Track Team Places 4th in New England

Published in the March 5, 2008 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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The indoor track program at Nashoba Regional High School may still be in its infancy, but the precocious Chieftains have already proved that they can hang with the big kids from around the region.

In a season of unprecedented accomplishments for the boys' indoor track squad, perhaps the most impressive effort came this past Friday from the 4 x 800 meter relay team, which slashed more than five seconds off its previous best time to place fourth at the all-New England regional meet.

“It was the fastest they've run all year,” said Don Gribbons, who along with fellow head coach Ley Ricker launched the indoor track program only three years ago. “Everybody had great splits.”

Just having a relay team qualify for the regional meet was itself an historic feat, as no indoor or outdoor track team from Nashoba had previously fielded a relay at the all-New England level. Typically even if a Chieftain relay team does well against teams from other similarly sized schools in its division, Gribbons said, it's very tough to compete at the all-state and regional levels against bigger schools with deeper pools of talent from which to hand-pick a relay team.

“For a little school like Nashoba, it's difficult to have the four best at anything,” he said. “Usually you can find four good kids, but a bigger school can find four great kids.”

The Chieftains' four great 800-meter specialists, of course, learned a little something about winning as members of the equally impressive boys' cross-country team, which placed third in that sport's all-state meet in November. With essentially no time off between seasons, they've also learned a little something about endurance.

“You have to give the distance runners credit,” Gribbons said. “They've been going hard now for seven months.”

Whereas other schools might have athletes who run only as part of a relay, all of the Nashoba team members have doubled up in individual events. The athletes who run the first two legs of the relay, junior Joe Doyle and senior Anthony Raduazo, had the daunting task of doubling at the regional meet as well. Doyle finished eighth in the 1000 meter run and Raduazo finished 10th in the two-mile event.

Because the relay was one of the first events of the day, Gribbons said he thought the two Chieftains' efforts might have suffered in the individual events – perhaps not by a lot, but at this level of competition even a fraction of a second can make a huge difference in placing.

“They just didn't quite have the kick that they normally do,” he said. “But we knew going in to the meet that if we ran the 800 hard, then it would affect those two kids in the other events. Those are the decisions you have to make.”

As it turned out, one event on the day was more than enough for sophomore Brendon Aylaian of Stow, who had been battling pneumonia in the days leading up to the regional meet. The Chieftain miler, who placed second in the division 3 meet on Feb. 16 and 15th in the all-state meet on Feb. 25, said he never considered opting out of the relay on Friday.

“It was New Englands, so I had to run it,” Aylaian said. “I couldn't let down my team.”

As talented as Doyle, Raduazo and Aylaian are, the fate of the relay inevitably comes down to the performance of anchor man Coby Horowitz. And on Friday, the Stow sophomore and 600-meter specialist once again did not disappoint, switching into a higher gear in the last 100 meters to edge past Josh Band of Peabody Veterans by just 0.24 seconds. Nashoba's final time was 8:05.80.

“It was the first time this season that I ran a whole race without changing speeds,” Horowitz said. “And then right at the end I decided to just see how far I could get, and I think I ended up passing two or three of them.”

Another Stow resident, junior Tyler Masi, was a member of the St. John's-Shrewsbury 4x400 relay team that placed fifth at the New England meet. The St. Johns's team finished in 3:28.67, more than three seconds faster than its effort at the all-state meet.

Although the outdoor track season is right around the corner, the Chieftains' indoor season still isn't quite finished. All four athletes will travel to New York City for the National Scholastic Indoor Championships (which is not an MIAA event), to be held March 14-16 at the Armory. Doyle and Raduazo will compete in their respective individual events, but because of scheduling issues the relay team will be running a 4 x 1 mile event instead of the 4 x 800.

The longer distance isn't anything the Chieftains can't handle, said Gribbons, who hopes to try to give the athletes a bit of a well-deserved break between now and then.

“The next two weeks will just be very low key,” he said. “Then we'll go down there and try to have a good time.”

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