District F&G Division 1 Girls Track: Northampton overcomes small numbers to place third

By FRAN SYPEK

For the Gazette

Published: 05-20-2017 12:28 AM

HOLYOKE — The Northampton girls track and field team was up against teams with much deeper numbers.

Despite having only 14 athletes, the Blue Devils forged on and placed third Friday night in the District F & G Division 1 Championships at Holyoke High School.

Longmeadow won with 138 points with East Longmeadow second at 106. Northampton finished with 90. Amherst was fifth (45) and Belchertown 13th (13½).

The Blue Devils were pleased with the result, because they knew it took a collective effort to make it happen.

“This team is incredibly close-knit,” Jemma Fisher said. “We all have each other’s backs and we are always encouraging each other.”

Northampton’s Scarlet Sands Bliss was second in the 800 (2 minutes, 26.54 seconds) and ran a leg on the winning 4x800 relay.

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“The 800 went very well,” Sands Bliss said. “It was strong race. The 4x800 was the highlight of the day because it was a complete team effort. We each picked up one another.”

Northampton won the 4x800 in 10:08.54.

Gretchen Saveson won the 400 hurdles (1:08.70) and ran a leg in the 4x800. She also finished fourth in the 400 in 1:02.38.

“My day went much better than expected,” Saveson said. “I didn’t expect to win the 400 hurdles.”

But she did and picked up some valuable points for the Blue Devils.

“We have small numbers, but that makes us more closer,” Saveson said. “It takes a lot of work, but it pays off.”

Northampton also lost several key members due to injuries.

“We’re running for them,” Sands Bliss said.

Emma Harder was second in the 200 in 26.16. She was third in the 100 (12.79).

It was a good meet for Amherst sophomore Sophia Jacobs-Townsley. She won the mile in 5:30.74 and the 2-mile in 12:02.69.

In the 2-mile, Northampton followed in second, third and fourth: Mairead Blatner (12:32.39), Mary Yount (12:34.63) and Fisher (12:35.61).

Jacobs-Townsley battled the wind to produce times that may not have been her best, but were good enough to distance herself from the rest of the field.

Jacobs-Townsley is looking ahead to a much bigger picture.

“I want to get ready for states and nationals,” she said. “It wasn’t my all out. The wind was pretty rough. I was trying to run a tactical race.”

Last year, she finished fifth in the mile.

“I picked up speed and I’m hoping to improve,” she said. “The more the competition is, the more competitive I become.”

Amherst took second in the 4x800 (10:09.68).

Marissa Shaw was second in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches) and tied for third in the long jump (16-½) for Belchertown.

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