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The Yankee Express

Northbridge Boys Relay Runners Headed to States

4x4 Relay team. Photo submitted

BY Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer

Northbridge track and field has been on a downslide over the past two decades, but this winter and spring season the Rams have been on an upswing, setting five new school records and having 12 athletes qualify for the state meet. Most notably, the boy’s 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams will be taking their talents to the State Tournament this spring season. 

                                                 4x1 Relay team. Photo submitted

This season, Sean Williams, Tanner Haden, Anthony Lippolis, and Mo Daigle not only broke a 21-year-old school record with a time of 45.6 in the 4 x 100 relay, but they also punched their ticket to participate in the States. Remarkably, Williams also set the school record in the 55m dash and was a part of the record-setting 4 X 200 relay with Zachary Tevepaugh, Jason Bolduc, and Ryan Bedigian, this winter, breaking records that stood for 24 and 14 years respectively. Seamus White is the team’s alternate in this event and is also competing individually in the triple jump at states. In addition, another jumper, Jacob Boone will be heading to the states in the high jump. 
Alex Mazzarelli, Nick Thomas, Sean Williams, and Dylan Reilly ran a 3:42.53 in the 4 x 400 relay to earn themselves a spot at States. Thomas has worked hard all season but will be the team’s alternate at states as Lippolis, has stepped up his speed as of late, earning him a place on the 4 X 400 relay team and unlocking a qualifying time in the 400m dash for states.

4x1 State team. Photo submitted


 “Anthony’s time could help to shave at least 3 seconds off of the relay’s overall time,” Boys’ head coach Candice Colón said. “With their state qualifying time, they are only 1.7 seconds off of the school record, so it’s quite possible that they break it at the state meet.” 
Also, of note, Reilly who recently captured the 800- and 1-mile school records (one of which stood for nearly 50 years) is one of the best runners in the state division and will be contending for a top spot in both the 800 and 1 mile at the state meet. 
In general, the entire Northbridge track & field team has been part of something bigger this year. 
 “People tend to think of track and field as an individual sport, but there is actually a huge team aspect to it,” the head coach said. “The entire team needs to pull its weight to be successful; everyone needs to show up each day and be accountable for their work ethic while showing unwavering support for one another.”
At the start of the winter season, the team was in need of a coach and in stepped Colón as the new head coach. Now, along with the exceptional teamwork of Paul Leonard, the girl’s head coach, and assistant coach/jumps coach Amanda Kelly; as well as volunteer coaches Joe Strazzula (throws) and Paul Reilly (distance and Northbridge’s head cross country coach), and the support of their Athletic Director, Jamie Marcoux, the Rams track and field program is once again beginning to flourish. 
Upon Coach Colón’s entrance as the new head coach, her athletes thought some of the new technical work she introduced to be on the strange side, but now that they’ve had the time to work with her and see their progress, they realize that perhaps it isn’t so strange.
 “Originally the 4x100 team thought that I was crazy when I talked to them about the technical skills necessary for improvement, especially related to their handoffs. I was breaking everything down for them and although they eventually bought into it all, some of them originally looked at me like I had five heads,” she said. “But our athletes have embraced the process, worked hard, and are beginning to do things they may not have imagined possible, which is an honor to watch and be a part of.”
Success like this helps to reignite the spark in the program, but targeted recruiting efforts are also paramount, therefore the coaching staff also started to focus on recruiting especially for athletes that were not participating in any spring sports. 
“We have had success getting some kids to take part in the program, but we still need to capture more kids,” volunteer coach Strazzulla said. “Taking part in the large division of the SWCL we have to go up against some perennial track teams, so it’s still a big mountain to climb.”
According to Strazzulla, the Rams’ outdoor track team used to be a big deal in the 1990’s, but things fell off in the early 2000’s and the team wasn’t quite the same, but the Northbridge coaching staff is working hard to revive the program.
 “The school re-did the track with 8 straight away lanes and 6 all around; it’s a state-of-the-art track,” he said. “We have a solid group of athletes who have stuck with it and they are improving and that means the world to me that we are on the right track.”
“The relay team’s success is a pleasant surprise; these boys are very nonchalant, calm, cool, and collected on a daily basis, but when they found out that they qualified and were going to the State tournament they were pumped up and super excited,” the volunteer coach said. “It’s a really big accomplishment for all of them and although they will be up against a lot of prolific programs in Division 6, I believe that both relays have a chance of being in the top 6.”
    Heading into the State tournament the 4x 100 is reasonably seeded however the 4x 400 is seeded behind their potential so they will have to work hard out of a slower heat. Regardless of seed, when it comes to this time of the year, anything can happen!
Running in the Division 6 State Meet over the Memorial Day weekend the 4x4 team not only broke the school record posting a 3:34.61, which eclipsed the old Northbridge record by 5.3 seconds, the foursome also medaled finishing in 6th place coming out of slower heat which they had to run all by themselves.
“I can’t imagine what they would have done out of the fastest heat, where they truly belonged,, having competition,” the Rams coach said. “Needless to say, I am beyond excited for them!”
The 4x100 team, consisting of Daigle , White, Haden and Williams was not able to medal during the tournament, but they did lower their school record (45.4) in the event.  Reilly medaled in the 800 finishing fourth (1:59.52) and in the 1 mile, where he was eighth (4:31.53) while lowering his records in both events. 
The rest of the participating Rams held their own and gained valuable experience at this level for when they return next spring.