Deep Northampton girls track finishes first in West/Central
KANYA BROWN, AMHERST REGIONAL Purchase photo reprints »
ADRIENNE PASCUCCI, NORTHAMPTON Purchase photo reprints »
The Northampton girls track and field team celebrates after winning Monday's Western/Central Division 1 championship meet at Fitchburg State. MIKE MORAN Purchase photo reprints »
FITCHBURG — The Northampton girls track & field team’s depth came through in a big way Monday.
With Khaila Ramirez sidelined with a leg injury, Izabelle Ness took her position in the final race, the 4x400-meter relay.
Ness ran what was expected from her but the Blue Devils trailed. Mia Toffoli took the baton, made up the difference and gave Sierra Loomis a lead.
Loomis held and Alexandra Dibrindisi anchored the Blue Devils to a championship-clinching first-place finish at Fitchburg State University.
Northampton won the inaugural West/Central Division 1 championship with 79.5 points. Wachusett was second with 71 and Algonquin third with 60. Amherst Regional was fourth with 58 points.
“It’s an exciting feeling,” Toffoli said. “It’s definitely unexpected because coming back from not having won at western Mass. last year to winning Western/Central this year, everyone put everything they had out there.”
Wachusett pulled closer during the relays. The Mountaineers placed fifth to Northampton’s eighth in the 4x100 and were second to Hamp’s sixth in the 4x800.
Ness had never run a relay with so much at stake before. The Blue Devils finished in 4 minutes, 6.07 seconds. Wachusett was third in 4:11.93.
“Having a strong team unit and having some things fall your way,” Hamp coach Brian Frodema said. “People come out during big meets.”
Senior Adrienne Pascucci and Dibrindisi gave the Blue Devils a big lift.
Coming right off a victory in the 400 hurdles in 66.93 seconds, Pascucci set a personal best of 5 foot, 4 inches in the high jump. She later finished fourth in the 100 hurdles in 16.72.
“Since (the 5-4 jump) was right after my 400 hurdles, I had to focus more on my form,” Pascucci said. “Usually when it gets to a high height I just run at it too fast. Since it was after the hurdles I wasn’t going to run too fast. I had to focus on driving my knee and arching my back.”
Dibrindisi set a personal best in the long jump, clearing 17-2 on her second jump. It was the first time she reached 17 feet. It wasn’t the last. On her final jump, Dibrindisi hit 17-6 to win. She was also second in the 400 in 60.00.
“Knowing that I was capable of breaking 17, finally, was a big breaking point,” Dibrindisi said. “I felt like it could go even further.”
Toffoli joined Dibrindisi in the 400 and placed fifth (60.54) in a tight finish. It was one of the many middle to lower places that made a difference for Northampton.
“There’s not one performance out there where we fell short,” Toffoli said. “Fro(dema) told us to focus on what we can do individually and the results would come together.”
Freshman Erica Dean placed fourth (2:23.94) in the 800, while Leah Tompkins tied for fourth (5-2) in the high jump.
Sophie Sharp (seventh, 16-4) and Ramirez (eighth, 16-2) joined Dibindisi in the long jump. Ramirez hurt her leg on her final jump, but Frodema expected her to be ready for Saturday’s All-State meet at Westfield State University.
Lauren McGrath added a second-place finish in the discus with a toss of 96-7.
“We have such a strong team, so many strong athletes, that even if one of our best competitors gets hurt, we still have so many people capable of taking their place, taking one for the team,” Dibrindisi said. “That’s what really got us to where we are today.”
Amherst was in third place with one event left. The pole vault wasn’t finished when the 4x400 ended. Algonquin went 1-2-3 to jump from sixth to third.
Amherst’s Mel Devoney opened the girls meet with a first-place finish in the 2-mile. The senior stayed right on Pittsfield’s Lauren Farry’s heals for six laps then took over. Devoney won by over two seconds in 11:37.49.
Sophomore Kanya Brown, meanwhile, followed classmate Taj-Amir Torres’ win in the boys 100 dash with one of her own. Brown pulled away from Central’s Diamante Spencer to win in 12.78 seconds. Spencer finished in 12.90.
“I was so nervous I didn’t think I’d win,” Brown said. “I just tried to stay relaxed and thought about myself.”
The Hurricanes also earned key performances from Emma Biggs, who was third in the 200 in 26.59. Jessemmie Rietkerk was fourth in the 400 (60.31) and Anna Kaplan was second in the mile (5:23.46).
Ariel Christie picked up a sixth in the 400 hurdles (68.39), while the relays grabbed a third (4x100), fifth (4x400) and third (4x800).
“We didn’t do as well as we thought,” said Brown, who teamed with Christie, Natalia Ciesielska and Biggs in the 4x100.
South Hadley finished 14th with 18 points, led by the 4x800 relay which was fourth.
The top four places advance to All-States.
Mike Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.