By Tim Lima
---- — MANHATTAN, N.Y. – The bright lights of New York City shined upon two of the area’s three track stars Friday night as they competed in the New Balance Nationals Indoor Championship Meet.
Triton’s Kerstin Darsney and Newburyport’s Tom Graham and Nick Carleo made the trip to nationals. Darsney and Graham competed in the event’s opening night, while Carleo will run the one mile race on Sunday.
Graham’s would record his best performance in the biggest meet of his life, where he ran a personal best in the 800-meter run.
“The meet was really good,” Graham said. “I ended up running a personal record of 159.01, so it was great. I had higher expectations of myself and wished I could have shaved a couple of seconds off of my time, but it was a great. I’m definitely pleased with the result.”
Factoring in experience level makes Graham’s accomplishment at National’s that much more impressive.
“Tommy has only run a couple 800-meter races so we are hoping he runs the best race of his life,” Newburyport coach Tim Foley said before the race. “He’s obviously a novice in the 800 and is running against some of the East Coast’s top runners. We are hoping for a time below 158.
To put Graham’s time in perspective, last year’s top finisher in the 800-meter race recorded a time of 1:51.37.
While Darsney would have an off night in the meet, clearing 5’2’’ in the high jump, it was still a worthwhile experience for the Triton track star headed to the University of Massachusetts Lowell next year to compete at the Division I level.
The United States high school girls record for the high jump is 5’11.5’’.
“I think it was an unfamiliar environment for her,” said Triton head coach Joe Colbert. “It was the first time at a meet of this stature for her and it was just an unfamiliar surrounding. I think it was a valuable experience for her to come down, though. She was loving the fact that she was around the best athletes in the country for her level.”
Though ending with different results, both were able to take in the unique environment without suffering from nerves.
“I was more excited than anything,” Graham said. “I knew I was going to go out there and have fun and do my best. Being in New York City was the best thing about it all for me. I have never been here before, so it was just a new experience. Getting to see the big city was awesome.”
Even minutes before her event began, Darsney was enjoying the surroundings along with her friends and family.
“She came down with her mom and her best friend and was relaxed, loose and having a good time,” Colbert said. “They make the kids feel like they’re something special. There was a huge crowd and it was really loud and she took it all in. The result wasn’t what she hoped for but she’s happy she made it down here.”