The Red Raiders repeat as boys indoor track state team champions and win their third title in school history.
If you have paid any attention to high school track-and-field over the last year-plus, you have seen a number of outstanding athletes from the Merrimack Valley Conference, who proved on Saturday that they are not just among the very best in the state, but in the history of the sport in Massachusetts and New England.
On the boys side, senior Richmond Kwaateng of Lowell once again put on a show that won’t be repeated anytime soon. He helped lead the Red Raiders to their second straight All-State Team Championship title (and third in program history along with 2013) with first places in the 55-meter dash (6.37 seconds) and long jump (22-11.75), while he was also part of the second-place 4×200 relay team along with Aaron Morris, Franco Recto and Jalen Dibbles with a combined time of 1:31.24.
He scored 22 points on his own as Lowell won with 46.5, beating out a very good Wellesley team, which finished with 42.
“Richmond is Richmond and we never would have won this meet without him,” said Lowell head coach Scott Ouellet. “No one will ever win a meet like this without having a kid like Richmond on their team. That’s the first part of the formula, find a Richmond and then build around.
“I don’t think there’s been many, if at all, better than him (in a very long time), especially with his versatility. He’s the state record holder in the dash. He holds the all-time best time in the state and he’s like fourth all-time in the history of New England. And his long jump is not the best all-time but he’s among the top ten ever in the state.”
Lowell had just a half-point lead with three events left and Kwaateng’s 10 points in the long jump. That as well as the huge fifth-place finish by the 4×800 team allowed Lowell to get some breathing room and eventually close out the title.
“We had to scratch and claw (throughout the day),” said Ouellet. “At this level, the margin of error is very small, very small. That’s for everybody. We scored 46.5 points and coming into this meet, I thought if we got 35 points we would have a chance (to win it), if we got 40 we would have a really good chance and it ended up turning out that we needed 43 to win it, but got 46.5. I’m proud of the kids for sure.”
Kwaateng started his day out in impressive fashion, equaling last week’s time of 6.37 seconds in the 55-meter dash, which is the best all time in Massachusetts and fourth all-time in NE history.
“It was really tight (finish) and I expected that,” said Kwaateng. “Jonas (Clarke of South Hadley) is an excellent runner and he’s only a sophomore. He definitely pushed me, right through the line. This means a lot because it’s my first time being an all-state champion, so it’s definitely a blessing.”
Kwaateng came back later to finish first in the long jump at 22-11.75 before taking part in the relay race. The other scorers for the team include Luis Cadime, who was third in the shot put throwing 51-08.50, Samuel Mutiso, who was fifth in the 55-meter hurdles at 7.59, Recto, who was sixth in the 55-meter dash at 6.60 and Dibbles, who tied for seventh in the jump at 6-4. Finally, the 4×800 relay team of Juan Giron, Joeben Jacobs, David Vandi and Ricky Thyne were fifth at 8:05.09.
Lawrence had an outstanding day, finishing seventh as a team. Eddy Gonzalez led the way with a second-place finish in the long jump at 22-02.25 and then was helped out by Jordany Volquez, who broke a school record in the 55-meter hurdles at 7.51 seconds, and Jerimil German, who was fourth in the dash at 6.56 seconds.
HARRIS CONTINUES TO SHINE
Billerica High senior Stephen Harris won the 300-meters with a time of 34.27, and this comes after finishing 14th a year ago.
“I think so much (of my improvement) has to do with the coaching staff,” Harris said. “This is the second year having (Shaun Corum) as our head coach and we had three different coaches before him and he’s pushed us harder at practice and has just helped me a lot to get better. The workouts have been so much better, plus I always have Rodrigo (Freitas) there to push me every day.”
Corum said that it was just a matter of time before Harris put it all together.
“Stephen has always been in the middle of the pack but something this year just clicked for him and he realized his true potential,” said Corum. “I don’t really know what that was, but I think once he progressed to the front of the pack in meets and once he qualified for nationals, he realized that his season doesn’t end at the divisional meet. I think that was ultimately what is was for him and on the inside he wants to be the best and that’s what drives him.”
Harris also joined Freitas, Billy West and Ryan D’Agostino to finish eighth in the 4×200 with a time of 1:32.69.
North Andover had two relay teams place second and third with Peter Martel, Paul Fernandez, Matt Chicko and Jack Chace finishing the 4×400 at 3:23.89 and then Martel, Sebastian Vente, Chicko and Chace combined for a time of 1:31.44 in the 4×200.
Methuen’s 4×200 team of Stanley Hanci, Michael Soucy, John Dowgiert and Nassim Bendimerand were fifth at 1:31.92.
Finally Andover’s Michael Makiej was tied for seventh in the high jump at 6-4.
The top six in each event advance to next Saturday’s New England Championships to be held back at the RLC.