Wesley Korir is used to moving at a fast pace, whether it was when he won his first marathon in Chicago or when he won the Boston Marathon in 2012.
On Wednesday afternoon, he was forced to move at a fast pace again -- but not because he was in the middle of a race. He was racing the clock to make sure he was on time to the John Hancock Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.
Korir was the main speaker for the 400 Boston public school track athletes at the event, but was in jeopardy of being absent as a result of a delayed flight (it was a day and a half late). His plane landed around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, allowing for him to impart some running wisdom on the student-athletes.
“I’ve never seen somebody run looking backwards. If you [see] somebody run looking backwards, he’s not a good runner,” Korir said. “As a runner, I’ve never seen somebody run looking down. If you [see] somebody running while looking down, he’s not a good runner. For you to become a good runner, you need to focus and run for the prize ahead of you.”
The attentive students listened on as Korir told his story of how he went from a child running five miles barefoot to class in Kenya, to a senator in the same country and a marathon champion.
“Him just coming here and then trying to make it on time just to see us, that’s a really great gift from him,” said O’Bryant senior Patrick Powell, who was a member of O’Bryant’s 1600-meter sprint medley team that won first place in the event’s first ever "Friendship Sprint" medley relay.
Winning in front of the elite athletes made the entire experience worthwhile for Powell.
Korir was joined by other marathon greats Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and Greg Meyer, the last American to win the Boston Marathon.
“To link with Scholars and Stars, I love this idea,” Rodgers said. “It’s kind of like what running is permanently all about. It’s really about friendship and the friends you make in school and in sports.”
Meyer, who often volunteers as a high school track coach in his offseason, also took the duties of leading a stretching and core strengthening workout for all of the students at the event.
“There’s a lot of talent in these kids, not just in running but in life,” Meyer said. “You never know when something’s going to click with a kid and they’re good kids, they’re fun.”
Meyer was joined in leading the stretches with another member of the O’Bryant relay team, sophomore Brian Donna who hopes to run in the Olympics some day.
“You’re learning from the masters, they’ve been through everything you’ve been through,” Donna said. “You got to lead by example, there’s leaders and followers.”
By that mentality, the student’s couldn’t have had better athletes to listen to.
“You have the opportunity to change this country the way you want,” Korir said. “So take the opportunity, keep it in your hand and run with it and become who you want to become.”
Shortly before defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya took the lectern at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center on Wednesday afternoon, the O’Bryant boys and the Latin Academy girls won the first ever “Friendship Sprint” medley relay race in the third-annual Scholars & Stars Boston Marathon event.
The races also came after the last American men’s winner at Boston, Greg Meyer, and four-time Boston champ, Bill Rodgers, led the 12 Boston public school track teams through drills.
Fernando Cabada, who finished seventh at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, also attended the event, which was sponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes program.
“It’s really great to be around people who have achieved the success that I hope to achieve when I get older, just as I continue doing the sport,” Latin Academy freshman Ashley Lewis said after helping the Dragons win the girls’ race with a time of 4 minutes 35.8 seconds.
“It’s just an honor to be here today.”
Three other freshman (Imani Pressley, Britney Firmin and Leigha Mills) also ran for Latin Academy’s winning relay on Wednesday.
“The sprint medley was really fun,” Presley said. “It was like an adrenalin rush; I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast.”
Latin Academy coach Brian Leussler said Firmin gave them an edge in the race.
“I thought the team with the strongest 800 meters was going to win this race because they have half the race, and I knew Britney, our lead leg who did the 800, was super strong at the 600 and 1000 indoor and she’s really good at the 400 and 800 outdoor,” he said. “The combination of them is just fantastic. All of them have gone to the state meet before … and they are all in ninth grade, which is amazing.
“I’m lucky to have them.”
O’Bryant (Patrick Powell, Mehki Williams, Brian Donna and Duncan Malone) won the boys’ race in 3:57.1.
