All-State Track: Northampton takes home state title in boys 4x400 relay

By MIKE MORAN

@mikemoranDHG

Published: 06-04-2017 9:32 PM

The Northampton boys 4x400-meter relay team did what it set out to do Saturday — win a state championship.

Nik Smith, Patrick Quinlan, Ethan Cooper and Cole Lavalle held off Mansfield to win the closing event at the All-State Track & Field Championships, Saturday at Bridgewater State.

“They’re always pretty aware of their potential as a group,” Northampton coach Brandon Palmer said. “We were joking we could accidentally set a meet record and win a state championship. They just pieced it together.”

The Blue Devils didn’t set the meet record, but they did break their own.

Northampton finished in a school-record time of 3 minutes, 19.58 seconds. The group qualified for the championship field at New Balance Nationals, June 16.

Smith sprinted across the finish line and jumped into Palmer’s arms in celebration.

“I don’t know what happened,” Palmer said. “I braced myself because I thought he was going to hug me then he jumped. I ended up picking up all four of the relay members in one hug.”

Mansfield finished second in 3:20.22.

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Northampton was 1.07 shy of matching the meet record set by Natick last year.

“Going into the 4x4 it was going to take the kids everything they had,” Palmer said. “The guys were a little bit nervous, but overall confident. The guys know if they gave it everything they had they’d pull down a state championship.”

It was the only state title Northampton brought home.

Smith fell short in the 100 and 200 dashes.

The senior was the second seed in the 100, but finished fifth in 11.05 seconds. Davonte Burnett of Needham won in 10.63.

Smith was the defending champ and top seed in the 200, but he crossed in third in 21.86. Burnett doubled up with a win in 21.36.

Ben Gordon-Sniffen moved up two spots from his seed in the 800, but fell one short of the podium with a ninth-place finish in 1:56.41.

Lavalle was two seconds slower than his seed time and placed 17th in 58.77 in the 400 hurdles.

“I take ownership for how they raced,” said Palmer, who held a joint workout with Holyoke on Tuesday. “It might have taxed them a little too much.”

Behind Smith’s sprint finishes and the relay’s win, Northampton placed sixth with 20 points. Newton North won with 41.

Amherst Regional was led by Meikkel Murray and his fourth-place showing in the triple jump.

Murray was about a foot short of his seed mark with a leap of 44 feet, 4½ inches. Michael Pichay of Boston College High won in 45-1.

Jack Yanko was 10th in the mile (4:23.84) for Amherst, while the 4x800 relay was ninth in 8:02.17.

Girls championship

The 2-mile was a battle of youth as sophomores took the top two positions, three of four and four of six.

Amherst’s Sophia Jacobs-Townsley was second in 10:56.55.

Grace Connolly of Natick won in 10:43.61.

Jacobs-Townsley was also 10th in the mile in 5:09.59.

South Hadley senior Sophie Gatzounas was fifth in the javelin with a toss of 120-3. Shira Stoller of Sharon won at 145-9.

Northampton’s 4x800 relay was one spot shy of placing, finishing ninth in 9:44.63.

The New England championships are Saturday at Norwell High School.

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