Athletes rounding into form at MSTCA Track

NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Seekonk’s Andrew Caral, left, leads the pack of runners through a turn while competing in the 1-mile race during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Weymouuth’s Kacie To, right, leaves the start line while competing in the 55-meter dash during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Natick’s Emma Ford catches her breath after competing in the 1-mile race during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Milford’s Keith Sutton tightens the cleats on his running shoes as he prepares to compete in the 55-meter dash during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Milford’s Kerry O’Connor soars through the air while competing in the long jump during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Seekonk’s Andrew Caral, right, crosses the finish line in front of the pack of runners to win the 1-mile race during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Hopkinton’s Ethan Champlin soars through the air while competing in the long jump event during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Seekonk’s Andrew Caral, right, leads the pack of runners through a turn while competing in the 1-mile race during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Natick’s Emma Ford rounds a turn while competing in the 1-mile race during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)NORTON, MA – DECEMBER 19-SATURDAY: Murdock’s Brianna Bouchard, right, clears a hurdle while competing against Hopkinton’s Grace Prucher, left, in the 55-meter hurdle event during the MSTCA track meet at Wheaton College December 19, 2020, in Norton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)Show Caption of Expand
NORTON — In a year that has spelled uncertainty at every corner for the high school track community, Peabody speedster Jolene Murphy was happy just to be competing in Saturday’s MSTCA Speed & Distance Meet at Wheaton College.
The Tanners’ versatile sprinter had plenty of competition in the 300 meters, but was too much for the rest of the field down the final straightaway as she registered a speedy 41.10-second win. Murphy finished comfortably in front of runner-up Savannah Pineda’s 41.78 and the 41.92 turned in by Sadai Headley-Mawasi. Murphy kept her focus on the race and tried to forget the mask that all competitors had to wear as part of the coronavirus protocol. She is looking to get some races under her belt in case there is an outdoor season.
“I think they’re going to try their best to have an outdoor season,” said Murphy. “It was a little challenging with the mask. I was focused on the race and concentrated on that.”
Headley-Mawasi was the fastest out of the blocks in the 55 and raced to a 7.56 win to edge out Murphy, who was a step back with a 7.59.
Freshman phenom Marcus Reilly of Northbridge, who clocked a 4:12 mile as an eighth-grader, dropped down to the 600 and came away with an impressive win. Reilly had plenty of company on the bell lap, but surged into the lead and was still pulling away as he crossed the finish line in 1:26.15. Jack Murphy took second in 1:28.26 and Caleb Deane was third at 1:28.93.
Reilly said he went out a little too conservatively at the gun, but it worked out at the end. “It’s really hard with the mask, but I’m glad to get a race in,” he said. “I thought we were going out way faster than 27 in the first 200.”
Seekonk’s Andrew Cabral captured the mile once again after taking the event last Saturday at the Winterfest meet. Cabral turned away a challenge by Aidan Ross (second, 4:31.13) at the 100-meter mark and ran hard to the tape for a satisfying 4:28.13. The time was nearly 10 seconds faster than his performance the previous Saturday.
“I had someone to go in front of me and that was good,” said Cabral. “I knew from the beginning I wanted to do 33 (second) splits every 200. When (Ross) went by me at the 1,000, it really made me dig down. That race made me feel good. The mask makes it extremely difficult. It’s not terrible, but I’d rather not have it on.”
Tewksbury’s Makayla Paige looked smooth in her specialty, the 600, on the way to breaking the tape for an easy win in 1:38.17. Paige came back just 10 minutes later for a fifth-place finish against a solid field in the 300 with a time of 43.57.
Paige found the races run so close together a huge challenge. “The 600 and 300 were a lot harder than I expected,” Paige said. “Ten minutes isn’t a long time to recover. The first two laps of the 600 felt good then I got that hitting the wall feeling with 200 to go. It is good to feel that pain again, especially if I’m going to be running the 800.”
Paige has been racing to get stronger and believes the speed will just come naturally with her training. “I’d like to run a fast time, but I’m working on getting stronger,” she said. “I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle, strength-wise. I definitely want to get back into that top shape.”
Walpole’s Mia Costa, who missed her entire junior indoor season to a leg injury, outdueled Norton’s Isabella Pietrasiewicz for a solid 3:02.57 win in the 1,000. The Lancer standout crossed the line in 3:06.29 and Ashlynn Winn placed third in 3:06.90.
Costa was pleased with her first 1,000 race since her sophomore year. “I was really happy with it,” she said. “I haven’t run it in a long time and wanted to get a benchmark.”
Natick’s Emma Ford led from the start in the mile and pulled away from the field to win by more than 11 seconds in 5:26.20, just short of her personal best of 5:23. “I was trying to beat my PR and was really close,” Ford said. “I wanted to run from the front and pace myself.”
In the 55, Brockton’s Dourvens Bleus surged hard at the halfway point and blazed across the finish line with a new personal best of 6.54. Alex Arbogast clinched second in 6.69. Bleus has utilizing the treadmill for many of his workouts along with weights and practicing starts.
“I feel like I could have done better,” Bleus said. “I should have exploded out of the blocks.”
James Donahue had a big day on the track as he destroyed the 2-mile field to capture the event in a very swift 9:26.22. Chris Sullivan also broke 10 minutes, taking second in 9:55.57.

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