The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) boys varsity track team came out on top with first place in the 4×800 emerging elite event with a time of 7:53.23 during the 2022 Nike Outdoor National Championships at the University of Oregon. The 4×800 team consisted of Zach Utz, Jonathan Norton, Daniel Serpa, and Daniel da Silva.
“I’m very proud of them,” MVRHS head track and field Coach Don Brown said. The Vineyarders were the ninth seed, and surpassed the eight teams ranked above them to grab the gold.
Brown told The Times there were some difficulties with getting the athletes to the Nike Nationals, such as COVID and Daniel da Silva’s wrist injury. Daniel ran with a cast on after getting surgery in Boston. “It was painful, but he ran the splits he needed to run, and he kept us in the race,” Brown said. “He definitely exceeded the day.”
Funding the trip was another concern for the team. However, the community came together to support the team through the GoFundMe campaign, which raised $12,235.
“We are beyond appreciative of that,” Brown said. “We could not have done it without the community. I think we raised the money in four days to go. It was really humbling.”
Two of the boys competed in other races as well. Jonathan Norton earned 23rd place in the boys 2,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 6:28.77, and Zach Utz earned eighth place in the boys one-mile emerging elite race, with a time of 4:18.23.
Prior to the Nike Nationals, the boys attempted and failed to qualify for the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championships, with Utz being the only one to compete in the one-mile race. Brown told The Times despite this, the boys worked hard to get back on their feet to aim high once again.
“We’ve been working on this since November. It was 200-plus days to get to this point,” Brown said. “What sets these guys apart, and what sets you apart in life, it’s not that you fail, that’s just part of life; it’s keep coming back. These guys did. I think that’s what defines a champion, right? It’s not how many times you fail; it’s how many times you get back up.”
Although the results are favorable, Brown said that is only a part of what makes the MVRHS team great. He said the team consistently worked to help each other get better. “I like these guys not for what they run, I like how they run,” Brown said. “That’s the bigger picture here, how they pursued it.”
The national championships 4×800 was the last race the four athletes will run as a team, with seniors Norton headed off to Connecticut College and Utz to Middlebury College, to continue their studies and track careers.
“It’s not the end of a book, it’s the end of this chapter,” Brown said. “They’re solid guys, and it’s been a privilege to work with them.”