Spreading the Talent for Indoor Track

Published in the January 09, 2008 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


As expected, the young men who enjoyed unprecedented success this fall with the Nashoba Regional cross country team are now dominating the distance events of the indoor track season. If only there were more of them.

Whereas all cross country runners compete in the same race and score points based on the order in which they finish, the logistics of indoor track have led coaches Don Gribbons and Ley Ricker to distribute their top distance runners among different events in hopes of maximizing the number of points scored in each race. But there are only enough top Chieftain distance runners to field one in each event -- sometimes two when regional cross-country champion Anthony Raduazo takes on the difficult double of the mile and 2-mile races – which means Nashoba's wins and losses in dual meets have come down to how its athletes perform in the sprints and field events.

“We have very high talent level, but our numbers are not equal to those of some other schools,” said Gribbons, whose Chieftains are now 2-1 in dual meets for the season.

At Saturday's meet in Fitchburg, first place finishes in all four distance events (2 mile, mile, 100 meters and 600 meters) paced the Chieftains past Quabbin, 63-28. But at the same meet, the Chieftains fell short (54-37) against Westborough, which swept the shot put and had two of the top three finishers in every event except the high jump and the mile.

In the high jump, senior co-captain Doug Koury and junior Conor Megee, both of Stow, finished first and second against Quabbin and second and third against Westborough despite an off day for Koury, who has the highest jump in the district this season at 6'2” but cleared only 5'10” on Saturday. In the mile, Stow sophomore Brendon Aylaian edged Raduazo in a photo finish (4:44.9 vs 4:45.1) that led all competitors and marked a rare victory for the underclassman over his former cross-country teammate.

Others who earned first-place finishes against both Quabbin and Westborough on Saturday included Megee (55 meter hurdles, 8.5 seconds), Stow sophomore Coby Horowitz (600 meter run, 1:32.1), and junior Joe Doyle (1000 meter run, 2:44.6)

“We're getting a lot of first places,” Gribbons said. “We're just not getting the seconds and thirds, especially the thirds. That's the difference.”

Gribbons attributes some of the lack of depth to the fact that the indoor track program at Nashoba is only in its third season. That it exists at all is a testament to Gribbons and Ricker, both longtime outdoor track coaches at Nashoba who retired from teaching last year but felt compelled to return for one more indoor season.

“We have to build a program,” Gribbons said. “In fact, that's one of the reasons why Ley and I came back.”

Going into Saturday's meet, the Chieftains were familiar with the challenge that Westborough would pose after watching the Rangers excel in many of the same events at the MSTCA Winter Track Festival in Boston last month. In that meet, Nashoba's Koury (high jump), Doyle (1000m), Raduazo (2 mile) all earned first place finishes against competition from across the state, as did the 4x800 relay team of cross-country alums Doyle, Raduazo, Aylaian and Horowitz. (The 4x800 relay is not typically included in the dual-meet format.)

A number of Chieftains have already qualified for the state meet that will be held in mid-February. Koury and Megee have both qualified in the high jump, Raduazo the mile and 2-mile events, Aylaian the mile, Doyle the 1000m, Horowitz the 600 m, and senior co-captain Layne Sadler the 300 meter dash. Although Raduazo receives the lion's share of attention for his accomplishments – and deservedly so – those of sophomores Aylaian and Horowitz are also particularly impressive, Gribbons said.

“Brendon has the third fastest time in district in the mile. For a sophomore, that's phenomenal,” Gribbons said. “Coby is the one (of the distance runners) who we're moving down to a shorter race because he has tremendous turnover and is very good in the corners. He would be much better off at one of the longer events, but we have to spread the talent around.”

Both super sophs will have their hands full on Saturday, when the Chieftains face off against Leominster (which boasts 600-meter specialists Mark Malkin and Nicholas delGuidice) and Gardner (featuring miler Steve Lajoie and 600- meter man Zack Sylvestre, both of whom also excel in the 1000-meter event). The meet will be held at Fitchburg High School, starting at 9 a.m.


Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239