The Watertown High boys track team came within just one point of the ultimate goal at the Division 4 State meet held in Weston. The Raiders finished second overall with 41 points, with Hamilton-Wenham winning with an overall point total of 42 points in the May 26 meet.

Boys Track

The Watertown High boys track team came within just one point of the ultimate goal at the Division 4 State meet held in Weston. The Raiders finished second overall with 41 points, with Hamilton-Wenham winning with an overall point total of 42 points in the May 26 meet.

“When you come so close to winning a state meet, you look back at all the little things that could of gone our way that would have resulted in us winning this thing,” Watertown coach Tom Wittenhagen said. “You drive yourself crazy when you notice you missed out on winning because of a 1/2 inch there or a tenth of a second there, or if an injury didn’t happen there. But at the same time, we did get some points from guys that were completely unexpected.”

Hamilton Wenham won the state meet because of the pole vault event. Out of the 41 teams who participated in the Division 4 state meet, only six schools qualified for the event because of the potential danger of an inexperienced squad. Hamilton-Wenham earned 16 points in the pole vault, a tally that allowed them to eke by the Raiders.

“They would have finished 12th overall if it wasn’t for that event,” Wittenhagen said. “But we knew coming in that we had to overcome that if we had a chance of winning this thing.”

Despite the disappointment of finishing second, there was also a lot of joy finishing second. The Raiders were on the bus thinking that they finished fourth overall, but an adding error was discovered while the boys boarded the bus, and they realized they had to come back and get the second-place trophy.

Among the things that would have given the Raiders their first-ever Division 4 state title had they not occurred was the injury to junior Karnell Shanklin in the 100-meter dash. Shanklin came in the favorite to win this event, but he pulled a hamstring during the race and had to bow out.

“This is the third time in the last five years we have had the number-one seed in the dash and come away with no points,” Wittenhagen said. “We have some bad luck in the dash, but Karnell is a great kid and did all he could. I know it was very disappointing for him.”

Not only did the injury likely cost the Raiders points in the dash, but it also left them without an anchor in the 4x100 relay. At the last possible moment, Wittenhagen had to search for an anchor and chose senior Will Leahy, who is very inexperienced in running a relay race. However, Leahy did a more than amazing job passing the baton and running to the best of his ability as the Raiders won the event in a time of 44.93 seconds. Watertown also missed the school record in that event by a tenth of a second.

“Will was just incredible for us,” Wittenhagen said. “He literally had 10 minutes notice. It was just a fantastic moment for him, and I was very happy for him.”

That would be the only first-place finish on the day for Watertown, but they had several quality individual events, including Ryan Quinn in both the long jump (third place with a 20-foot 4-inch leap) and the 200 (third with a time of 23:05).

“Ryan came in seeded fourth in both of those events, so he got us more points than expected,” Wittenhagen said.

Willie Barnes also had a great day, placing twice by getting a fifth-place finish in the shot put with a toss of 48-1 1/4 (a half-inch more would have put him in fourth and given Watertown a first-place overall finish) and a third-place finish in the discus with a toss of 144-2.

Others who pointed were Philip Sesay in the 800 (second place, 51.34), Tom Huff in the discus (fifth, 128-11) and Danny Holland in the 300-meter hurdles (sixth, 41).

“Overall this was a very good day for us,” Wittenhagen said. “It is the highest we finished in an outdoor meet in at least 25 years.”

Next up are the Saturday, June 2, All-States in Holyoke. The qualifiers include the 4x4 team of Quinn, Sesay, Andrew Mazzeo and Leahy, Quinn in the long jump and 200, Barnes in the discus and Sesay in the 800.

Boys Division 4 State Meet
Hamilton-Wenham 42 points
Watertown 41
Dedham 40
Weston 38
Newburyport 37
Girls Track

The Watertown High girls outdoor track team came up with a more-than-respectable 15th-place finish at the Division 4 State meet held in Weston on May 26. The Lady Raiders outpointed more than 20 schools as they totaled 16 points, which was also a nice improvement over last season. 

“I am really proud of the girls,” Watertown head coach Dave Mastro said. “And not just the ones that scored points. All the girls that came did a nice job.”

Sophomore Allison Holland placed in two events. One was in the hurdles, when she finished fourth overall with a time of 16:28 seconds. Despite getting off to a bit of a slow start in that event, she ended up with a season-best performance. She ended up only 2/10 of a second off third place in a race where the top four weren’t that far apart.

“She was right with the best hurdlers in the state,” Mastro said. “She proved she belongs there.”

Holland also did an outstanding job in the triple jump, finishing fourth overall with a 34-8 1/4 leap.

Junior Emilie DeBaie also placed for Watertown in the mile with a fourth-place time of 5:33. It was the first time the talented runner was able to come away with points at the state meet.

“I was glad to see her do so well,” Mastro said of DeBaie. “She had some difficulty at the state meet in her last two trips there, but this time she did a great job.”

Senior Laura Orloff finished off the scoring for the Lady Raiders at the state meet with another fourth-place finish in the shot put with a toss of 33-3. Orloff also participated in the discus and while she didn’t place, had a quality toss of 94 feet.

“Considering she came back from [shoulder] surgery, she also did a very nice job out there,” Mastro said of Orloff.

Others who didn’t point but put in quality showings included Elisabeth Phillips Jones in the mile (5:51), Leah Kass in the 300 hurdles (ninth place, 51.1), Amy Salese in both her heat of the 800 (12th, 2:29) and the triple jump (23-8), Taylor Conners in the javelin, Brittany Obi-Tabot in the discus, and the 4x4 relay team of Holland, DeBaie, Salese and Kass, which finished 12th overall with a time of 4:28.09.

Next up for some of the girls is the Saturday, June 2, All-State meet in Holyoke. Holland, in two events, will join DeBaie and Orloff in making the trip to the western part of the state.

“Our goal is not to worry about how high we finish as a group,” Mastro said. “The girls just have to focus on trying to improve on their best times and distances.”