Track and field off to great start, but tougher competition looms

When it comes to describing how the boys and girls track and field teams have fared to begin the season, the word dominant would be an understatement. Not only are both teams undefeated, they have been sprinting past and jumping over the competition. The Magicians already have wins over fellow NEC schools Swampscott, Salem, Danvers, and Winthrop. 

Most of those wins were done so with double digit point margins on both sides, however, with three of those teams trying to jump start the programs, the exception being Danvers, Head Coach Nolan Raimo said the teams haven’t faced their toughest challenges yet. 

“We haven’t faced the bulk of the competition in the NEC,” Raimo said. “Danvers is probably the most competitive opponent we’ve faced so far, the rest being in somewhat of a rebuild state. Our more challenging meets are coming up.”

Though Raimo couldn’t be happier with how his teams have performed over the first few meets, he knows that both are going to be tested over the next month with matchups against Beverly and Peabody on the horizon. He described Peabody as a “juggernaut” because of their dominance year in and year out since they joined the NEC. However, Beverly has now inserted themselves into the mix as they took down the Tanners back on Dec. 22, making themselves viable contenders for the NEC title. 

Raimo says Peabody will be tough to knock off in the conference championship on the boys side due to their depth, however they have a real chance at beating them in the regular season, along with Beverly, to go undefeated in dual meets. On the girls side, Raimo believes it will be the opposite. They might struggle for a few meets during the season, but have a legitimate chance to claim the NEC crown. 

No matter what, Raimo’s squad will be ready for whatever comes its way based on how they train at the beginning of the season and he believes that the workouts and practices that took place within the first few weeks will have a direct impact on athletes peaking at the right time.

“We’ve really been training super hard in this first month or so. In years past we’ve traditionally kind of had easier workouts earlier in the year in order to compete at our highest level,” he said. “I think we’ve kind of learned over the years that when we cut back our work early in the season, the long term effects are pretty strong in terms of kids burning out and not having their legs under them when February comes around. So our hope is that training heavier now, in anticipation for a long postseason run for a lot of these kids is going to pay off.”

Most importantly, the depth of the team is what will propel them going forward. Having a deep roster is not only important towards being able to score points at meets, but it creates more competition between teammates and event groups, resulting in better individual performances. Raimo also notes that having a top performer in each event is a huge advantage because they will naturally lift their teammates to better performances, and used star sophomore Ava Machado as an example. 

“When you have a strong runner in a group, they kind of bring everyone else around them to new levels. When you have that everyday a week and you go out there to run 300 meter repeats and you have someone like Ava Machado, who is a sophomore and is arguably a top ten sprinter in the state, when you have someone like that next to you and seeing how they can work and be able to push you, it definitely raises everyone around them.”

Big things are certainly on the horizon for both the boys and girls teams and Raimo is hoping that the teams can place well at the Division 3 Championships in February. But for now, the teams must have their eyes set on a big matchup against the Beverly Panthers on Jan. 12th at Beverly High School.

  • Ryan Vermette is the Item's Marblehead reporter. He graduated from Springfield College in 2021 with a Bachelor's degree in Communications/Sports Journalism. While in school, he wrote multiple sports articles for the school newspaper, the Springfield Student, and joined Essex Media Group in August, 2022. Ryan is a college basketball fanatic and an avid Boston sports fan and in his free time, enjoys video games and Marvel movies.