Amherst’s Catie Spence sets new Williston Northampton school record in 800 meters 

By HANNAH BEVIS 

Staff Writer 

Published: 05-26-2023 8:26 PM

Before this track season, Williston Northampton School’s Catie Spence had never competed in the 800 meter run before. 

By the end of the year, she held the school record in the event. 

The Amherst native set the school record during the Division II New England Preparatory School Track Association championship meet, which was hosted at Williston’s Galbraith Field last weekend. Despite the rain showers that drenched the athletes all day, Spence turned on the jets during her event, crossing the finish line in 2 minutes, 20.17 seconds to earn the title and the school mark. 

“It was a pretty surreal experience. It was pouring rain that day, crazy weather. But I got a lot of support and love. I had a lot of people cheering me on, my family was there and my friends met me at the finish line,” Spence said. “I pretty much collapsed at the end — I was exhausted.”

Spence went out hard early in an effort to build up a lead, almost daring the other athletes to keep up with her. Nobody could, and she held on late in the race to fend off any late comeback attempts and cross the finish line first.

Though she was new to the 800 event this season, Spence has spent most of her life running some way or another – she’s played soccer since she was five, and has been running the 300-meter hurdles the last two years at Williston, another tough endurance event that helped prepare her for her 800 success.

“I was scared because [she] went out so fast. It was really awesome to see [her] hold that lead,” Williston track head coach Chris Pelliccia said. “And [she] had the fitness to hold it… and I could see that last 100 hurt… and we hosted this year, so it was cool to have so many Williston people yelling so loud on the homestretch cheering her home.” 

A bevy of friends and family members, including her two brothers and father, were at the finish line to greet her after the win. Not present physically but on Spence’s mind during the race was her mom, who passed recently but had always been one of her daughter’s biggest fans.

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“She had always been my biggest supporter, of my track career and just everything in my life and I definitely wouldn't be where I am without her. So she was definitely on my mind going into the race,” Spence said. “That might have been part of what helped me stay strong, thinking I'm gonna run this race for her and I'm gonna make her proud. I think she was definitely with me during that race.”

Also there to cheer Spence on was the previous record holder, Abigail Touhey, who had graduated the previous season after setting the record with a 2:21.08. 

“[Touhey] was back at NEPSACs, and I think very happy that someone could could surpass what she was able to do,” Pelliccia said. “Abigail was a NEPSAC champion last year, and Catie was champion this year. So we've got really good Williston pedigree there now. It's exciting.” 

Spence is hoping to break her record again next season. She has one more year left at Williston to etch her name in the history books again, eying a sub-2:20 time as her next goal. 

Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@gazettenet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1]]>