HARVARD -- On a hot, muggy Friday morning last week, Groton residents Evan Lexo and Matt Fischetti met to train at the Harvard track on Lancaster County road.
Lexo is a rising junior at Groton-Dunstable High school, where he has set records in the 100-meter dash.
"I came into it (sprinting) in eighth grade knowing that I was decently fast," said Lexo. "In high school it took off, when I got spikes, blocks and everything. Coach Alex (Ivanov) and I work a lot together because he is the coach at the high school. He puts in a lot of extra time with me, and I really appreciate that. He taught me all these good workouts and the right technique to get me as fast as I can get."
Fischetti will be a senior in the fall at Philips Andover Academy. He racked up second-place honors in the Junior Olympic decathlon qualifier at Icahn Stadium in New York City last weekend.
Lexo competed at the Emerging Elite Nationals meet in Greensboro earlier this summer and quickly learned that the national competitions are completely different from the typical club meets that both he and Fischetti have participated in as members of the Nitehawks sports club.
"The one in New York last week was run more professionally than any other meet," said Lexo. "Same with the one down in North Carolina. They quarantine you before your race. You can't have your coach with you, so you are just secluded with the other athletes."
To the average eye, every track surface looks the same, but to Lexo and Fischetti, the texture and bounce the track emits make all the difference.
"Something like this (Harvard's track) is harder, gritty and coarse almost, whereas down in North Carolina, it is like a carpeted surface," said Fischetti. "It has a lot of give to it. The one at New York's Icahn Stadium is where the pros run. It is the location of the Adidas Grand Prix Circuit; it is a world class track where you can set a world record."
Lexo took home the gold in the 17- 18-year-old division of the 100-meter sprint event with his time of 10.86. Lexo beat out Ernest Agyeman of the Bronx by .13 seconds.
"It was my first time in New York," said Lexo. "I am only 16, so I was definitely looking around thinking these kids are older than me. I thought they would put down much better times, but I knew that I could be competitive. I just wanted to make sure I could do everything correctly and run my race like I did."
Fischetti placed second in the decathlon with 5,623 points out of eight participants. The 10 events are split up over two days.
"It was my second time doing a decathlon there," said Fischetti. "I did one back in April; there was not as much competition.
"The most recent meet had a really deep field," he said, "A half dozen were over 5,000. Over 5,000 is pretty good for our age. I knew my buddy (first-place, Nicholas Fofana, 5,813 points, of Newton) would be good, but there were guys right on our tail. It was a Massachusetts sweep, one-two-three."
Following the pair's half-mile warm-up run Friday morning, Lexo jogged up the hill to the parking lot, where he grabbed the starting blocks from his car.
Lexo and Fischetti did some light stretching before they started to work on their sprinting techniques. Fischetti's strongest event is the 400-meter dash, but as a decathlon athlete, being well-versed in all 10 track and field events is crucial.
"Lexo goes out and does his sprinting technique," said Fischetti. "When I go to the track, I have to do that and I usually do a throw or jump.
"You have to pick and choose your events," he said. "My coach puts together an entire program for me. It is a lot of stuff in the weight room; you still need the strength, even if your technique is not perfect ... You need to work your strengths as well as your weaknesses."Lexo is approaching the USA Junior Olympics meet later this month, just like any other race -- with a "leave it all on the track" mentality.
"Every time I go down there, I expect that I have to run close to my best race," said Lexo. "Each year, the competition gets a lot faster.
"I know that I have to work extra hard to get down there," he said. "It is a long way and it cost a lot. If I run my best or close to my best, I will be happy. But I want to make sure I put in the hard work to do it. I don't want to go down there for nothing."
The Junior Olympics, sponsored by USA Track and Field, begin on July 22 and run through the 28th at the Irwin Belk Track and Field Complex on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.