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Northampton girls indoor track second at PVIAC championships

  • Adrienne Pascucci of Northampton, right, runs in the 55-meter hurdles Monday at Smith College. In the background is Katherine Zombik of Holyoke Catholic.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Adrienne Pascucci of Northampton, right, runs in the 55-meter hurdles Monday at Smith College. In the background is Katherine Zombik of Holyoke Catholic.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kanya Brown of Amherst crosses the finish line in the 55-meter dash Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Kanya Brown of Amherst crosses the finish line in the 55-meter dash Monday at Smith College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mia Toffoli of Northampton, right, keeps pace with Luis Vanderheyden in the 600-meter run before winning the event Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mia Toffoli of Northampton, right, keeps pace with Luis Vanderheyden in the 600-meter run before winning the event Monday at Smith College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rachel Harrington of South Hadley smiles at the finish line after taking a second place in the 1000-meter Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Rachel Harrington of South Hadley smiles at the finish line after taking a second place in the 1000-meter Monday at Smith College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Adrienne Pascucci of Northampton, right, runs in the 55-meter hurdles Monday at Smith College. In the background is Katherine Zombik of Holyoke Catholic.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Kanya Brown of Amherst crosses the finish line in the 55-meter dash Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mia Toffoli of Northampton, right, keeps pace with Luis Vanderheyden in the 600-meter run before winning the event Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Rachel Harrington of South Hadley smiles at the finish line after taking a second place in the 1000-meter Monday at Smith College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

NORTHAMPTON — The Northampton girls indoor track & field team did not offer any excuses for coming in second at the PVIAC championships, but circumstances beyond its control cost the Blue Devils a better title opportunity Monday night at Smith College.

A key injury suffered during the meet combined with a top performer unable to compete due to sickness factored into Northampton finishing with 62 team points, behind only three-time champion East Longmeadow (71.5). Amherst Regional (52) ran a strong third, while South Hadley (24) came in seventh and Holyoke Catholic (10) was 10th.

“The dropouts were tough, but that’s high school track and field, unfortunately things are going to happen,” said first-year Blue Devils coach Brian Frodema. “I’m sure the other teams all have their own situations, so it’s hard to say if that could have gotten us over the top.”

Senior Mia Toffoli had to pull out in the middle of the 1000 meters, while star sophomore Alex Dibrindisi, the top seed in the long jump and a relay team member, missed the meet altogether.

“It’s disappointing to lose those possible points, but you can’t plan for these sorts of things,” said Toffoli. “The girls who stepped in did a great job, we’re proud of everybody on this team. The young kids really pulled through.”

Northampton senior Adrienne Pascucci enjoyed another outstanding sectional meet with an individual title and two runner-up performances, earning 26 team points.

Pascucci set a new school record in the 55 hurdles with a time of 8.94 seconds after coming into the event as the No. 2 seed.

“I can’t be disappointed with a PR,” she said. “I had to work on my technique throughout the season to get ready for that particular event. It took a while to get it down smooth, but it clicked (Monday), especially my start. Usually I start a race dead last.”

In the high jump, Pascucci came in second at 5 feet, 2 inches after a jump-off with Paige Suse of East Longmeadow. Pascucci then jumped 16-6 for second in the long jump.

“I always try to get as many points for my team to take some stress off others,” she said. “The field events really can’t be seen by everyone else, so those end up being surprise points. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough for us. We had a good meet with a lot of solid performances.”

Toffoli earned the other individual championship for the Blue Devils in the 600 with a time of 1:39.28. She took the lead at the start of the final lap and held off Luise Vanderhayden of Central for the title.

“That was the strategy. I wanted to hang on right behind her and let her push me, which is what happened,” said Toffoli. “After I took first, I gave it all I had on the last lap to hold her off.”

Toffoli had little time to enjoy her victory, as she turned right around to enter the 1000. But she injured her knee during the race and had to pull out.

“I have patella tendonitis, which hasn’t bothered me too much lately,” she said. “I think trying to run two races so close to each other proved to be too much. I heard a small pop, so it was definitely best to pull out and not risk anything.”

Heading into the relays, Northampton trailed East Longmeadow by 7.5 points. The Blue Devils finished third in the 4x200 and seventh in the 4x800. In the 4x400, the Spartans overtook Northampton on the final lap to clinch the title.

“We could have some had better showings, and the breaks didn’t go our way,” said Frodema. “But East Longmeadow’s a great team and they certainly deserve what they got. For us, second is a bit of a disappointment, but the program’s in the hunt every season. We’re looking to continue all the success Northampton has enjoyed.”

Pascucci and Toffoli headline a senior class that finishes with one PVIAC crown and three second-place showings.

“We as a senior class had a big part in preserving the success of this program,” said Toffoli. “There are a number of talented, dedicated younger girls ready to carry the team forward into the future. It will be exciting to see.”

The South Hadley 4x800 relay team of Aryn Banas, Hope Werenski, Rachel Harrington and Serena Sarage, won with a time of 10:33.7.

Harrington also earned a second in the 1000 at 3:07.87 behind Ashley Monahan of Agawam.

“I can’t even describe (winning a Western Massachusetts title). I’m in shock,” Harrington said. “It all goes back to our coaches and the time and effort they put in to help us perform our best. Going into the 1000 and looking at the seed times, the other girls were really fast. The second seed (Toffoli) fell off, so that gave me a bit of a boost. The girl who won ran a great race, she deserved to win.”

Finishing second for Amherst Regional were Kanya Brown (7.59 seconds) in the 55 dash, Anna Kaplan (5:27.26) in the mile, Sara Vannah (12:11) in the 2-mile and the 4x200 relay squad of Brown, Juliana Brissette, Ariel Christie and Emma Biggs (1:52.01).

“I can’t remember us finishing this high in a long time,” said Vannah, one of seven seniors. “We worked hard this year and got a lot out of the season. I’m a little sick, so I personally didn’t run my best time, but I just wanted to enjoy the meet.”

Other top-three individuals included Katherine Zombik of Holyoke Catholic in the 55 hurdles (third, 9.27) and Sophie Sharp of Northampton in the long jump (third, 16-5).

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

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