Vineyard runners win at Division 5 championships

Zach Utz, 4 x 800 relay team snag first place


The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School indoor track team snagged two top spots in the MIAA Division Five Championship meet last week.

The boys team scored a total of 32 points, tying with Dover-Sherborn for fifth place at the meet, which Assistant Coach Donald Brown said was impressive, considering the Vineyarders are in Division Five.

The top performances were from Zach Utz, who won the boys mile with a 4:23 time, Jonathan Norton, who placed third in the 1,000-meter with a 2:38 time, and the boys 4 x 800-meter relay team, who landed first place with a 8:19 time. Additionally, athletes from both the boys and girls teams secured new personal bests, Brown said.

Next up for the boys team is the all-state meet on Saturday. Utz, Norton, and the 4 x 800 relay team made up of Utz, Norton, Duncan Brown, and Daniel da Silva will all compete.

“Our relay team was so good it would have won Division 4 and Division 3,” Brown said, adding that the Vineyard is placed in Division 5 because of the size of its school population, but its race times have it more on the competitive level of bigger schools.

Brown said he was especially impressed by the relay team, because four runners need to wake up the day of the meet, get in sync, and run at the top of their game.

Utz is now headed to the Big Apple for the New Balance Nationals at the Armory next month. Utz already qualified for the emerging elite mile category, but his 4:23 winning time at the Division championships puts him only a few seconds shy of a 4:19 mile. If he runs the 4:19 mile at all-states next weekend, he will qualify for the elite mile race, pitting him against the best high school runners in the nation.

The boys 4 x 800 relay team is also within reach of a nationals bid. Brown said the team’s 8:19 winning time last weekend is only two seconds away from a nationals qualification, but talk of nationals competition is taboo for now.

“There is an outside shot that these guys go to New Englands,” Brown said referring to the New England championships, which pits the best runners from around New England.

The girls team finished in a tie for 26th at the divisional championships. Alexa Schroder ran a personal best time in the mile, finishing her season with a 5:29 time. The girls team scored 3.5 points, all from Eloise Christy’s fifth-place finish in the high jump, leaping to 4 feet and 10 inches. Brown said Christy was especially impressive since she was coming off an illness. Other notable performances came from Ashlei Clarke, who finished strong.

Overall, Brown said, he has been proud of the team’s performance this season. “Our workouts are building strength and staying in shape,” Brown said. “But this year these guys were so focused; it’s great to watch.”