So many choices, just enough time

Indoor track team will have lots of opportunities to succeed.

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Peter Burke anchored the 4 x 800 relay in a race last year. — Charlie Utz

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) indoor track program begins the 2019–20 season with a different look. 

First, the Vineyarders are without the presence of all-everything trackster Mackenzie Condon, now at Harvard College, and field event star Nate Packer (now a Bridgewater State University Bear) whose performances helped to power an MVRHS track renaissance in recent years.  On the other hand, they have the talents of much of the boys cross-country unit that won a state championship, and many of a girls cross-country group that starred in divisional and state competition last month.

Coach Joe Schroeder, with 33 years at the MVRHS track and field helm, likes his group this season, following up a statewide fourth place in D5 for boys and a ninth-place ranking for girls.

“We have some depth among the girls sprinters, more sprinters than we’ve ever had, and lots of potential combinations for relay events, with a mix of freshmen and sophomores and steady leadership from seniors like Maia Bellebuono. Leadership is so important in all these events, it makes a difference; and I’m excited to see how the girls perform,” he said. The girls squad has senior leaders in Ashley Biggs, Bellebuono, Catherine Cherry, Linda Borges, and captains Paige Pogue and Tyla Packish.

Schroeder and Assistant Coach Joel Graves will spend time sorting and matching skills and events. “There’s a lot of unknowns with the girls. For example, how to match among the freshman and sophomore group. Our girls are strong in distance, and we are deep but young in sprinters.

“Last year, Mackenzie [Condon] scored most of our points, but the kids saw what is possible, and they are more experienced. We have the opportunity to compete again for a Top 10 place,” he said. 

Captains Peter Burke and Dash Christy will lead a squad that finished fourth statewide in D5, backed by seniors Vito Aiello (a big reason behind the team’s cross-country state championship last month), JoJo Bonneau, and Daniel Rivard.

“Last year Dash and JoJo went first and third in the hurdles. Huge, got us 16 points in the championships, only 10 points behind Seekonk, which won it all,” Schroeder said. “We know Borja [Tolay] will be a player, and Peter Burke is still on a mission. He finished first or second in every cross-country meet this year. A healthy Zach Utz will be up there with Peter. Our relay teams will be exciting to watch. The 4×800 team just missed state qualifiers last year.” Indeed, a 4×800 team of Jonathan Norton, Zach Utz, Isaac Richards, and Peter Burke set a new school record early in the season last year.

“There are lots of possibilities in the relays; we’re deep in distance runners, and though we’ve lost some soccer players who didn’t sign up this year, we will be right there at the end,” Schroeder said.

This season, the indoor track program has made the leap from the Eastern Athletic Conference to the Cape and Islands League, and will compete against Barnstable, Dennis-Yarmouth, Falmouth, Nauset, and Sandwich. The season begins on Dec. 17 with a meet against Falmouth at 3:30 pm at Wheaton College in Norton.