“Hopefully this will be the relay for the state relays that’s coming up soon and I just wanted to see how well they run and what we need to do to polish it off,” O’Bryant coach Jose Ortega said. “Hopefully this will be a competitive team.
“I know they can run, it’s just a matter of where we need to be. We have to tweak a little, especially that 200 exchange. That’s going to happen at the state level and if we’re not ahead or separated from the rest of the pack that is where we will get in trouble.”
Powell, who ran the first leg of the relay on Wednesday, also said he was honored to be in the presence of such great marathoners.
“It means a lot because all of these people have done great in track and field and I’ve always looked up to them for all the work and perseverance they’ve done to get to that height,” he said, “and I want to get to that same height too.”
Globe Correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed to this report.
Defending Boston Marathon champion Wesley Korir of Kenya will headline a track clinic for Boston public high school track teams on Wednesday afternoon at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Roxbury.
Sponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes program, the third annual Scholars and Stars event will start at 2:30 p.m. and include a series of stretching and technical drills for the students who represent 14 Boston public schools.
This year's event will also include a "Friendship Sprint" relay race with both male and female heats.
Korir, who also won the Los Angeles marathon in 2009, won the Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours 12 minutes 40 seconds last year.
Greg Meyer, the last American men’s winner at Boston, will also be on hand once again to work with the students.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Suffolk Construction CEO and Chairman John Fish, who co-founded the Boston Scholar Athlete Program, are slated to speak along with John Hancock Financial Executive Vice President Jim Gallagher.
Liz Byron, a special education teacher at the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston,
arrived in Morocco this week for the Marathon de Sables, otherwise known as "the toughest footrace on the planet."
The sixth-grade teacher is running the six-day, 155-mile self-supporting ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert to raise $50,000 for classroom laptops for her school.
Check out a blog post about Byron on Boston.com's The Buzz blog by clicking here.
Now that the dust has cleared from a weekend of state track indoor meets, several athletes from Boston schools’ qualified for Saturday’s All-State indoor track meet at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Latin Academy freshman Ashley Lewis qualified for the 300-meter dash after finishing sixth in the Division 2 meet with a time of 42.52. She will be the No. 21-seed at All-States.
In the boys’ 55-meter dash Burke senior Kevin Facey is seeded 13th with a time of 6.73. After winning the preliminaries in the Division 4 meet with a time of 6.65, he finished second in the finals with his seed time for All-States.
In the boys’ 1,000-meter run, Boston Latin senior Mike Ward is the No. 14 seed with a seed time of 2:35.47. He finished ninth in the Division 1 meet.
After finishing fourth in the long jump with a leap of 17-feet and seventh in the 55-meter dash with a time of 7.56 seconds, O’Bryant freshman Juleen Lewis earned the No. 10-seed in the long jump at All-States and the No. 21-seed in the 55-meter dash.
She can't compete, however, for religious reasons. She is a Seventh-day Adventist and therefore recognizes the Sabbath on Saturdays.
Her sister, Elizabeth Lewis, is a member of West Roxbury’s 4x200-meter relay team that finished fourth in the Division 4 meet and will be the No. 21 seed at Saturday's All-State meet with a seed time of 1:50.89.
Because the elder Lewis is 18-years-old, she was free to decide to compete on her own.
West Roxbury's 4x200-meter relay team also includes Monique, Michelle and Mackala McPherson.
For the second straight year, a contingent representing the Boston Scholar Athletes program will run the Boston Marathon to raise money for the program that supports Boston public school athletics.
Here's a story about last year's BSA team that ran the marathon.
Boston residents, Elizabeth Collins and Joseph Cappellano are running the marathon for the BSA for the second straight year on April 15 while Kimberly Norris and Shanell Mosley will be running for the BSA through an entry provided by John Hancock for the first time this year.
The runners were chosen by the BSA Boston Marathon Selection Committee.
