FITCHBURG - Historic Crocker Field played host to its first track championship since 2006, and the Fitchburg boys seemed to get a little boost from the home field advance. The Red Raiders capitalized on personal bests in the throwing events and got major contributions from some of their usual suspects to finish competitively in fourth place in the Midland A Championships with 84 points on Saturday.
The North Middlesex boys did well without their star distance runner, placing fifth overall with 43 points, while the improving Leominster boys finished sixth (40 points).
There was a big separation between the top of the girl's standings and the rest of the field. Fitchburg (29 points) achieved some revenge edging out Leominster (19 points) for fourth place. The North Middlesex girls saw some decent performances which landed them in sixth with 9 points.
The Raider boys got a big lift in the throwing events. First year junior Drew DiGeronimo threw a personal best in the javelin of 160 feet 7 inches to finish in a close second place in the event. All of the top six shot put throwers were seniors, with the exception of Fitchburg sophomore Leo Ramirez whose personal best throw of 51 feet 2.50 inches landed him in second place overall.
Fitchburg tallied 28 points in throwing events in total, capped off by C.J. Jones' fourth place finish in the discus (117-05) and shot put (46-07.50), and Marcos Diaz's fourth place showing in the javelin (146-07).
"We are happy with what we did in the throwing events," Fitchburg throwing coach Dan Walker said. "DiGeronimo is a good athlete, and he's picked it up and keeps getting better. Leo (Ramirez) is only a sophomore, and he is going to have a very bright future."
The jumps provided another big swing for the Raiders. Emmanuel Bamgbose captured the triple jump (43-02), and finished second in the long jump (20-05.50), while senior Ezra Brice placed second in the triple jump (40-05), and sixth in the long jump (18-10).
Senior Connor Lemieux put forth a stellar performance in one of his final meets of his career, capturing first place overall in the 400m dash (51.71). Distance runner Jason Bugarin ran strong in a competitive 2 mile, finishing in fourth (10:18.67).
The relays were another bountiful source of points for the Red and Gray, as the 4X100m comprised of Elijah Kukta, Bamgbose, Brice, and Diaz finished second (45.49). The mile relay, comprised of DiGeronimo, Lemieux, Josh Higgins, and Christian Capoccia placed third (3:40.66).
North Middlesex Boys
North Middlesex was without distance runner Chris Skelly, who had other commitments but will return for the Division 1 Central/Western Mass Championship. Needless to say without the heavy favorite it dealt the Patriots a major blow in team scoring.
That is not to say the day was a complete loss though. Mike Niemi, a junior 110m hurdler, captured the league crown in the event with a 15.33 second time. The Patriots saved another top performance for last, as the mile relay team, comprised of Matt Wheeler, Dylan Woods, Nate Alexander, and Charlie Ritchie placed first overall (3:36.63), setting a season's best time.
"That was a personal record for Niemi in the hurdles," North Middlesex head coach Suzanne Williams said. "He had a bad spell last year and an injury kept him out of all the championships. He's having a really great year and is developing his speed."
The pole vault was an important event, as Alexander took second (11-00), and Phillip Dwyer placed sixth (9-06).
Wheeler (54.26) and Ritchie (54.27) ran well in the 400m dash individually, placing fourth and fifth. Joey Dolciotto took sixth in the 100m dash (11.63), while Justyn Atwood earned sixth in the 200m dash (24.27). The 4X800m relay finished fourth (9:12.13), while the 4X100 took sixth (47.49). Ben Dauphinais rounded out the scoring with sixth in the high jump (4-10).
North Middlesex Girls
Senior Laurel Haines continues to end her career on a high note. Haines finished fourth in the pole vault (9-04) and sixth in the 100m hurdles (17.90). Kelly Charest placed fifth in the 400m hurdles (1:13.07), and the 400m relay placed fifth (55.59).
"(Haines) has developed a sense of confidence," Williams said. "She has really excelled in just being a leader. She's turned into the one that all the girls look up to."