Nkwantah Second in Two Events
FITCHBURG — The Fitchburg High girls outdoor track and field team might not have had the numbers to bring in team hardware during the dual meet season, but the Red Raiders sure do have an abundance of high-end talent.
Saturday at the Central West Division 1 Track and Field Championship, four local athletes took home gold medals, but it was the Fitchburg girls that snatched two of them, as Wonuola Ashaju won the triple jump and Olamide Bamgbose secured the long jump at Fitchburg State University’s Elliot Field Athletic Complex.
The Nashoba girls tallied the highest team score with a ninth-place finish with 36 points. Fitchburg finished tenth with 30 points, North Middlesex took 13th with 24.5 points, and Leominster finished 25th with 3 points.
On the boys’ side, North Middlesex took top local honors finishing eighth with 38 points. Nashoba placed 16th with 17.5 points, Fitchburg tied for 18th with 14 points, and Leominster finished right behind its rivals in 20th with 13 points.
Ashaju is no stranger to the gold medal stand as she won the same event, the long jump, last year as well at the central west championship. It was clear sailing in 2019 as her jump of 37 feet 8 inches was almost a foot ahead of the nearest competitor. With the victory, along with all other top three performers, Ashaju will be moving onto next week’s state championship meet at Westfield State University
“It’s been a goal of (Ashaju) to get back to states, it’s been her goal all season,” Fitchburg High head coach Sara Lamey said. “We’ve been working toward it all season, and she accomplished it today, and that’s a big win.”
Bamgbose is just a sophomore, and saved her personal best for the best time. Her new record is 17-6 just a half inch ahead of Grafton sophomore Fleur Balogh de Galantha, which was good enough for first.
″(Bamgbose) has been consistent at over 17 feet the last few weeks,” Lamey said. “I know she was optimistic this year, after last year when she missed her finals attempts. That’s been a motivator for her, because she was denied the opportunity, she earned last year.”
The two Raider gold medalist won’t be going to state’s alone as senior Emerson Scott will also make the trip, after finishing in third place in the 400-meter hurdles with a 1:07.21. Scott, a true hurdle specialist, did double duty in the 100m hurdles, finishing eighth with a 16.37.
The Fitchburg 4x100m relay took sixth (51.53) to round out the scoring.
The third local first-place finish went to Nashoba senior Cat Fox. Fox eclipsed the meet record in the pole vault, vaulting 11 feet even and winning the tie breaker with Algonquin’s Rai Ann Bu for the individual title.
“Due to the hard work and dedication that Cat spent over the last four years she just jumped 11 feet,” Nashoba girls’ head coach Dan Glover said. “She’s gotten a lot of personal records this year, and it is really great to see her rewarded for her hard work.”
As history typical goes for the Chieftains, the distance crew was able to bring home some points. Sophomore Ali Gillooly placed fifth in the 2 mile with a 11:38.03. Senior Alexandra Bettez finished her career in seventh place in the 800m run (2:28.08) after tripping early in the race.
The hurdles were another good source of scoring for Nashoba, as Rose O’Riorden just narrowly missed out automatically qualifying for the state championship, settling for fourth (1:07.66) behind Scott. Natasha Ramos earned seventh in the 100m hurdles (16.26 seconds).
Ramos was a scoring machine, as she also placed fourth in the long jump (17-02) and sixth in the triple jump (34-02.50).
Sydney Frend took home a fourth-place medal in the discus (92-11).
NORTH MIDDLESEX —
North Middlesex junior Martina Nkwantah was a star the moment she walked on the track oval for the Patriots, and in that regard not much has changed. Nkwantah finished second in the shot put with a 35-09.50 and took home second in the javelin 118-11, punching a ticket to Westfield in two events.
″(Nkwantah) is a star in the shot in the javelin, she can run the 100,” North Middlesex head coach John Caouette said. “She’s a true athlete, and she can do anything we ask her to do.”
Myah Johnson tied for fifth in the high jump (5 feet), Morgan Nesbit finished eighth in the mile (5:28.74), and Martina’s sister Catherine Nkwantah was a double scorer with sixth in the shot put (34-03) and eighth in the discus (85-07).
The Groton Dunstable girls took home fifth place overall with 47 points. Moriah Scharn finished fourth in the 100 hurdles, the 4x400m relay will move onto states taking third (4:15.32) .Sarah Bushnell (triple jump) finished third (36-04). Liz Zawade took fourth in the javelin (104-09). Sarah Maple finished third in the mile (5:12.24). Sydney Adams placed fourth in the 2 mile (11:36.04).
Leominster sophomore Arianna Constant was responsible for all of the Blue Devils’ scoring, as she settled for sixth place, after losing the tie-breaker with Algonquin’s Kate McNeil, with a launch of 111-08.
NORTH MIDDLESEX —
The final local gold medal came prior to Saturday’s meet in the pole vault, as Edward McCarthy won the event by a foot on Friday, finishing with a 14 foot vault to move on. The top boys’ performance on Saturday came from 100-meter hurdler Nicholas Woolsey, who finished second overall in the event with a 14.85. Jack Galligan, a sophomore, also scored in the event, taking fourth (15.59). Galligan doubled back placing fifth in the 400-meter hurdles (58.50).
Senior, and traditional powerhouse, Carson Doody will move onto states in the javelin as he finished third (163-02). The triple jump (43-10), which he finished fourth in, was his strong suit for years, and he may have done that for the last time in high school. Doody has been suffering from injuries all season long which limited his attempts on Saturday.
“Doody has been out for four months with ankle injury,” Caouette said. “He is just returning now. In the triple jump we only allow him three jumps, if he’s healthy he wins this meet, no question.”
Pacing Nashoba were two third place performances. Upcoming star freshman Freddy Collins shined on the biggest stage of his career to this point, as he took third in the 2 mile (10:02.52) punching his first ticket to states in his first try.
“Freddy Collins is amazing, the kid is a ninth grader,” Nashoba boys’ head coach Jim Nosel said. “He’s been going back and forth with Groton-Dunstable’s Eli Kritzer...today Freddy ran a little bit smarter and was where he wanted to be, and the last lap he just kept going.”
Junior teammate Mason Jones took home third in the pole vault on Friday (12-06) to get the Chieftains started in the right direction.
Luke Halbrooks tied for sixth in the high jump (6-00). Ethan Sarafin, a senior, placed seventh in the 400 run (51.61). Tristan O’Riorden rounded out the scoring and placed eighth in the 110mb hurdles (15.81) in his first appearance ever as a freshman.
Fitchburg’s Evans Oduro is a bit of a Renaissance man when it comes to track, he can do it all .Oduro hit a qualifying mark in the long jump (21-04) placing third.
The Red Raider senior also took fifth in the triple jump (43-04), and fifth in the 110m hurdles (15.60), scoring all of Fitchburg’s 14 points by himself.
“I’m happy that I’m able to move on and show more of my skills to Massachusetts and score some points for my school,” Oduro said. “I’m going to UMass Lowell in the fall, and it’s been a great year.”
Leominster senior Joachim Ennoo delivered in the big moment, taking home second place by a quarter of an inch in the triple jump, to move his way on to Westfield (44-00.25). Ennoo was also responsible for all of his team’s points, as he placed fourth in the long jump (21-02.50) to make it a lucky 13 scored on the day.
The Crusaders scored eight points and finished 23rd. Thomas Orcutt took sixth in the 800 in 1:59.76.
Zachariah Elmasri was eighth in the 400 in 51.81.