AYER – The Ayer Shirley girls’ track and field program has been building the last few years, but it reached new heights last Saturday at the District E Division 2 Championship, as the Panthers were able to breeze to a third place finish.
For a program that features boatloads of extremely young talent, saying the future is bright is an understatement, as this bronze medal will likely just be a glimpse of what the future has to hold.
Whitinsville Christian won the meet with 88.50 points, followed by Littleton (83 points), then Ayer Shirley narrowly behind at 82.50, followed by perennial powerhouse Lunenburg with 79.
“I can’t complain, the girls performed so well everywhere,” Ayer Shirley Regional girls’ head coach Mike Seguin said. “You can second guess a million little things (being a half point away from a plaque), but when it all comes down to it, I think that it was our best performance, and we laid it all out there, so wherever the chips lied I was happy with what we did and the decisions that we made.”
“The Ayer Shirley girls over the last few years have been climbing up this ladder,” Seguin continued. “Making their way to the top, and they’ve had a lot of success the last few years. For the kids that have been in the program for a number of years, it’s really starting to pay off. So I’m super happy, and couldn’t be happier.”
Destanee Soba raced to a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.14 seconds. Soba, a middle school student, is a first-year track athlete with a ton of talent. Freshman Grace Flanagan raced to a fourth-place showing in the 100m hurdles (17.25).
Chandra Eli-Johnson placed fifth in the 200m at 27.40. The 400m hurdles were a generous source of points for the Panthers as Isabel Bresnahan (1:10.77) and Flanagan (1:14.16) took fourth and fifth respectively. Bresnahan is a first year track runner, in a very technical event, and is a mid-distance convert. She holds the school record in the event.
Flanagan completed the day with a 3-event scoring performance, with a fourth-place finish in the high jump (4-08).
Emily Churchill (1:01.06) brought home 6 points for the Maroon and White in the 400m, with a shiny bronze medal to boast, which marked the new school record, which she previously broke earlier in the season.
“(Churchill) is a hard worker,” Seguin said. “She’s only a sophomore and has plenty of time to keep growing.”
Another third-place performance was turned in by Alison Gravelle in the discus, with a toss of 86 feet, 9 inches. Gravelle is one of the few seniors in the program.
A successful day occurred in the javelin, where Churchill (100-01.50) and Ava Murphy (99-01) exited back-to-back in third and fourth place respectively.
Sastea Cherduville (4th, 16-00.50) and middle schooler J'Aliyah Mayes (8th, 15-06) featured another double-scoring event in the long jump.
With a revamped Norton Field, Ayer Shirley has the capability to compete in pole vault now, and no longer has to forfeit points in the event. Bresnahan (7-06), despite no prior experience in the vault until this year, was able to finish tied for fifth overall.
The Ayer Shirley 4x100m relay (51.73) captured a gold medal, featuring Jordan Kosakowski, Cherduville, Eli-Johnson, and Soba. The mile relay also captured gold (4:15.71), with Kosakowski, Bresnahan, Elizabeth Cruz, and Churchill cruising to a school record.
“Not only did we take first in both of those relays, but for most of these girls, this is their third event of the day,” Seguin said. “So they’ve already spent everything they have in the earlier events.”
The Panther 4x800m finished sixth to round out the scoring (11:37.42).