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High schools: Northampton, Amherst runners shine at freshman-sophomore track meet

There were plenty of impressive performances turned in by young local runners at the 29th annual Red Auerbach/MSTCA Freshman-Sophomore Meet on Sunday at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury, but none more than the ones by Northampton’s Avery Nortonsmith and Amherst Regional’s Taj Torres.

Nortonsmith was honored as the performer of the meet after a dynamic day in the small school meet.

The sophomore was a part of the first-place 4x400 relay team that posted a time of 3 minutes, 49.97 seconds. Individually, Nortonsmith was second in the high jump (5 feet, 6 inches) and third in the 600 meters (1:30.76).

Liam Sullivan, Ian Shaw and Aidan Gilson were also part of the winning relay team.

Torres, meanwhile, was the region’s lone individual winner in the large school meet. The sophomore exploded to a time of 6.60 seconds to win the 55-meter dash, besting the second-place finisher by 0.2 seconds. Torres’ time would have been good for second at last year’s state Division 1 championship, which was won in 6.52 seconds by Chelmsford’s Connor Brimely.

Northampton had two more top 10 finishes in the boys meet and three in the girls. For the boys, Benjamin Hill was fourth in the 2-mile (10:23.97), while Aidan Gilson was sixth in the 1-mile (4:49.13). On the girls end, Alexandra Dibrindisi placed fourth in the long jump (15-7.25) and sixth in the 600 (1:45.83), while the Blue Devils took seventh in the 4x200 (1:55.90).

South Hadley’s Serena Saraage took fifth in the 2-mile (12:24.85).

In the large school event, Amherst’s Allen Vance was fourth in the boys 600 (1:30.36), while fellow Hurricane Kayna Brown was seventh in the girls 55 (7.767).

HAMP HOOP HOPING FOR D-1 — Northampton athletic director Jim Miller confirmed the school’s boys and girls basketball programs had filed formal appeals to remain in Division 1 after next year’s realignment. The teams are slated to move down to Division 2 when the field is split from three divisions to four next year.

Miller said he did not know when the appeals meeting will take place.

RIBBON CUTTING — Amherst Regional will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new weight room on Jan. 17 at 1:15 p.m. The ceremony will thank the Amherst Rotary Club for granting the Hurricane Boosters with $10,000 to purchase weight equipment.

Representatives from the district administration, the high school physical education teachers and coaches, high school athletes and members of the Rotary Club will be present at the ceremony. A plaque and a banner thanking the rotary club will be posted in the weight room as well.

MILESTONES — One area girls basketball player has already reached the 1,000 career point mark this season. Two more are approaching the milestone.

Easthampton’s Elizabeth Whitney enters Friday’s game at Greenfield with 1,099 career points. Hopkins Academy’s Olivia Mathieu has 894 career points, while Hampshire’s Sarah Kober has 824 career points.

Corey Baker of Granby needs 109 points to reach the mark.

EAGLES’ STRONG START — If the hockey season ended today, Easthampton would qualify for its first postseason berth in four seasons. After being winless through eight games a year ago, the Eagles are over .500 (3-2-3) at the same point this year.

An infusion of offensive talent is the main difference. Easthampton has scored 28 goals to this point compared with 15 through the first eight games last year. The team’s leading goal scorer is Tim Pfau with eight, while Mike Grise has a team-best nine assists.

GAME OF THE WEEK — Amherst Regional at South Hadley boys basketball, Monday, 7 p.m.

These teams have met a few times recently. Amherst won 61-43 at home last season. South Hadley won 53-46 on the road in 2008-09. Monday’s game is in South Hadley for the first time since 2007-08, when the Tigers pulled out a 72-64 win in overtime.

The Hurricanes play in few Division 1 gyms that rival South Hadley’s court.

The ’Canes boost a win over defending state champion Central. The Tigers beat Chicopee in double overtime, and have played well in losses to Minnechaug and Putnam.

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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