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Nipmuc Boys Track Lacks in Numbers, but not Talent

The Nipmuc boys' winter track team only has 14 athletes, but head coach Richard Auger has been able to get the most out of his squad thanks to both talent and versatility. "This is the smallest team I have had in years," he said of the squad, whose record stands at 3-3. "In the past, we have had anywhere from 25 to 35 athletes. Considering the size of the team, I think we have done pretty well."
Perhaps the most versatile athlete the Warriors boast is sophomore Kurt Robakiewicz, who recently broke the freshman and sophomore record at the Reggie Lewis Center in the long jump. He also has run the 300-meter dash in 40 seconds and has been competing in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays. He throws the shot over 38 feet, and high jumped more than five feet when trying that event for the first time.
"Kurt is just a great all around athlete and he's excelled at just about everything he has tried so far," said Auger.
Nipmuc has several strong distance runners, including Steve Lukas, who has finished either first or second in the 1,000 in most meets this season. Senior Kevin Gourney has also provided a couple of wins for the Warriors in the mile. Wesley Dumas, Tim Brian, Drew Dipito, and twins Daniel and William Whitcomb have also been strong in either the mile, 2-mile, 1,000, or any combination of the above.
"We have some great kids on this team, and whatever I need them to do, they do it," said Auger.
Running the shorter distances is a core that includes a couple of first time runners. Evan Offord joined the team for the first time this season but is already running the 300 in around 40 seconds. Matt Burke has the league's second best time in the 600, and has also been a key part of the 4x400 team. Sophomore Michael Castellani has contributed in the 300 and the 4x200. Sam Manning rounds out the roster and, like most of the team, has been strong in multiple events, the high jump and hurdles.
Auger is as proud of his team off the track as he is on, with eight of his athletes in National Honor Society and a roster that includes the NHS president, a number of top students and musicians. Despite the success on and off the track, he is disappointed in the dwindling numbers in the program.
"Right now, it costs an athlete $325 to participate in a sport, the cost is prohibitive, and there is no family cap, it's ridiculous and I hope it is going to change," he said. "You can't promote the sport if you charge that kind of money."
Still, Auger is pleased with his team's performance. "We don't know what numbers we will get for the spring, but I hope we have all of these kids we have right now," he said. "We are enjoying it, the kids are great, and we are having a lot of fun."




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