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Ayer Shirley Girls’ Track Shines Taking Runner-Up at District’s

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BOSTON – There was a big blue target standing in the way of the Ayer Shirley Regional girls’ indoor track and field team, and despite not being able to overtake perennial district-powerhouse Lunenburg High, the Panthers did the next best thing, taking the highly coveted runners-up trophy. Several athletes boasted personal bests as the Maroon and White outperformed expectations at the District E Division 2 Championship, then followed it up last Wednesday with a strong showing at the MIAA Division 5 State Championship. 


Lunenburg won the district championship with 92.32 points, followed by Ayer Shirley with 55.16 points, and Littleton with 48 points. 


“We’re usually one of the smaller schools at district’s,” Ayer Shirley Regional girls’ indoor track and field head coach Mike Seguin said. “I think everybody knew that Lunenburg had so many great athletes, in so many events, that it was theirs to win and everybody else was fighting for second. Our goal going into it was to try and move people around and do our best to take the district runner-up.”


At the district championship Chandra Eli-Johnson put on quite the show. Eli-Johnson finished second in the 300m dash (43.41) then doubled back taking third in the long jump (15-10). 


“(Eli-Johnson) is an incredible all-around athlete,” Seguin said. “This year she’s scored points for us in the high jump, 300m, 55m, 4x200m relay, 4x400m relay, and long jump. We had some high jumpers we were going to rely on, and in long jump sometimes you hit that mark and sometimes you don’t, but she was able to step up and jump one of her furthest jumps of her career and that came in third. All around she had one of the best days.”


The long jump was a particularly successful event for the Panthers as Sastea Cherduville captured second with a 16-05. Cherduville also placed fourth in the 55m dash (7.66). 


“(Cherduville) is a great little Swiss Army knife for us,” Seguin said. “But our plan if we wanted to do well at district’s was to have a really good performance from her in the long jump. Long jump is a difficult event to practice and get ready for when it’s the wintertime. We were lucky enough to have the facilities to practice and work on it, and she did. That was our secret weapon, the long jump, and she stepped up, hit a great mark with the personal record (PR).”


The Maroon and White also had great success in the mid distance events, with Isabel Bresnahan taking second (1:41.45) in the 600m. 


“(Bresnahan) is an incredible competitor,” Seguin said. “She’s probably her own toughest critic. She’s trying to get a PR every time that she runs. When it happens it’s great and she’s a phenomenal runner. Her 600m run at district’s was the best of her season. Then she came back and ran the anchor leg of the 4-by-4.”


Ada Perwak captured fourth in the 55m hurdles (9.87) while teammate Devin Delyani finished sixth (10.10).


“Ada Perwak took fourth with a PR and she needed that to get into state’s,” Seguin said. “So this was her last chance, and she just came through with such an incredible performance and ran a lifetime best. Devin Delyani, a senior captain, took this moment to run her best time too.” 


The 4x200m relay captured gold racing to a 1:48.40, while the mile relay finished fourth (4:24.96). Elizabeth Cruz, Cherduville, Eli-Johnson, and Jordan Kosakowski composed the 4x200m relay. 


Cruz tied for fourth in the high jump (4-08), and J’aliyah Mayes took home sixth in the long jump (14-10) to round out the scoring. 


North Reading won the Division 5 state championship with 47.5 points, followed by Lunenburg with 40 points, and Weston with 36 points. Ayer Shirley finished eighth with 21 points. 


“There were 72 schools at state’s,” Seguin said. “Every other state division has 30 or 40 schools in it. So that’s a lot of schools and kids to compete against. We have some really big schools there that are tough to get around. We’re super proud of the kids on the team that have worked hard all season to get to this point. We knew we wouldn’t be competing for a state title with those bigger schools. Our goal going in was to see if we could do our best, could we set a PR (personal record) or set a school record.”


At the state division 5 championship Cherduville put forth a stellar performance in the 55m, racing to a second-place finish with a 7.43. She also reeled in seventh in the long jump (16-01). 


“Carli Stanford of Lunenburg is one of the premier sprinters in the state and has been,” Seguin said. “For most people she was looked upon as unbeatable. So for (Cherduville) to step up and to really come from not being ranked, to place, to make finals, and then to run even faster to shoot all the way up to runner-up is an incredible testament to her work ethic and abilities.”


The Ayer Shirley 4x200m relay finished a strong third with a 1:49.48. The mile relay finished fifth at 4:16.27. 


Carolyn Mason stole the final point in the 1,000m (3:15.22). 


“I don’t think (Mason) placed in the districts and what a great turnaround,” Seguin said. “We were trying to find a home for her, we moved her from the 2 to the 1 to the 1,000m, and she just showed up at the state meet ready to perform and ready to do her best, and she absolutely broke out with that. She wasn’t supposed to place at all, she was toward the bottom of the list.”


“She absolutely crushed her time,” Seguin continued. “She came from the unseeded heat and won the unseeded meet, it was just a wonderful surprise for her and the team, and a great moment for her to redeem her season.”


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