Stuart Track Cruises to Prep B Three-Peat As Senior Stars End Careers on High Note
By Bill Alden
Tom Harrington had confidence that his Stuart Day School track team could win its third straight Prep B state title.
But even the upbeat head coach was surprised by the dominance his athletes showed last week as they cruised to their three-peat.
The Tartans piled up 144 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Gill St. Bernards, who scored 66 points.
"I had a feeling that we would win but I didn't think it would be by that great an amount," said Harrington, who believes that his team's margin of victory was the largest in the history of the Prep B meet.
"We wanted to get the whole team to come together at the right time. We were prepared, we made adjustments because we knew other teams were going to take points away from us. We scored in every event except the 200. We had double figures in a lot of events."
Fittingly, it was Stuart's quintet of seniors, Brittany Jones, Maya Thompson, Megan Keese, Sophie Medina, and the coach's daughter, Angela Harrington, who carried the bulk of the load for the Tartans.
The seniors accounted for 72 of the team's 144 points, with the trio of Jones, Thompson, and Harrington scoring 70.
Jones won the 100 hurdles in 18.9 and the 400 hurdles (1:17.6) while Thompson won the javelin with a heave of 76'4, took second in the shot put (30'10), and third in the discus (881).
Harrington, for her part, won the long jump with a leap of 14'8.5, ran on the first place 4x400 relay 4:33.2, placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (19.3), and took fifth in the 100 (13.7).
The quintet was not about to be denied in their quest for the state title three-peat, the first in school history.
"The seniors spoke to their teammates before the meet," recalled Harrington, noting that the five classmates have been competing together for Stuart since junior school. "They said this is it. There will be a lot of craziness and you have to be focused."
Their younger teammates obviously got the message as several turned in outstanding performances. Junior Emily Driscoll broke the school record in the 3200 for the second time in the last two weeks as she clocked a 12:22.0 to take the Prep B crown in the event.
Driscoll also placed second in the 1,600, finishing ahead of teammates Laura Brienza, who was third, and Catherine Currie, the fifth place finisher. Another key performer for Stuart was Hannah Wilson, who took second in the 400 hurdles and then tied teammate Brittany Kidd for second in the high jump.
Harrington acknowledged that this year's title will hold a special place in his heart since it marks the final chapter for his sterling group of seniors.
"Each year has been different but this year has special meaning," maintained Harrington, who credited assistant coach Robert Abdullah for having a mjaor impact on the team's jumpers and sprinters.
"I try not to cross the father/daughter line but this was my last year coaching Angela and I wanted her to win a state title. I feel like I've been a surrogate father to the seniors. I couldn't have asked for more from them. They are good athletes, good kids, and good students. I'm proud of their commitment to the program."
The seniors are leaving quite a legacy for their younger teammates. "Next year's team has a tough act to follow," said Harrington. "We're losing a lot of points. No girls' track team has won four Prep B titles in a row. The returners know the challenge."
If the returnees can emulate the character and commitment shown by Stuart's seniors, they have a good shot at meeting that challenge.