Tewksbury’s Paige set state and national records with her 600 masterpiece.
ROXBURY – On Friday night, the Merrimack Valley Conference was well represented at the Eastern Mass Division 3 Track-and-Field Championships. Between the girls and the boys meets, the Billerica boys finished second as a team, while, three individuals combined for four first place finishes, while three other relay teams won as well.
While the Billerica boys and girls teams had fantastic nights, the meet once again belonged to Tewksbury High junior Makayla Paige. She has owned the top time in the state in six different events throughout the 2019-20 indoor season and just six days before the state meet, she won the 600-meter race at the prestigious Millrose Games in New York, competing against the top runners in the entire country.
On Friday, she won both the 600 and 300-meter races – in a span of a half hour – and her 600 time of 1:29.70 shattered the meet record. Even better, it also stands as the current No. 1 time in the country today, and it’s also the No. 1 performance all-time at the Reggie Lewis Center, in Massachusetts and in New England track history.
“It was really painful to run this race from beginning to the end,” she said. “I went out a little harder than normal. It was a tough race.”
Paige finished almost nine full seconds better than runner-up Jenna Gilman of Oliver Ames, who was at 1:38.29 and just shy of 13 seconds better than the eighth place finisher.
“I really (try to work) on having that mental toughness,” she said. “I feel that no matter when you run, you never know what to expect and you never know where the other runners are and if they are right behind you.”
A half-hour later, she came back and won the 300 with a time of 40.42 seconds.
The other individual first place finish came from Billerica’s Nicole Anderson in the 1,000 meters. She was able to edge out a close friend, Emma Sullivan of Shepard Hill Regional, at the finish line. Anderson finished at 2:51.07 and Sullivan was at 2:51.57, and both shattered the meet record set in 2014 by Dracut’s Karina Shepard of 2:56.90.
“I wasn’t expecting to be leading it (so once I was), I decided to push it,” said Anderson. “When we had two laps left, she was right behind me and I was like ‘oh my gosh, this is going to be so hard’. All throughout that fourth lap, I could feel her right there. She made me really nervous and I just knew that I had to push a little bit more.”
Anderson then came back later on in the meet and joined her sister Deidra, Hannah Doherty and Emily Burdick to win the 4×800 relay with a time of 9:43.83. Doherty was also third in the two-mile at 11:10.27 and Deidra Anderson was also fourth in the mile at 5:20.12.
Also scoring for the Indians included seventh-place finishes by Sydney Diorio in the 600 (1:42.31), Paige Murphy in the long jump (16-01.00) and Alyssa Caputo in the shot put (31-04), while Brianna Martini was eighth in the shot put throwing 30-08.50.
The Billerica girls finished third as a team, following Hopkinton and Milford. Tewksbury finished tenth.
On the boys side, the Indians finished second as a team with 44 points, well behind a potent Stoughton team, which finished with 76.
Senior Stephen Harris led the way for Billerica. He won the 300 meters at 34.33 seconds, and then came back and pulled out an incredible come from behind win at the finish line as the anchor leg of the winning 4×200 relay, joining Rodrigo Freitas, William West and Ryan D’Agostino. The four of them combined for a time of 1:31.86 seconds, which broke the meet record of 1:32.19 set by Bishop Feehan in 2012.
“It’s been so much fun working with these guys in all of the practices and all of the hand-offs that we have done,” said Harris.
Thomas Dinsmore was also second in the 1,000 meters at 2:32.90 and Freitas was also fourth in the 300 at 36.44 seconds.
The other first place came from the 4×800 relay team of Gachau Kabugu, Brandon Marion, John Holden and Dinsmore, who ran a collective time of 8:19.04.
Tewksbury was led by senior Zach LaLonde, who was third in the 55-meter hurdles at 7.58 seconds and fifth in the 300 at 36.82 seconds. He then continued this busy day as he was also a part of the eighth place 4×200 relay along with Alex Arbogast, Alex Lacerda and Neftali Mercedes, who had a combined time of 1:34.37.
Arbogast was also fifth in the 55-meter dash at 6.67 seconds. Also, Thomas Barinelli was sixth in the long jump at 20-07.25 and seventh in the high jump clearing 5-10 and Gustavo Tizotti was eighth in the two-mile at 9:58.05.