School Pride on Display
FITCHBURG — For the last five years, and eight out of the past 10, the Fitchburg High School junior girls have had the dubious honor of snatching victory away from their senior counterparts in the annual Junior-Senior Relays event. You can pretty much bet on it, given the way things have been.
For a good portion — nearly 19 legs — of the 105th edition of the famed race at historic Crocker Field, the Class of 2020 had made it six straight times.
But no one seemed to tell seniors Deandre Boddie and Jazmany Melendez of that fact — and they probably didn’t even care about it, either.
A strong 19th leg out of Boddie and an even stronger anchor leg out of Melendez stole victory from the jaws of defeat Thursday evening, as the senior girls captured victory for the first time since 2013.
In the boys’ race, the juniors raced to an easy win over the Class of 2019.
For the junior girls, everything started well in what turned out to be the best race of the night: Jolimar Zambrano pulled ahead in the second leg, before Anna Jordan closed the gap for the Class of 2019 two legs later.
Olivia Triolo would hold off the seniors in the sixth leg, with FHS softballer Elise Pierce extending the lead with a healthy stride.
In the ninth leg, junior Isabella Arsenault closed in on Abrianna McCall at the clubhouse turn, taking a short lead.
But Natalia Valentin had a strong 10th leg to sweep around her junior counterpart in the home stretch to put the seniors ahead. The juniors reclaimed the lead thanks to a strong leg by Madyson Jarrett in the 11th; by the time Alejandra Zambrano took the baton for the juniors in the 15th leg, the Class of 2020 held a 50-meter edge.
Not so fast, said the seniors, as softballer Emma Auger — complete with a white tutu — helped cut into the underclassmen’s lead.
But a strong leg by Boddie saw her hand off to Melendez, who turned on the afterburners approaching the scoreboard, sneaking by the junior anchor to nip her by only three strides at the finish line.
For the junior boys, who had a habit of mugging for Fitchburg Access Television’s camera near the flagpole, Gio Maronne’s strong leg early left the Class of 2019 in the Class of 2020′s dust. The juniors came within 100 meters of lapping the seniors, but the seniors managed to hold that off in the last five legs.
Edwin Santana finished off the win for the juniors, doing so by 150 meters.
In the elementary girls’ race, South Street took command following a fumble with the baton by Reingold in the second of five laps, and it was able to hold on the rest of the way, even extending the lead in the last few legs.
In the elementary boys’ race, Crocker Elementary had taken a slim lead away from Reingold, but on the sixth leg, South Street swept around the Cubs and into the lead the rest of the way.
In the fifth-grade middle school race, Longsjo had jumped out to an early lead, but a strong leg by Memorial’s Kingston Aldrich had, for the moment, shifted control to the Panthers. But Simon Bean’s strong ninth leg reclaimed the lead for the Olympians, and the Academy Streeters would hold on for the remainder.
In the sixth-grade race, Memorial took control two laps in and didn’t relent thanks to an exquisite hand-off between Nico Cosme and Amaris Asenjo, extending the lead on Longsjo to 200 meters — a full leg — with two legs to go. But the fight for second came right down to the final leg, as McKay’s anchor swung around Longsjo’s in the home stretch and held on for the last 20 meters.
In the seventh- and eighth-grade race, Longsjo already had a sizable lead by the time Yasmarie Torres took the baton, and the Olympians would cruise the rest of the way to earn Longsjo’s second middle school win of the night.
In the freshman-sophomore race, it was very close at the start, but Marina Camiyou helped get the lead out to 20 meters for the Class of 2021. Yet the strong eighth leg run by Kaden Scopelliti extended the lead, and the sophomore class held serve rather easily the rest of the way.