Felty, Paige Steal the Spotlight at All-States
ROXBURY -- Between the boys and girls All-State Track & Field Championship meets, there were a combined four first-place finishes for local athletes, but two of the three individuals took their status to a level that’s basically unheard of around here.
Aiden Felty, a senior at Innovation Academy in Tyngsboro, absolutely shattered a meet record that has stood since before he was born. In five of his six throws in the shot put competition, including his final of 66-4.25.
The Billerica resident, who is headed to Duke University next fall, broke the mark set by Jeff Chakouian of Seekonk, who threw 61-9 back in February of 2000.
While that happened outside of the track, inside with the running events Tewksbury High sophomore Makayla Paige took the 600-meter title with a personal record time of 1:29.71.
That blazing time not only broke the meet record set by Stoneham’s Maura McCusker back in 1999, it became the all-time best in New England, bettering the 1:30.79 set in 2012. Paige is also currently ranked second in the entire country, behind Athing Mu of Trenton, N.J.
A year ago, the cases were different for both Felty and Paige. At last year’s All-State meet, Felty finished 16th, throwing 46-2.75, and Paige was second at 1:34.64, finishing behind Wellesley’s Abby Comella, who finished second to Paige on Saturday.
Felty said he needed to redeem himself.
“This one is pretty cool because it’s the biggest meet in Massachusetts and it’s the first All-State championship that I have ever won indoors,” he said. “Last year I was really upset because I basically fouled out of the meet. So to come back, break the record, win and do all of that is awesome. This is the greatest feeling.”
Felty feels that his drastic improvement of 20 feet from a year ago and his record-setting throw is all due to the changing of his daily workouts.
“I’ve changed my training down a bit so I feel better and I feel fresher,” he said. “Overall, I just feel like I’m a better athlete. Normally I do strength training and that really kills my body and just taxes it. Now I do a lot of speed stuff, lighter weights and just not doing as much. Hopefully next week I’ll show more improvement, then the week after that will be the nationals and I’m hoping to get after it there.”
After throwing 59-8 on his first throw, Felty followed with five straight that would have all broken the record. Before the final throw, he said he just followed some advice.
“It was kind of an all or nothing throw,” he said. “My coach told me to hold on to the shot put a little bit longer. I was releasing it early and (my throws) would go to the right side, instead of the center-left. It was just a little tiny tweak. He also told me to step up my intensity -- get excited and hyped over it. That all worked.”
Paige becomes the second individual All-State champ from Tewksbury in three years, joining Rachel Sessa, who won the outdoor mile back in 2017.
“I think the race really played out perfectly for Makayla,” said head coach Peter Molloy. “It was all of the right circumstances for her. It went out fast and smooth, and Makayla took control of it but she always had Abby on her heels. It was really the most ideal racing conditions Makayla could have asked for and it produced the most ideal result.
“Makayla is just a special talent.”
After Paige crossed the finish line, she threw her hands up in the air in excitement, knowing she did it.
“Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to start crying,” she said. “I was so excited. I saw the clock at the end and I just kept telling myself just to finish and I would get a personal record.”
Paige thought that she would also be going up against Littleton’s Sarah Roffman in the 600, but the senior who will be off to Cornell decided to run the two-mile and the 4x800-relay instead. That strategy worked as she took home the two-mile title at 10:40.83, almost three full seconds ahead of runner-up Lauren Grela of Ursuline Academy.
“The plan was not to try to separate early because I knew the other girls in the race would be very capable of setting the pace, so I just wanted to stay back and see what I could do over the last few laps,” said Roffman.
“I felt comfortable with 400 (meters) to go. At the 600-mark, I was questioning my move, but 400 to go, I felt strong and in control (of the race) and was just trying to maintain the lead.”
The final first-place finish came from the Lowell 4x200 relay team of seniors Kimesha Lewis and Jordan Lamarre, with sophomore Elizabeth Tighe and freshman Casey Mitchell. They combined to run 1:44.46 to make LHS program history.
“It’s very special,” said head coach Tim Patterson. “For that to be the first time a relay team has won an All-state title in program history just goes to show you how competitive this state is -- absolutely so tough. The title means a lot to me, it means a lot to the coaching staff and I know it means an awful lot to the four girls.”
Lewis had an incredible day as she was also second in the 300 at 40.11 and seventh in the 55-meter dash at 7.45. Her time in the 300 broke a school record of 40.90, originally set by Lynn Jean.
“I was just coming in with the mindset to win, get a personal record and try for the school record,” she said. “Overnight, I was thinking about wanting to really go for it. Warming up I felt good and I just trusted myself and let it all go.”
The top six in each event advance to the New England Meet set for Saturday at 10:30 a.m. back at the Reggie Lewis Center. Joining those four champs on the girls’ side will be Billerica’s Nicole Anderson, who broke a school record in the 1,000-meters with her third place finish of 2:54.08, while she joined Sam Maffeo, Hannah Doherty and Deidra Anderson to place sixth in the 4x800-relay at 9:31.06. Also, Wilmington High senior Emma Garrity was fifth in the 600 at 1:36.62.
Lewis in the dash as well as teammate Deborah Zahui Gboignon, who was seventh in the shot put at 36-03.50, also earned medals and will serve as alternates.
On the boys’ side, Tewksbury’s Casey Ryan finished eighth in the two-mile at 9:36.56.