Collins and Norris both work for Suffolk Construction, whose CEO, John Fish, founded the BSA.
Mosley is a BSA Zone facilitator at Dorchester Academy while Cappellano is a BSA senior Zone facilitator who works out of the O'Bryant school.
Qualifying for the All-States meet during the indoor track season was a natural progression for Luis Nunez considering he practiced high jump at the Reggie Lewis Center three days a week. Qualifying for Monday’s outdoor All-States meet in high jump, however, was a much bigger feat for the Brighton senior considering he hardly ever practices high jump during the outdoor season.
“He really only gets to practice during meets at White Stadium,” said Brighton track coach Sara Voss Geiman, noting that during the outdoor season they usually practice at their school or at Madison Park’s track, which doesn’t have the high jump set up. “To get to [White Stadium] from Brighton is a trek. The fact that he does what he does with virtually no practice is a testament to what an amazing athlete he is.”
After finishing tied for third at the Eastern Mass Division 1 track meet at Durfee High School last weekend with a leap of 6-feet-2-inches, Nunez will be the No. 15 seed at the All-State meet on Saturday at Fitchburg State University.
“I’m really excited about it, I can’t wait for it to come,” Nunez said. “I really want to improve myself at get into the Top 5.”
Nunez has jumped as high as 6-4 during the indoor season and he said he probably would have a better shot at his goal of qualifying for the outdoor New England meet this weekend if he could practice more. But he also said that he doesn’t mind not being able to practice high jump in the spring because he doesn’t have to worry about over-thinking his jumps.
“For me I have the muscle memory and things like that so it comes naturally,” he said. “That’s kind of one of the things, when I think about it I kind of get nervous, I try to do all types of stuff. When I’m not really thinking about it I jump and do better than when I actually think about it.
“[But] training and everything, I would definitely be better, there’s no doubt about it.”
Nunez has a 4.1 GPA and said he wants to try to walk on to the track team at UMass Amherst in the fall. He said it's not frustrating that he can’t practice high jump in the spring because it allows him to focus on his other events, including the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the long jump and the 4x100-meter relay.
“I want to be able to do different events,” he said.
Nunez’s teammate, senior Laquasia Anderson, will also run at the All-State meet as the No. 11 seed in the 200-meter dash. Anderson was seeded No. 1 in the 200-meter in the Division 1 meet last weekend before finishing second with a time of 26.13 seconds. She also helped Brighton’s 4x100-meter relay team finish 12th with a time of 52.18 seconds.
“There is a part of me that knows she competed well but saved a little bit of herself for the 4x100 so I’m excited to see what she can do with only one race to focus on,” Voss Geiman said.
Anderson had ankle surgery last year after seriously injuring herself during a basketball game.
“I was surprised myself,” she said of how fast she recovered from surgery. “But over the summer last year I played basketball and ran a lot on the weekend and my basketball coach had me running a lot. I just kept running, pushing myself and when I came to track I pushed myself even harder and that was the outcome.”
Anderson, who will try to walk on to the track team at UMass Dartmouth in the fall, will be making her first All-States appearance this weekend.
“I just want to push myself, I’m not worried about being No. 1 and winning, I just want to push myself so I finish,” she said. “One of the things I’m going to take away from track is [my coach] helped me believe in myself because at one point I didn’t and that’s something I’m going to take with me to college and after that.”
The only other athlete from a Boston public school that will be competing in this year’s All-State meet is O’Bryant’s state champion hurler, senior Adrienne Thornton, who won the discus at the Eastern Mass Division 3 meet with a toss of 132-09. She finished third in the shot put with a toss of 38-08.5.
At All-States, Thornton will be seeded No. 1 in discus and No. 3 in shot put behind Mahar Regional’s Sabrina Silva and Wakefield’s Elizabeth Bray.
Thornton’s coach Jose Ortega said their goal is to win both.
