Indoor track: Amherst’s 4x800 meter relay team enjoying historic season with big meets still ahead

By BRADYN COTE

Staff Intern

Published: 02-28-2024 11:00 AM

With the 2024 indoor track season on the cusp of wrapping up in western Massachusetts, teams geared up to race at the MIAA Meet of Champions hosted at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center last weekend.

Arguably one of the most competitive meets of the year, one team in particular had the date circled on its calendar, yearning for the opportunity to run against other elite runners in the Commonwealth – the Amherst Regional boys’ 4x800-meter relay squad.

Composed of some of the most talented and high caliber 800 meter runners in western Mass., Amherst’s quartet of Nico Lisle, Kyle Yanko, Miguel Pinero-Jacome and David Pinero-Jacome dominated their competition all season long without any other team able to push them.

“We have run the 4x800 four times this year and have destroyed every team that we've run against – we haven't seen any teams that are better than or equal to us,” Amherst distance coach Bob Rosen said prior to the Meet of Champions. “And this time [at the Meet of Champions], we will have that opportunity, and I think we can run very well, but we need the competition.”

All four legs of the relay team were experienced and knew what it is like to take out and lead a race. Having won last year’s western Mass. 4x800 outdoor relay title, as well as this year's indoor relay, the Hurricanes were conditioned and credit their success to the dynamic of coach Rosen’s training.

“Our training is really more about listening to our body. It's not built in, we just listen to how our bodies are feeling at the moment,” said David Pinero-Jacome. “I know that other coaches like to have strict workouts and strict days and a certain amount of reps and a certain amount of times, but the way Bob coaches is very much about listening to the athletes' needs and responding to that.”

From the beginning of the indoor season, the relay team strategically planned how to properly train and become the most healthy and effective in time for the postseason – where every second matters.

“It’s all about building that mental strength as well as physical strength,” said Miguel Pinero-Jacome. “We start off our season with kind of building our base, and then as the season progresses, we do a lot of tempo stuff, and a lot of aerobic stuff. As we get closer to the end of the postseason, we start carrying our speed.”

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Each practice, workout and meet led this dominant relay to the Meet of Champions, where their physicality and training was put to the test. Placed in the fast heat, ranked 10th of 12 teams, Amherst had the cards dealt in their favor.

“We've been running from the front every race this season so it's gonna be nice to not have to lead the whole time,” said Ryan Yanko prior to the race.

The Amherst relay followed the order of Lisle, Yanko, Miguel Pinero-Jacome, and anchor David Pinero-Jacome. Lisle was specifically placed in the lead-off leg as he has the fastest 800m time out of the group.

“I try not to think about it too much, it's not that big a deal at the end of the day,” said Lisle. ”I think they're gonna bring out the best in us and we're gonna have a really fast time, and I'm excited for it.”

All of the Amherst boys were running on fresh legs despite other qualifications for the day, as they wanted to specifically focus on the task at hand. The plan was for Lisle to take it out and get near the front of the pack, and when he felt comfortable and ready, he was to take the lead in the first leg of the race.

“A guy from Lowell went out really quickly, Nico chased him, and the two separated from everyone else,” said Coach Rosen. “With about 250 meters left, Nico ran past him and then ran away from him in the last 100 meters. We had the lead in the whole state after one leg and the other guys battled – it was very competitive. At the end, David was being chased by, I'm not sure what school it was, but on the last turn, the guy tried to pass David and he held him off to the finish.”

The Amherst 4x800 squad was able to secure an impressive third-place (8:06.25) finish in the state. The quartet was rewarded with a stellar seven-second PR after David Pinero-Jacome beat out another athlete on the final stretch. Lisle opened up the race in 1:58.79, Yanko split a 2:05, Miguel set up the final leg running a 2:01, and David closed hard in two minutes flat.

Not only was the time a PR, but the relay also qualified for the 36th New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 2, as well as New Balance Nationals Mach 7-9 where they will end their season on the grandest stage of them all competing at the highest level of high school track and field.