By Matt Stewart

MediaNews Group

LUNENBURG -- The North Middlesex boys' track team usually approaches the Fred Warren District E Class Meet as an opportunity for individual accolades. But the 2014 version also featured a chance for team success. The Patriots entered the relays in third, but couldn't get past perennial powers Wachusett Regional and St. John's as North Middlesex finished in third place with 63.5 points in the Class A championships, marking one of the best finishes for the school in the past couple of decades. Oakmont Regional had a chance to win the Class B title, as the final event of the day (the mile relay), would determine a champion. Even though Oakmont (77 points) won the relay, it couldn't overcome a slim Auburn (79 points) advantage, and settled for a silver medal. Nashoba Regional (31 points) finished in eighth in Class A, while Fitchburg took 11th (27 points). Lunenburg was the only other local

team to score, finishing in sixth place in Class B (35 points). The Patriots entered the district meet as the regular season championfrom Mid-Wach A (6-0, 5-0) and used the momentum of the dual meet season to propel it to success at districts. "We're doing great," North Middlesex junior Chris Skelly said. "Last year we weren't doing so hot, but we got a bunch of new, talented people this year. We're suddenly up at the top, which is cool. We're pumped to be in the top three at districts, because we're not used to this. It's unreal."

Skelly had an impressive day with a personal best in the mile (4:24.16), which lifted him to first, and he also returned to take fourth in the 800 (2:04.13). North Middlesex senior hurdler Michael Niemi continued his record-setting year by winning the 110 hurdles (15.46) and takingthird in the 400 hurdles (59.89).

The field events helped the Patriots, as well, as first-year senior Chris Brouillette took third in the discus (125-3) and returning senior Neil Maskalenko earned second in the high jump (6-4). Perhaps the Patriots' most versatile athlete, Anton Dotson shined,

taking fourth in the 100 dash (11.77). Senior Dylan Woods took fifth in the 200 dash (23.94) and Jacob Fitzgerald placed fifth in the long jump (19-11). Wachusett started to pull away in the relays, but the Patriots picked up a fourth in the 4x100 (46.67), fourth in the 4x400 (3:42.76) and sixth in the 4x800 (9:13.09) to maintain third place.

"We had a lot of personal bests today, and everyone has been outstanding today," North Middlesex head coach Suzanne Williams said. "Our main focus is on winning the league meet on Saturday."