“It’s not going to be easy but hopefully she can pull it off,” he said. “She just has to relax and allow her talent and technique to take over. She has it in her to perform well she just has to relax and let it flow and go.”
Ortega, who has won 18 outdoor city championships and 16 indoor city championships at O’Bryant, said that only sending three athletes from Boston public schools to All-States is a “typical” year. Ortega said more city athletes could qualify if more city schools were in lower divisions, where the qualifying standards for the division meets are lower as well.
“That would give us more athletes to qualify for states and a chance to move on to All-States rather than be in their respective divisions and work twice as hard to get to All-States,” he said. “If you want the programs to be more successful you should look into all the teams in Boston being put in one division and more kids would qualify and advance to All-States.”
Ortega lobbied Boston Schools’ Athletic Director Ken Still a few years ago to petition the MIAA with proposal to move the city track teams into Division 4.
“He said present your proposal and to give him data, that’s the hard part is going through and finding all the data to prove our point,” Ortega said. “Without data he cannot present it to the MIAA, which is a legitimate reason.”
Schools are put into division by the size of their student body.
“That’s the problem, our school may be a bit big, but if you look at all the kids coming out for track and field it doesn’t make sense,” Ortega said. “So what if we have 2,200 students, you only get 10 of those 2,200 who come out for track.”
Voss Geiman said she was bummed more athletes from Boston schools didn’t qualify for All-States.
“I was kind of sad because there is such a great camaraderie between the coaches in track and field and actually once we get done with the city meet all the BPS kids feel like we are on the same team,” she said. “It’s too bad there weren’t more people that could go and represent Boston.”
Barry Chin / Globe Staff
Shortly after moving to Dorchester from Haiti in 2009, Andy Pierre was summoned by an administrator at his new high school, the Community Academy of Science and Health. Pierre didn’t realize that the administrator, Joel Connor, was also the track and field coach at the Dorchester school known as CASH.
“I didn’t even know track when I was in Haiti,” Pierre recalled, “the first time [Connor] called me he was like ‘Andy I need you after school.’ I was like ‘Why, did I do something?’”
Connor thought the 6-foot-2-inch, 150-pounder had potential on the track, even though his only athletic experience was in soccer.
“He looked like a marathon runner," Connor said. "He had the body of a marathon runner; quite frankly he could run for days.”
The 18-year-old — who is listed as a junior but will likely graduate this spring — will compete in the Division 4 Outdoor Track & Field Championship for the first time on Saturday at North Reading High. Pierre finished fourth in the 600 meters in the Division 4 indoor meet this winter before finishing 13th at All-States.
He will be the No. 9 seed in the 400-meter run Saturday with a qualifying time of 52.40 seconds.
“I’m so excited, I can’t wait,” Pierre recalled after winning the 400-meter run in the Boston City Track & Field Championships on May 15 with a time of 52.70. He also won the city title in high jump with a leap of 5 feet 8 inches.
“The first time I went to states I was so scared.”
Pierre’s transition to the track was nothing compared to his transition to the United States.
When Pierre was 6, his mother, Herodia Auguste, moved from Haiti to Boston in search of work. Eight-years later, she finally earned enough money at her job in the food services department at Boston College to send for her 10 children to join her in the states.
“That was a dream,” Pierre said of being reunited with his mother. “I didn’t even recognize her when I got here. We started again; lots of things changed about her.
“She always put in my head that everything is going to be OK.”
Their reunion was five months before a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010.
Pierre said he lost several family members and friends.
“I was lucky,” he said. “I could be one of them. I always thank God for that.”
Adding to his distress was the fact that Pierre and his older brother, Clifford, spoke little to no English when they first enrolled in school at CASH in September 2009. Clifford also ran indoor track for Connor that first winter and served as his brother’s security blanket during the 2-mile and mile races.
“They didn’t speak a lot of English, so they would run with each other,” Connor said. “His brother wasn’t that good but [Pierre] would always run in races with his brother. I tried to convince him ‘Leave your brother,’ but they would come across the finish line together. I would have to tell him ‘Leave him, you’re better.’”
