WENHAM — Not even puddles on the track and the rain coming down could prevent the North Reading girls track team from claiming its fifth straight MSTCA Div. 3 relays title Sunday evening.
Behind wins in four different events and success coming in bits and pieces across the board, the Hornets staved off a hungry Melrose team to finish with 76 points for the trophy. First-place finishes in the 4×100 meter relay, 4×100 meter shuttle hurdle, triple jump relay and javelin thrower relay proved vital in the effort, keeping the Red Raiders’ 53-point performance off two event wins at bay.
The year layoff from the pandemic couldn’t detract North Reading from its high aspirations.
“This team has been rock solid for several years now,” said head coach Sotirios Pintzopoulo. “We always look forward to this meet. … This is the indicator of who the favorites are for the states, so these girls have big goals this year. And they’ve been working hard.”
The Hornets and Red Raiders were within striking distance until the final four event scores were updated, leaving a little suspense up until the 4×400 meter relay ended the day.
North Reading’s 1:06.85 time took the 4×100 shuttle hurdle, but Melrose cruised in the 4×800 meter relay (10:25.78) by 20 seconds. The Hornets edged Bishop Feehan by .03 seconds in the 4×100 relay (51.48 seconds), only for the Red Raiders to claim the high jump relay behind Julia McAree’s 4-foot, 9.75-inch leap.
In the end, North Reading’s other victories and point-finishes in 11 of the 14 events sealed the comfortable lead. Melrose coach Shannon Kane and the rest of the Red Raiders were ecstatic over their performance after tempering expectations entering the meet, though.
“To be honest, it was a little unexpected … our secret goal was to come in first, but it wasn’t a real thing,” Kane said. “We did have to change something at the last minute because one of our girls couldn’t come. … Everyone really stepped up.”
Burlington did well with five second-place finishes to tie for third with Plymouth South at 43 points, while the Eagles had five top-three finishes themselves.
Tewksbury also impressed on the track, winning in the 4×200 (1:51.75) and the 1600 sprint medley (4:21.80).