday night, and was unable to run his best in the two-mile race the following day. Melly still considered the trip to be more or less a success, as he ran the anchoring leg of the team’s relay.

The Girl’s team, coached by Steve McChesney during the regular season, did little extra to prepare for the meet, as the main focus of their season was the in-state competition.“[We] looked at Nationals as a great opportunity and experience to add onto an already successful season,” O’Keefe said.

One of the more curious aspects of the Nationals is that the meet takes place out of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s season, resulting in it not being sanctioned, forcing the students to compete outside of the school’s authority.

For this reason, South athletes must run under the track club, Newton Centre Athletics, and are legally unable to represent South at the meet. Unfortunately, this also means that the students are unable to have their usual coach there to give them support. The athletes were instead instructed by John Huth, the coach for Newton Centre Athletics.

Newton South’s Indoor track and Field team once again managed to strongly perform at the highest level of high school sports, and the team is always looking forward.

“[The team] is a joy to watch,” Perrin said. “They always just keep reloading and keep going.”

Perrin is hopeful that this tradition of track excellence will continue as today’s underclassman carry on the tradition of hard work, leading to a new generation of champions.

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