By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT – Three local athletes are heading to New York this weekend for the New Balance National Championship meet, where they will compete against some of the top track athletes in the nation.
Newburyport’s Nick Carleo and Tom Graham, both juniors, and Triton’s Kerstin Darsney, a senior, are all making the trip to Manhattan for the weekend-long competition at The Armory track and field facility. Graham and Darsney will compete in the 800-meter run and high jump respectively this afternoon, while Carleo will compete in the mile on Sunday.
The three each qualified for the prestigious meet by recording times and scores that placed them among the top in the country. G
raham qualified after finishing the 800-meter in 1:59.50, Carleo ran the mile with a time of 4:15.26 to win the mile at All-States, and Darsney cleared 5 feet 8 inches to win the Division III State Championship.
Darsney’s jump at states ranked as the third highest in the country, but after she was unable to come close to duplicating those results at All States or at New Englands, Triton coach Joe Colbert opted to let her rest so she would be fresh for Nationals, a strategy, he said, that seems to have paid off.
“She’s really healthy and rested,” Colbert said.
“We felt that after All-States and New Englands she was really tired, she didn’t jump nearly her best, so the last couple of weeks we’ve really backed up. She just did some regular basic work and some resting and she says she feels great.”
Newburyport coach Tim Foley said Graham and Carleo are each in great shape to compete as well, and they’re all hopeful that the event will be a fun and exciting experience.
“Everything’s been going really well, they’re looking forward to the meet,” he said.
This will actually be Carleo’s second trip to Nationals. He previously competed in the meet his freshman year, though he didn’t run his best race and finished several seconds off his qualifying time to place 16th.
This time, Carleo said he hopes to sneak into the fastest heat and potentially finish in the top six, which would earn him All-American status and a huge championship medal.
Graham and Darsney have each said they’re less focused on a particular result, but rather performing well and soaking in the experience of competing against the best athletes in the country.
“It’s a big thing for her, she’s very excited about it, but she’s going down more with the idea that it’s a great experience,” Colbert said of Darsney.
“I don’t think she’s placing any pressure on herself.”
Colbert added that since Darsney is headed to UMass Lowell to run Division I track next year, this will be a great chance for her to compete in a high level meet against the level of competition she will likely see in college.
Same for Carleo and Graham, who have each said they plan to run in college, though they aren’t sure where at this point in time.