Division 6 track: South Hadley’s Emma Sanford claims 2 titles, school record (PHOTOS)

  • South Hadley’s Emma Sanford, center, clears a hurdle ahead of Frontier Regional’s Caroline Crocker, left, at the MIAA Division 6 Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Emma Sanford, left, approaches the 100-meter hurdles finish line ahead of Frontier Regional’s Caroline Crocker, center, at the Division 6 State Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Jonas Clarke sprints to victory in the boys 100-meter dash at the MIAA Division 6 Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Emma Sanford won the girls high jump at the Division 6 State Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Emma Sanford clears a hurdle in the preliminary heat of hte girls 100-meter hurdles at the Division 6 State Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier Regional's Jack Vecellio cleared 16 feet, 6 inches to win the boys pole vault at the Division 6 Track & Field Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier Regional's Jack Vecellio cleared 16 feet, 6 inches to win the boys pole vault at the Division 6 Track & Field Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier Regional’s Erich Brown was second in the boys high jump at the Division 6 Track & Field State Championships on Monday at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2022 9:02:57 PM

WESTFIELD — Hurdles still make South Hadley junior Emma Sanford nervous. Not because she’s afraid of wiping out over one — that’s already happened at practice and she’s come through the other side. 

They’re just new to her, even still. 

“I’m still really focusing on my form. As I get more consistent, I put more pressure on myself to stay consistent and also continue to improve,” Sanford said.

Sanford showed her mastery at the MIAA Division 6 Outdoor Track & Field Championships Monday at Westfield State University. She won the girls 100-meter hurdles title in 15.16 seconds, breaking a school record that had stood since 1992. Carrie Turbin set the original mark, and Emma Rahilly tied it in 2019. She didn’t realize how close she was until coach Nick Davis told her she was a tenth of a second away.

“I didn’t realize it stayed that long and was that old of a record. Most of them seem really recent,” Sanford said.

She edged Uxbridge’s Kathryn Cahill (15.3) for the victory, while Frontier’s Caroline Crocker placed third (15.75) to qualify for the MIAA Meet of Champions later this week back in Westfield. 

The top three finishers in each event from all six divisional meets automatically qualify, then the remaining spots are allocated to the top-performing fourth-place finishers.

It was Stanford’s second state title of the day and third of the meet. She won the pentathlon on Thursday and captured the high jump title Monday, clearing 5 feet, 2 inches and winning a jump-off against Monument Mountain’s Lily Haskins-Vaughn. 

“For some reason I was struggling jumping up today rather than I was finding myself dumping into the bar rather than going up and then going over,” Sanford said. “So we had to, as the heights went up, I had to adjust my mark more so I would actually go up rather than push into the bar and I'd move my jump forwards instead of backwards.”

Sanford isn’t the only Tiger heading back to South Hadley with hardware. Senior Jonas Clarke sprinted to the 100-meter dash title in 10.45 seconds, burning away from the rest of the field by 0.78 seconds. No one else broke 11 seconds.

“It’s kind of a me versus me type situation, which is definitely good with focusing on how I’m going to run,” Clarke said. “Hopefully we get it together for all-states.”

Clarke was aiming for the state record of 10.36, set by Ayer’s Mike Morris in 1981. He didn’t like his finish from the preliminary round or his start from the finals. 

“I’m going to dip into those 10.3s. I’m speaking it into existence right now,” Clarke said. “I’m gonna dip into those 10.3s and make it a consistency.”

Frontier Regional’s Jack Vecellio won the boys pole vault on his first attempt. He entered the competition at 14-6, a full foot higher than any other competitor.

“I just want to get an easy clearance, secure the win and just go from there,” Vecellio said.

The Clemson commit cleared that easily to claim the state title then kept going to claim 16-6 as the victorious mark. It was his best mark of the high school season but short of his personal record at 17-0, which happened in a club meet.

“It was a little bit of a fistfight, but we stayed in it,” Vecellio said. “I had a lot of misses, so it was a lot of jumps on a hot day, but I fought my way through it.”

Fellow Redhawk Erich Brown was second in the high jump (6-2).

Hampshire Regional’s Adrian Dybacki took eighth (5-8), while Ryan O’Donnell of Easthampton finished 10th (5-8).

Hampshire’s Grace Plumer was eighth in the girls high jump (5-0).

Lilly Novak of Frontier placed fifth in the girls javelin (82-11), and Cady Wells-Robinson was sixth in the shot put (29-2).

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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