MVRHS relay national qualifiers search for funding

The boys broke the MVRHS 4x800 school record.

(L to R): MVRHS track and field head coach Donald Brown with the 4x800 team Zach Utz, Jonathan Norton, Daniel Serpa, and Daniel da Silva. — Charlie Utz

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) track and field team’s 4×800 relay group, consisting of Jonathan Norton, Daniel Serpa, Daniel da Silva, and Zach Utz, qualified for the Nike National Championships during the 2022 season. To finance the boys’ travels to Eugene, Ore., for the championships, a GoFundMe campaign was launched by MVRHS track and field Head Coach Don Brown. 

Brown told The Times the money raised will go toward lodging, food, and travel, among other costs for the trip.

“I was shocked at how quickly it added up,” Brown said. “It’s also the law of supply and demand. Everyone is going out for nationals. Everywhere is full. It’s not just a hundred people going. It’s thousands.”

Getting the Oregon trip logistics together was “incredible. Not in a good way,” according to Brown. 

During the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association Coaches Invitational meet on May 14, held at Boston College High School, the 4×800 team earned first place and a finishing time of 8:03.30, which was three seconds under the qualifying standard, and a MVRHS school record, according to Brown. The former record was also made by this group of runners, which has now been broken by 10 seconds. 

“It was a rough day, too,” Brown said, mentioning how Boston was “blazing hot” compared to the Island’s cool spring weather. 

Besides the 4×800, two of the students qualified for other races for nationals. Brown said that Utz qualified for the one-mile race and Jonathan Norton qualified for the steeplechase

“It’s just a talented group,” Brown said. “They just work hard, they’re focused right now, they have a good perspective on things, and they have just enough pressure. My job is to kind of regulate that pressure they put on themselves.”

Self-imposed pressure can at times make athletes overwork to live up to expectations, but Brown said the students are “still holding steady and believe in the plan.”

“We’re very excited. We’re very proud of them,” MVRHS athletics director Mark McCarthy said. He said usually one or so students will head to a national-level championships like this. Multiple students going is rare. “We’re in virgin territory.” 

The GoFundMe campaign, which can be found at, has a goal of earning $10,000. Within five days, $8,805 was raised. According to the page, the money will be given to Go Vineyard Running, Inc., which is the nonprofit booster club for MVRHS cross-country and indoor and outdoor track programs that help fill in the gaps for funding. 

“I didn’t want to start taking advantage of everybody’s generosity, so we get what we get to defray the costs, and we’re grateful for anything,” Brown said, aware that $10,000 may be a lot to ask of the booster club. He said many people who donated are runners or were former MVRHS racers themselves, which was “heartwarming.”

While the track and field team is getting ready for the Divisional Championships coming up on Saturday, Brown said he is confident about the four young men’s ability to run at nationals. 

“I think they’re going to break that,” Brown said of the school record they recently set.