One day Clifford couldn’t attend a meet because he had a job interview at Boston College.
“So Andy had to run by himself,” Connor said. “He basically took two to three minutes off his time. I told him ‘See how fast you’re running, see what your potential is.’ That was the turning point of his getting it into his head that he could be better.”
Pierre’s progression skyrocketed quickly, but he always played second fiddle in the distance races to Latin Academy’s Robert “Sonny” Finch, who has won the mile at the city championships three straight years.
Impressed by Pierre’s split times of 49 and 50 seconds during his mile runs, Connor decided to switch Pierre to middle distance races before this indoor season.
“Sonny was in his head that he couldn’t beat him,” Connor said. “I said ‘Let me switch him, I knew he’s been working on speed. Sonny won. It was, let him have [the mile], let’s try something new.”
Pierre didn’t protest.
“We felt like I can run faster in shorter races,” Pierre said. “I was like 'All right, whatever you see.' I was willing to do it so I think he was right to say that. … I felt comfortable the first time. I feel comfortable with it.”
And Finch, who had befriended Pierre, didn’t mind that Pierre wouldn’t be around to push him in the mile anymore.
“He was always chasing me, then one day he came to me and said I can’t beat you, he always beat me in the 800 though,” Finch said. “I’m sure he likes being in first a little bit better. Plus we’re buddies. We always congratulate each other. … It was kind of comical to see us in the same race. It was a race of opposites. We run the same speed but look completely different. He’s tall and got that Mohawk and I’m so much shorter than him.”
Considering everything Pierre’s been through, Connor said he’s most proud of how Pierre has handled himself in school. In fact, Connor said that Pierre, who is almost 19, will graduate this year even though it’s his third year of high school at CASH.
Connor said like many Haitian immigrants, Pierre didn’t have paperwork when he arrived at the school so they placed him in freshman classes. Once they received paperwork that proved he completed his freshman year in Haiti, Pierre was put on a track to graduate this year, Connor said.
Pierre was able to catch up on credits through CASH’s dual-enrollment program with Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology as well as the district’s credit recovery program. Connor said Pierre will graduate this spring if he passes the US history and English courses he’s taking through the credit recovery program.
Connor also said the likes of Connecticut College and Roxbury Community College are interested in having Pierre run for them. Connor said the problem is that those schools think he's a junior, so they are working on finding a college where he could walk on to the track team in the fall.
"Maybe not a scholarship but [ a school that would allow him to] walk on saying 'this kid has potential,'" Connor said. “His potential really hasn’t been tapped at all. We practice in the school. We don’t have time to go to White Stadium or the Reggie Lewis Center in the winter so all his practices are in the hallways and he doesn’t have competition to run against.
Track also played a huge role in Pierre’s assimilation to the school and this country, Connor said.
“He’s like a superstar in school and everyone here knows who he is,” Connor said. “That forced him to acclimate to the culture.”
Pierre said he feels fully assimilated and doesn’t miss Haiti at all.
“I feel comfortable here,” he said. “I have things I didn’t have there. Track is one thing I didn’t have when I was in Haiti.”
Brighton sprinter Anderson headlines a slew of Boston schools' track stars set to tackle state meets
When the MIAA seeds for the divisional track meets were released this morning, Brighton High track coach Sara Voss Geiman was surprised to see senior Laquasia Anderson seeded No. 1 in the girls’ 200-meter dash at this weekend's Eastern Mass Division 1 track meet at Durfee High School in Fall River.
“I was hoping she would be in the top three or five at least,” Voss Geiman said during a telephone interview on Wednesday afternoon. “Her being the top seed, I didn’t know it would happen. It was really exciting.”
The feat was all the more remarkable considering Anderson had ankle surgery last year after seriously injuring herself during a basketball game.
