Future of Girls' Indoor Track Looks Bright

Published in the January 23, 2008 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster


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In the annals of Nashoba Regional girls' indoor track history, this season may not be remembered for its record, which currently stands at 1-3. But it may well be remembered as the season when a number of talented freshmen made their debuts, and were lucky enough to do so in the company of seniors whose leadership helped mold the young team's future.

The most decorated of the freshmen thus far is Emily Clark of Stow, whose fifth-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles at the MSTCA Winter Track Festival in December served notice that she is in no way intimidated by the idea of lining up against more experienced competitors.

“If I was her, I would have been scared out of my mind at that meet, but she did really well,” said senior co-captain Lindsey Horowitz, also of Stow. “She really held her own.”

Clark's time of 9.68 seconds in that meet qualified her for the state meet, to be held in mid-February. Since then, she earned first place in the event against both Westboro and Quabbin on Jan. 5, and finished second to Gardner's Kasey Puchol by mere hundredths of a second on Jan. 12.

Clark's impressive results are directly related to the ease with which she has learned the nuances of hurdling technique, according to Don Gribbons, who has teamed with Ley Ricker in coaching track for more than three decades.

“In our career, Ley's and mine, Emily is probably the most natural hurdler we've seen,” Gribbons said. “She's three-stepping hurdles as a freshman. Some kids graduate from high school having never learned to three-step.”

Clark isn't the only freshman who has embraced the hurdles either. With Stow's Chelsea Willoughby and Rachel Busch following Clark's lead, Nashoba could be quite the juggernaut in that event in the very near future. Other freshmen on the rise include Shara Batson (600 meters), Prudence Bailey (300 meters) and Aubrie Vannasse (300 meters). Clark also competes in the high jump.

“All the freshmen are not only talented, but they're really willing to work hard,” Horowitz said. “They never complain about running outside in the cold during practice. They have a lot of potential, and I think the team is going to be even stronger next year.”

But Horowitz and other senior leaders of the team, including co-captains Risa Langelo of Stow and Jill Darden, have also been critical to the youngsters' success, Gribbons said. Conor Megee, a senior hurdler on the boys' team, has also been mentoring the freshmen in that event, he added.

“They set very good examples, and that's what you count on,” Gribbons said. “In some sports as a coach you can be there watching everything. But with running, the kids are away from you a lot of the time, so your captains are more important because you have less control. It's the captains who really control the workout.”

Horowitz in particular has been having a stellar indoor season, qualifying for the state meet in the 2-mile run. She also won that event in dual meets against both Westborough and Quabbin and finished second against Gardner and Marlboro.

“Lindsey just been unbelievable,” Gribbons said. “She had a very good cross country season, but is having a phenomenal track season. She's really blossomed.”

Horowitz credits her success to workouts with fellow senior co-captain Jill Darden of Bolton, who has qualified for the state meet in the 600 meters and also competes on the 4x400 relay team that placed third at the December MSTCA meet. Keeping pace with the faster Darden, Horowitz said, has shaved seconds off of her first-mile times.

Langelo, a sprinter, typically teams with junior standout Alee Wade to form a formidable one-two punch in the 300 meter dash and two key legs of the 4x200 meter relay team that took first at the MSTCA meet.

Both relays placed in the top 10 on Sunday at the MSTCA division 3 state relay meet, with the 4x200 meter squad finishing eighth and the 4x400 meter team finishing sixth. The 4x50 meter relay, which is not normally run during dual meets, finished an impressive fourth. The 4x800 meter relay, competing without injured junior miler Megan Cullinane, finished fourteenth.

Next up for the Chieftains are the Mid-Wach B championships, which will take place on Saturday at Fitchburg High School. The meet is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

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