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Somerville's Genard wins national javelin title

Posted by Marcia Dick  June 20, 2011 10:20 AM

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Stephen Infascelli photo via MileSplitMass

Nicole Genard receives her medal for winning the javelin.

Somerville High junior Nicole Genard won the girls' javelin title and set the meet record at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

Genard, competing in the Emerging Elite field, made her winning throw of 133 feet, 5 inches (40.67 meters) on her second of six attempts.

She also placed seventh in the 100-meter hurdles final in the Emerging Elite group, with a time of 15.03 seconds.

Charlie O’Rourke has been at the helm of the girls’ track and field program at Somerville High School since 1975. He has seen athletes of all levels, and achievement.

And he is quite clear in his assessment of Genard, his talented junior.

‘‘Nicole is one of the top two, best all-around athletes I’ve ever coached,’’ said O’Rourke. ‘‘She can do everything: run, throw, and jump. She came on as a freshman and immediately made an impact on the team and made us more successful.’’

This spring, she has been sensational: the Division 1 state champion in the javelin with a school-record toss of 127 feet, 9 inches, along with a runner-up finish in the 100-meter hurdles; a pair of third-place finishes at the All-State meet; and a pair of fifths at the New England meet last weekend in Burlington, Vt.

Genard and teammates Gelynne Berger, Ashley Murphy,  and Michel’le Meranda  also captured the D1 title in the 4x100 meter relay in a time of 49.89, breaking the school record (50.23) set in 1979. She also won the North title in the heptathlon.

‘‘It’s been an up-and-down season, especially after what happened at the end of the indoor season,’’ said Genard, referring to an injury.

‘‘I knew she could do it all, but to have her win the heptathlon, that sort of proves it to everyone else,’’ said O’Rourke. ‘‘She is the best all-around track athlete in the state. It’s hard to say what her best event is because she’s great at everything she tries.’’ 

Her sterling performances this spring are even more impressive considering her painful setback during the indoor season.

At a dual meet, Genard came down hard on her right heel while running the hurdles. She suffered a deep bone bruise.

‘‘I remember falling and not being able to get up on my own. The doctors said I needed crutches for two months, but there was no way I could sit that long,’’ said Genard. ‘‘I was practicing after a week or so, running races in pain and limping after I was done. I just had to do what I had to do.’’

She credits her intense drive and work ethic to her mother, Adeline Saintvel.  The two came to this country from the Dominican Republic when Genard was in seventh grade.

‘‘She works two, sometimes three, jobs and supports me and my grandmother here,’’ said Genard. ‘‘She sends money to our family in the Dominican and in Haiti, so my mom is how I learned to be a strong, independent woman who works hard to be successful.’’
Genard is a captain-elect and is determined to run as a collegian. If all goes as planned, she will be the first person in her family to attend college. 

‘‘She is an amazing athlete, but has such a great story behind her. She grew up in the Dominican, English is her third language, and she comes here and right away she excels on this team,’’ said O’Rourke.

 ‘‘She won’t be an official leader until next year, but she’s the best athlete on the team, and that makes her teammates look up to her. She sets an example without trying and is the perfect mixture of extreme talent and extreme intensity as a competitor.’’

Sapna Pathak can be reached at


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