“It was a huge change from her junior year now that she’s completely healed and healthy,” Voss Geiman said.
Anderson, who has a qualifying time of 26.4 seconds in the 200, will also run on Brighton’s 24th-seeded 4x100-meter relay team along with senior Tanasha Ward, junior Albertine Samson and junior Esther Nkwah. Samson is also the No. 32-seed in the 100-meter dash with a qualifying time of 13.54 seconds.
Samson and Nkwah attend Boston Community Leadership Academy, which is moving from Brighton to the old Hyde Park High complex next year.
“This is also an exciting year because it’s the last year I’ll be with Albertine and Esther,” Voss Geiman said.
Voss Geiman also said this is the biggest team she’s ever brought to the state meet since she started coaching at Brighton three years ago.
Brighton’s boys’ 4x100-meter relay team [junior Christopher Desanero, senior Luis Nunez, senior Michael Moore, junior Seth Philistin] is seeded 24th with a time of 45.84. Nunez is also seeded 30th in the high jump with qualifying leap of 6-feet.
Voss Geiman also noted that Anderson was pushed all season long in the 200-meter dash by South Boston's Daitannah Smith, who is seeded No. 8 in 200-meter dash in the Division 2 meet at Whitman Hanson Regional High. Smith beat Anderson in the city championships with a time of 26.20 seconds.
Also at the Division 2 meet, Latin Academy eighth grader Ashley Lewis is the No. 20 seed in the 400-meter run. Latin Academy senior Barbara Okafor is the No. 23 in the 100-meter dash.
On the boys' side of the Division 2 meet, Latin Academy sophomore Malik Anderson will be the No. 18 seed in the 100-meter dash and his teammate, Sekou Stuppard, will be seeded No. 24 in the 400-meter run. South Boston senior William Arrington is No. 23 in the 200-meter dash.
Jumping to the Eastern Mass Division 3 meet at Pembroke High, it’s no surprise that O’Bryant’s state champion hurler, Adrienne Thornton, is seeded No. 1 in the discus with a qualifying toss of 120 feet and 9 inches. She is the No. 2 seed in the shot put (34-07) behind senior Elizabeth Bray of Wakefield (42-02).
Thornton’s teammate, Kiana Daley, is seeded No. 3 in the discus with a toss of 112-01 while O’Bryant junior Duncan Malone will be the No. 27 seed in the discus on the boys’ side of the Division 3 meet.
Jamila Jones, who edged out Thornton by half an inch to take the city championship shot put title this year, will be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Mass Division 4 meet at North Reading High. North Reading sophomore, Emily Murray, is the No. 1 seed in the shot put with a qualifying toss of 36-09.
New Mission senior Akkiea Dickerson is seeded sixth in the 200-meter dash at the Division 4 meet with a qualifying time of 26.6. She is No. 23 in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.3.
In the Boys’ Division 4 meet, CASH junior Andy Pierre is the No. 9 seed in the 400-meter run with a qualifying time of 52.40.
Boston Latin School has a slew of athletes in the Division 1 meet as well, including senior Wilhelmina Moen, the No. 8 seed in the 200-meter dash with a qualifying time of 26.74. Her teammate, freshman Kenedy Barnwell, is seeded No. 17 with a time of 27.06. Barnwell is also No. 19 in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.34 while Denise Yoon is No. 34 with a time of 13.54.
In the 800-meter run senior Ava Violich is seeded No. 29 with a time of 2:28.09 and in the 2-mile run seventh grader Sarah Kiame is No. 26 with a time of 12:07.89 while freshman Alannah O’Brien is No. 28 with a time of 12:08.87.
Boston Latin’s No. 9-seeded 4x100-meter relay team (Moen, Barnwell, senior Maggie Hughes, eight grader Andrea Hatzis and Yoon) has a seed time of 51.53.
In the triple jump, junior Fenintola Abioye is the No. 21 seed with a leap of 33-08.
