The strategy was there.
Beth Powderly was ready to execute it.
The Watertown High senior went undefeated through the Middlesex League in dual meets this year and opted to take on a talented mile field in the Middlesex League Championships. One of the top distance runners in the league throughout her Raider career, she had battled to stay among the elite over the last year, and this was another chance for her to prove she belonged in that class.
That’s exactly what Powderly did as she ran 5 minutes, 28.72 seconds to improve her seed time for Division 5 States with a fourth-place finish overall.
“Beth had a really good race,” Watertown coach Kimberly Usseglio said on the eve of States. “We picked out some times for her to hit as a strategy to get her best time and she was able to outrun her splits all the way through.”
Usseglio said Powerdly is now running as well as she ever has with the Raiders.
“She has worked on running under control, and relaxing, and that’s definitely working for her,” Usseglio said. “It’s mentally staying with it through the entire race and running her race. Not paying attention too much to all of the elements around her.
“She is really focused this season and is having a really good year.”
Powderly was one of three Raiders set to run in the mile at Division 5 States – along with Emily Koufos and Lakshmi Thangaraj.
Koufos jumped up to the 2-mile for the first time this season at the Middlesex League Championships and broke Powderly’s school record in the event with a first place in 11:28.01.
“We didn’t get an opportunity to run it during dual meets,” Usseglio said, “but coming off a great cross country season we wanted to put it out there for her and see where she would be best to run at States.
“She really pushed herself in the race. She put in the effort to get that new school record.”
Usseglio said she was also happy with the aggressiveness that Thangaraj showed in her race.
“She put herself out there,” the coach said. “She took the stance that she was going to push herself at the beginning rather than lay back and play it safe. She wound up with a finishing time that was fast enough to make States.”
Rose Muldrew was Watertown’s other individual placer with a fourth in the dash in 7.77 seconds. She was sixth in the preliminaries before improving to fourth in the finals in bettering her seed time for States.
Abigael Peterson was 10th in the high jump at 4 feet, 9 inches with a leap that Usseglio said will help her moving forward.
“They started at a higher height at the Middlesex meet so that was good for her to experience that,” the coach said. “That can be tough mentally because a lot of times they get used to progressing up, so now she knows she can start higher and keep moving up.”
Watertown’s other qualifier is the 4x200 relay of Muldrew, Christine Saroufim, Melanie Alberico and Gabriella Cacia. That team made the States' mark with its 1:57.05 at the Middlesex meet.
“They had really good handoffs,” Usseglio said, “which allowed them to be more fluid from start to finish.”
The Raiders also found out their Middlesex League All-Stars on Tuesday with Koufos being named co-Most Valuable Player. Powderly, Muldrew, Peterson and Cacia were the other league All-Stars.
“All the individuals who ran at the league meet either put up personal bests or were pretty close,” Usseglio said. “They all progressed well during the indoor season.”
The Watertown High boys team received four Middlesex League All-Stars on Tuesday with Mange Camara selected as the MVP for running events.
Camara was an All-Star in the 300, Ben Landry made the cut in the shot put, as did the 4x200 relay team of Nick Cordeiro, Nathan Follett, Landry and Camara.
Scott Souza can be reached at email@example.com.