By Jess Thomas
The three Nashoba District middle school track and field teams competed in the annual District team meet on Wednesday, June 10 at Nashoba Regional High School. The teams from Stow’s Hale, Bolton’s Sawyer and Lancaster’s Luther Burbank middle schools faced off against each other, some for the last time before heading off for high school, where many of them will become teammates.
It was also the final meet of the season and Luther Burbank won with 101.5 points, Sawyer finished in second with 101 and Hale picked up 56.5 points on the day.
The Hawks of Hale saw a drop in team size this season, which made larger meets more of a challenge for head coach Kaitlyn Van Buskirk.
But even with fewer players, Hale has enjoyed improving its race times and taking advantage of rainy days.
“We had a few rainy day practices where we ended up playing capture the flag and bombardment,” Van Buskirk said.
Van Buskirk and assistant coach Monika Bokon joined in on the fun and had a great time playing with the students. “I think it’s important for the students to see adults being playful and relaxed,” Van Buskirk said. “They don’t get to see that side of us as much during the school day.”
On the field, Van Buskirk noted that Hale’s high jump and hurdle times were significantly improved from last year and she gave the credit to help from Mrs. O’Riorden, one of the students’ mothers.
The star players for the Hawks for girls were Carli Donovan in the 100-meter, Erin Mehigan in the 100-meter hurdles and Ella Lemieux in the mile, all eighth graders.
Each of them won their events at every meet they competed in this year and all been to the state championships in these events.
Another top finisher was seventh-grader Emma Young, who participates in the long jump and 400-meter. She finished first in the long jump at the district meet on Wednesday. Van Buskirk said, “She (Young) has made great strides in this event (long jump) this season.”
For the boys, seventh-grader Mason Jones has been tearing up his competition for the track and field team.
He performed in states in the 100-meter, 100-meter hurdles and turbo javelin.
“He (Jones) was able to qualify for states for the turbo jav the first time he tried it,” said Van Buskirk.
In the final meet, Jones took his talents to the high jump bar and secured his personal record of 4’8” and finished third.
In perhaps the most inspiring moment of the year, Van Buskirk said that athlete Tess Hunter returned for the final meet after sustaining a back injury. She won the high jump in that meet, impressing Van Buskirk.
“It’s amazing to see how strong and determined some of these kids are,” Van Buskirk said.
“Seeing students reach their goals and then go above and beyond has been rewarding to watch,” Van Buskirk said. “I’m the art teacher at the school, so I know my students fairly well, but it’s awesome to see them in another capacity.”