By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Tim Foley has been coaching track at Newburyport High School for more than two decades, and over the years he has coached some truly outstanding athletes.
Yet when it comes to standout junior Nick Carleo, Foley doesn’t hold back when it comes to assessing his place in Newburyport track history.
“He’s the best we’ve ever had,” Foley said. “That’s where we’re at right now.”
Carleo just completed one of the best seasons in Massachusetts history, capturing just about every accolade a high school track athlete could possibly earn short of a National Championship. He won the league championship in the 1,000-meter run, along with state championships in the mile at both the Division 5 and All-State championship meets.
He also earned CAL Athlete of the Year, led his team to a perfect dual meet season and its fourth-consecutive state championship, and to cap it all off, he placed sixth in the country in the mile at the New Balance National Championships, setting a new personal record time of 4:14.35 to earn All-American honors.
“To make All-American as a junior and run 4:14, win the league meet, win the divisional meet, win the All-State meet, he put together a tremendous season,” said assistant coach Don Hennigar, who traveled with Carleo to New York earlier this month to coach him at Nationals.
Carleo has been on a skyward trajectory ever since he first arrived at Newburyport High School. After a breakout freshman season in cross-country, Carleo decided to try winter track instead of basketball, and by the end of the season he had qualified for Freshman Nationals.
Since then, he has collected championships across the three running seasons, and being only a junior, Foley said he believes Carleo has still yet to reach his full potential.
“He can only get better if he keeps working with coach Hennigar and working on the fundamentals,” Foley said. “All the accolades he’s gotten, he’s earned, it’s all hard work and his perseverance and determination.”
What the future holds for Carleo is anyone’s guess, though everyone agrees that as long as he keeps working hard, his future is bright and the sky is the limit. Hennigar doubts that will be a problem, though, saying that not only is Carleo an outstanding talent, he’s also an outstanding person.
“The best thing about it is he’s not at all cocky about it and he understands that there’s still a lot more there, that he can accomplish a lot more,” Hennigar said. “He’s still hungry to keep going. He’s matured a lot, he gets things now, he’s an easy kid to coach.”
Carleo said he hopes to run in college someday, and next year he’d like to repeat as an All-American and potentially challenge for the national championship, but in the meantime, his main goal is to just keep improving, and the first step will be to help lead his team to another successful year in the upcoming outdoor season.