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Ayer Shirley’s New Reaches Unthinkable Heights Before Suffering Adversity

AYER – It was the highest level of elation for Ayer Shirley Regional High School junior Cole New when he shattered his personal record in the 600-meter run at the New England Championship and cemented himself as the second best runner in the event in New England, followed very shortly afterwards with some adversity that he will battle back from to begin this spring season. 

But New is the type of athlete who battles difficulties head on with a full tank of steam, and after showing the best college track programs in the nation what he is capable of there is a level of determination to not only replicate his previous ceiling but far exceed it.

“(New) truly bought into the program,” Ayer Shirley Regional boys indoor track and field coach Andrew St. Germain said. “He’s one of the most motivated kids I’ve ever met. I know he’s getting a lot of phone calls right now from a lot of (colleges), so we’re really excited for him to propel into his senior year next year and continue the success.” 

New was seeded as the sixth best runner entering the New England championship with a 1:23.06 personal best set at the all-state championship. The goal all season was to break 1:22 in the race, and did he ever exceed that plateau. At the New England championship New ran in the second to last heat and posted a 1:21.66, which stood best among all athletes with the exception of champion Ben Tavares of Weston High who barely edged him with a 1:21.58. 

“(New) won the unseeded heat,” St. Germain said. “The luck of the draw he was coming into that heat and he was almost in that seeded section. In retrospect he might have been able to win it, but he was really excited with his performance. It was probably one of the most awesome experiences that we’ve had as a program in a really long time.”

Unfortunately immediately after the New England championship, prior to National’s, New injured himself playing in a pick-up basketball game. The injury will keep him sidelined for the majority of the outdoor dual meet season, but he should be returning to action come championship time. 

“(He injured himself) playing basketball in gym class,” St. Germain said. “It happened right before nationals, so nationals ended up being a learning experience for our team. We went into nationals without Cole, and moved everybody around.”

The nationals sprint medley made up of James Churchill (22.9), Arthur Ribeiro (400m, 50.57), Jacob Teo (800m, 2:01.42), and Danae Arnold (200m, 23.6) had a strong showing despite being down one of its strongest legs. The quartet posted a 3:38.48. Churchill concluded his high school track career and will shift to baseball. 

“It was a really great experience for the kids,” St. German said. “We’re hoping to make the big dance again in outdoors. (New) is on track to be back in early May/late April as of recently. We’re taking everything as precautious as possible and we’re trying to slowly work him back into the program.”

New has same big name colleges expressing interest, including a few from the elite Big Ten Conference. But St. Germain is quick to point out that his success has rubbed off on the entire team, lifting the Panthers collectively to new heights. 

“I feel like he not only lifted himself, but the entire program around him,” St. Germain said. “He’s the type of kid who will forever thank me and Coach Chris Donovan and Coach Mike Seguin, and he’s forever thankful for (Ribeiro) for having him to pull him along in all of our practices and long meets.”

“We’ve got some calls with some Big Ten schools coming up,” St. Germain continued. “And he’s getting really excited about his future that’s why we’re taking this injury very seriously, and it’s (tough) for him, because the type of person he is, he’s ready to run yesterday. But he’s at practice every day helping everyone out, and I don’t know what he wants to do for a career one day, but he’d make a great coach. He's a great leader for our younger athletes.”


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