All-State Track: Northampton’s Nik Smith sprints to 200 dash title

  • Nik Smith, of Northampton, right, sprints to a win in the 200-meter dash during the Central/West Division 1 Track & Field Championship. On Saturday, Smith won the 200 at the All-State Championships. GAZETTE FILE

For the Gazette
Published: 6/4/2016 11:03:19 PM

WESTFIELD -- Nik Smith envisioned a two-man race and when his chief rival could not run due to injury, he knew it was his race to lose.

Smith didn’t disappoint. He won the 200-meter dash Saturday at the All-State Track & Field Championship at Westfield State University to lead the Blue Devils to a fourth-place finish with 25 points.

Northampton was only four points shy of second place, but 27 points behind state champion Newton North (52 points).

Smith’s time in the 200 was 21.64 seconds. Smith, who was seeded first, was not able to run against highly regarded rival Abu Ceesay of Norton. Ceesay has been sidelined with an injury.

“This feels great because I didn’t really anticipate this moment for a while,” Smith said. “It would have been a two-horse race had he run and he might have come away with a victory.”

Smith thought his time would come next season when he’s a senior. Still, he had to stave off some fierce competition to emerge as the best 200-meter runner in the Commonwealth.

Smith was able to ignore the pressure of being seeded first.

“I just let myself, be myself, and ran my race,” he said. “I was definitely thinking about this race a lot.”

Smith also placed fourth the 100-meter dash in 10.99.

“The 200 is my best event,” he said. “It’s really about speed.”

Smith was also part of Northampton’s 4x400 relay team, which was upset by Natick.

“Being seeded first did put pressure on us,” Smith said. “But we worked well together.”

Natick won the event in 3:18.51, which is a meet record. The old mark of 3:18.55 had stood since Brockton set it in 1979.

Northampton was second in 3:21.18. That time established a school record.

The relay team of  Smith, Jeremy Doele, Marcus Peterson and Cole Lavalle was coming off a first-place finish at the Central/West Division 1 meet the previous week with a then-school record 3:22.25.

Cornell-bound Liam Sullivan of Northampton placed eighth in the 2-mile in 9:37.89. Favorite and Stanford-bound Thomas Ratcliffe of Concord-Carlisle won in 9:00.52.

Sage Bailin of Amherst finished 10th in the 400-meter hurdles in  57.15.

Dylan Cross of Hampshire tied for ninth in the pole vault at 12-feet, 6 inches.

Girls championship

When Sophia Jacobs-Townsley looked at the seeds for the 2-mile, she saw that she was listed 11th.

The Amherst Regional freshman hoped she would do better than that. Her goal was to qualify for New Englands.

“I gave myself a 50-50 chance,” she said. “I was happy I was able to move up. I learned that you just need to race smart and go with where the setting takes you.”

No underclassmen finished higher than Jacobs-Townsley, who was fifth behind four seniors with a time of 11:07.38.

“It was a lot more hot than I thought it would be,” said Jacobs-Townsley, who had to deal with even warmer weather a week earlier in winning the 2-mile at the Central/West Division 1 meet.

“It thought it would take a heck of a race for me to make it to New Englands,” she said. “I was very happy with what I did.”

She made sure she did not start out too fast. She picked her spot to make her move.

“The competition today was so good,” she said. “It scared me at first, but halfway through the race, I gave myself one last push.”

Taylor Blow of Hampshire Regional finished 11th in the event in 11:25.31.

Sierra Loomis of  Northampton was fifth in the 400-meter hurdles in 1:05.44.

Frances Duncan of Amherst was ninth in the 800 (2:16.91).

Defending high jump champ Katt Miner of Frontier Regional finished 13th. She matched last week’s Central/West winning leap of 5-2, but it wasn’t enough to enable her to qualify for New Englands.


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