On the boys’ side, Boston Latin junior Mike Ward is the No. 21-seed in the mile run with a seed time of 4:33.05. He is also the No. 26 seed in the 800-meters with a time of 2:01.54.
When O’Bryant track & field coach Jose Ortega first asked Emily Prado to run the 2-mile three years ago, the long-distance assignment brought her to tears.
“When he told me to run the 2-mile I cried,” the junior recalled during the first day of the Boston City League Track & Field Championships on Monday at White Stadium. “I went into the bathroom, I didn’t tell my teammates, I didn’t tell my coaches, and I started to cry.
“But when I did it, I thought this is something I’m finally good at. I told myself, ‘stick with it, something good might happen.’ I never pictured myself running it for three years.”
Prado not only stuck with it, she has won the event at both the outdoor and indoor city championships for three straight years.
On Monday she did so by setting her personal record, 14 minutes 10.50 seconds — about 40 seconds faster than her previous PR.
O’Bryant, which is going for its 19th straight city title in outdoor girls’ track, was also in first place in the team standings (76 points) after Monday's opening day events. Adrienne Thornton won the girls’ discus for O’Bryant with a toss of 120 feet, 9 inches while her teammate, Kiana Daley, finished second after recording a personal record (112-01).
Thornton, a state champion thrower finished, second in the shot put (33-00.50) behind New Mission/Boston English’s Jamila Jones (33-01). Thornton also finished second behind Latin Academy’s Monique Cox (1:13) in the 400-meter hurdles by .60 seconds.
Her throwing coach, Ted Loska, said she threw well considering she hurt her ankle on a hurdle and the throwing circle was soaked by rain in the middle of the meet.
Latin Academy was second in the girls’ team standings (58.50 points) after Imani Pressley won the 100-meter dash (13.10) and Roxlind James won the high jump (4-06).
The remainder of the running events are slated for Tuesday at 3 p.m.
“It’s slipping away from us,” Ortega said of winning his 20th straight girls’ city championship. “It’s not looking good … This is just the field events. The running events is a whole different system. It’s not going to hold up. The meet is not over. It’s not even half over.”
But while Ortega wasn’t so confident about Tuesday’s running events, he said he’s never seen anyone dominate the girls’ 2-mile in the city like Prado has the last three years.
“I don’t think anyone has won it consistently, back-to-back-to-back,” Ortega said. “That’s an unusual event. No one wants to run it. That’s a long race. It takes someone who is mentally fit to run that race.”
Ortega said it’s one of the hardest events to consistently win.
“You just don’t know,” he said. “Anyone can win it.”
That was evident on Monday when Boston Latin Academy seventh-grader Catherine Van Even finished second in only her third time ever running the event.
“I saw everyone ahead of me was picking up the pace,” she said after clocking a time of 14:13.70. “Everyone was going faster so I decided to pick up the pace.”
Prado wasn’t nearly as good as Van Even when she was in middle school. Prado attended middle school at the Hernandez School so she couldn’t compete in high school track before she got to O’Bryant in the ninth grade.
“In seventh grade I got last place all the time, I was terrible,” Prado said of middle school track, which doesn’t include a race longer than 800-meters.
Prado’s middle school coach, Michael Baugh, however, saw potential in her.
“He said ‘She’s more of a distance runner,’” Ortega said of Baugh, who currently coaches Dorchester High. “He said, ‘the more she runs the better she gets.’ I said I’ll take your word for it.”
Even after she settling into the 2-mile, Prado has had some ups and downs. She said she wasn’t feeling motivated during her last two races going into cities and did not perform well.
“The last two races I didn’t really believe in myself,” she said. “But I had support from my team and my cross country coach and my track coach. It was awesome. It’s like I don’t push myself until the cities. That’s where it all goes down and my adrenaline level kicks in.
“I just told myself I want this."
And now she wants the four-peat.
“I think so,” she said. “I hope so.”
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