West Tisbury girls, Edgartown boys junior high track champs

Rose Engler of Oak Bluffs led the pack in the girls mile. — Photo by Susan Safford

The undefeated Edgartown boys team and the once-defeated West Tisbury girls team won the hotly-contested All-Island interscholastic track championships last Friday afternoon at the Martha Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) track.

The eight-event meet featured several stellar individual performances by eighth-graders, which bodes well for future MVRHS track teams.

Girls standings in the championship meet which concluded a five-meet season: West Tisbury (55.33 points), Oak Bluffs (52), Edgartown (44.66), Martha’s Vineyard Charter School (12) and Tisbury (3). In the boy’s event, Edgartown (58 points) was followed by Tisbury (52), West Tisbury (40) and Oak Bluffs (17). Charter school boys competed as individuals.

“There were some outstanding performances on Friday,” said Todd Deely, West Tisbury coach and assistant track coach at MVRHS, after the championship meet. “On the girls side, Ewellen Carlos dominated the shot put and discus events for Edgartown and West Tisbury’s Genny Kent was the top scorer in the girls meet, winning the hurdles, long jump, and 100 meters and placing third in the long jump.

“It was a very close meet. There are lots of really good eighth-graders on the Island. We are looking forward to seeing them at the high school.”

The mile run was one of the most anticipated events, pitting Kelly Klaren, the long jump winner, against Oak Bluffs’ Rose Engler. Kelly had handed Rose her only loss earlier in the season and Miss Engler was coming off an impressive win at The Vineyard House 5K Columbus Day run earlier in the week.

The girls made it a two-woman race early, and they finished more than a minute ahead of the field. Rose used a strong finishing kick to record her best time (6:07) of the season to edge Kelly.

Other girls event winners included Kathleen Alves (Oak Bluffs), who won the 200 meters and placed third in the long jump.

On the boys side, Gabe Bellebuono finished first in three events (200 meters, mile, and discus) and second in shot put, piling up major points for West Tisbury.”That was a monster day: Gabe just had a monster day,” Mr. Deely said.

Cole Houston of Tisbury won both the shot put and the long jump and took second in the 100 meters, edging out Ricardo Andrade of the Charter School in both events. Andrade won the 100 meters and placed second in the shot put and long jump. John Morris (Edgartown) won both the shot put and hurdles to complete the boys winner circle. “Those kids dominated the (boys) meet,” Mr. Deely said.

Results aside, the meet, attended by a fan base of several hundred chatty family and friends and five amiable dogs, was a low-stress environment that produced opportunities for kids just to try. Charter school coach Timothy Penicaud, for example, had an idea for Sydney Jasny, after she took second in the hurdles and in the 100 meter event.

“Sydney, you’d be perfect for the long jump,” he told the tall lean sprinter. Miss Jasny looked a bit uncertain about the wisdom of his idea, but agreed to a quick and successful long jump primer on the track infield, then headed off to sign up for her first-ever long jump.

Edgartown’s Jimmy McKeon was an anxious parent before his diminutive daughter Emily toed the line for the first heat of the 100 meters. “She’s so much smaller than the other kids,” he worried, just before the Edgartown sixth-grader came boiling down the track to finish among the leaders and ultimately to place seventh among bigger and older peers under the watchful eye of her six-year-old brother Shamus.

Before the meet, Oak Bluffs coach Teri Arias was pointedly directive on only one aspect of her team’s performance. “Guys! Guys!. Put your bags down here. Right here, not all over the place,” she commanded. “It really cuts down on lost schoolbooks and equipment,” she said to an onlooker in an aside.

Teri, longtime pitcher for the two-time champion Creamers in the women’s summer softball league, is comfortable with intense competition, but she showed special enthusiasm for the team’s pre-meet cheer.

“Stick around. You’ll want to see this,” she told an onlooker. “It’s fantastic and the kids made it up themselves.” Then the 21 boys and girls swayed and chanted in a large circle, before ending with an explosive “O.B!” and high-fives.

Watching kids run, jump and throw, largely for the fun of it, is an unusual experience in the increasingly stressed out world of amateur athletics. Fans chuckled, for example, as West Tisbury’s Hunter Athearn slowed to grin and wave at his dad during warm-ups for his sprint event.

“Hunter, look at the track, not at me,” Brian Athearn yelled with a smile, before returning to his tutorial on the care and feeding of sheep to a slightly queasy group of friends and neighbors trackside.

And looming competition did not deter Edgartown hurdler Aidan Nunes and teammate John Habekost from stopping by to check in with Aidan’s grandparents, Shirley and Ted Dewing of Edgartown.

“Do we win want to win? Sure, and the best part is getting to dump water on our teammates if we do,” Jon said, evidencing a remarkable grasp of well-aligned adolescent priorities.