by Tyler Roaix
With just one event remaining before the NEC Championships, the pressure has never been higher for the Central track and field team to stay hot and keep their string of impressive performances going. They did just that at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational this past weekend, especially on the women’s side, to keep the momentum going.
The women were first up Friday, where they started the competition off strong. Five personal records were set in yet another strong showing by the team.
Junior Sierra Nesmith and sophomore Arianna Taft kicked off the afternoon by setting personal records in the 400-meter dash. Nesmith ran the sprint in 57.04 seconds to set her new best. Taft followed suit, posting a 1:02.08, breaking her personal record set earlier in the year.
Sophomore Megan Brawner and freshman Kailyn Accetura continued the record-setting with strong performances in the 800-meter run. Brawner posted a 2:17.11, beating her previous best by just under a second. Accetura finished in 2:48.50, beating her previous best by a full seven seconds.
The last Blue Devil record of the day came from junior Morgan Ricci, who finished the mile in 5:41.23. Classmates Dawn Hubbell and Madeline Mondo, along with senior Olivia Monda, all had strong showings in the mile as well. They ran times of 5:11.83, 5:13.46 and 5:33.23, respectively.
The men kept the momentum going into Saturday with some great performances.
Akiel Smith was the star of the show with his run in the 200-meter dash. The junior set a new personal record with a time of 21.77 seconds, just edging his previous best of 21.80 he set last weekend at the New England Championships. Smith also won his heat and placed 14th overall out of 198 competitors.
Jack St. Clair led the Blue Devils in the 400-meter dash, finishing the event with a 50.21-second sprint. That run was good for an 82nd-place finish out of 182 runners.
After a winning performance last weekend for senior Austin Trainor at the New England Championships, he followed it up with another one of his best runs of the year. He ran the mile in 4:05.81, placing 23rd out of 347 people to run in the event.
The Blue Devils also made their presence known in the field events. Senior Sam Borecki set a new personal record in the pole vault, clearing a 4.95-meter mark. Junior Mike Lang continued a string of success in the long jump, with a leap of 6.93 meters. Sophomore Nana Kissi had another strong throw in the shot put, hurling it for a distance of 13.12 meters and 10.50 meters in the weight throw.
Head coach Eric Blake was pleased with his team’s performance.
“Good weekend. We got out of it what we needed,” he said. “Some personal best, but a general feel that we have some left for next weekend. Also, I got to see what we needed in regard to entries next weekend.”
The Blue Devils had something else to celebrate this weekend. On Friday, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) acknowledged Central’s cross country teams for excellence in the classroom for the Fall semester. The women had a combined GPA of 3.16, while the men had a 3.08 for the semester.
“It’s a very devoted group,” Blake said. “I’m impressed at the balance they have. We have a few on the team that feel they underachieved if they don’t get a 4.0.”
The team will take on the NEC Championships on Feb. 16 and 17. Blake is “confident that both teams (will) have their best meet of the season.
The event will be hosted by Wagner at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, NY.