By Chris Villani
The Nipmuc girls’ track and field team dominated the recent Dual Valley Conference championship meet, besting the nearest competitor by more than 40 points in route to its second straight league title during the winter season.
“This one was a bit more expected than the last time,” head coach Justin Townsend said of the repeat. “We have had a really good season; it’s been one good meet after another. We have a lot of talented kids on our team, it’s a really good group of girls that love track and work really, really hard.”
The sprint crew has provided Nipmuc with the most depth this season but the Warriors do not lack for distance runners and skilled field event athletes. Nipmuc’s sprinting team is so deep in fact, that sophomore Ava Smith ended up competing in the shot put at leagues and improved on her personal best by more than four-and-a-half feet. The shocking level of improvement allowed her to place second in the league.
Nipmuc had several league champions as well. Liz Lange, another sophomore, won the dash. Junior Gianna Yordanopoulos narrowly defeated her teammate, freshman Kyah Montano in the 300. The difference of two hundredths of a second marked the closest race of the day.
Eighth grade 600 runner Jessica Casey won her event, as did junior Emma Nadolski in the 1,000. Throw in wins for the 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams and a handful of other top-five finishes, and the Nipmuc rout was on.
Townsend said a number of athletes should qualify for states. Yordanopoulos is qualified in the long jump and may be able to make the cut in the 300 as well. Alyson Casey, the team’s lone senior, is close in the dash and Jess Casey is near the qualifying time in the 600. Lange was off by a fraction of a second in the dash following the league meet, Townsend said.
Junior Caroline Brigham placed second at leagues and will compete at states in the high jump, the coach added. She has already set a new Nipmuc record.
The success at the league meet followed a stellar showing at the district relay meet. Nipmuc placed in the top-10 and brought five relay teams, all five of them set program records.
“Based on the last week, we kind of realized that we are emerging pretty quickly,” Townsend said. “We have focused athletes who are super competitive, it’s so much fun to coach them.”