By Dan Guttenplan
---- — BOSTON — The Newburyport boys indoor track team is making it look easy, but its recent run of dominance in the Cape Ann League has come with its share of dramatic finishes.
The Clippers clinched their third Cape Ann League Open championship in the last four seasons last night in the final event at the Reggie Lewis Center, holding off second-place Masconomet by four points. It was really a two-team chase for the title all night, with Newburyport (102 points) and Masconomet (98) creating plenty of distance between themselves and the field. Third-place North Reading scored 54 points, followed by Amesbury (36), Ipswich (29), Hamilton-Wenham (25), Manchester Essex (14), Lynnfield (9) and Triton (4).
Newburyport caps a season of dominance in CAL action. The Clippers went 8-0 in dual meets, matching last year’s perfect season and CAL Open title.
“We felt confident we had a good chance of winning,” Newburyport captain Sawyer Updike said. “We knew it would take a lot of hard work, but we did it.”
Newburyport entered the final two events — the 4x800 relay and 4x400 relay — with a four-point lead over Masconomet. The Clippers gave themselves some breathing room when Joe Santo, James Nutter, Carlo and Updike outkicked Masconomet with a meet-record time of 8:41.66. In the final event, Newburyport needed only a third-place finish if Masconomet won the event to clinch the title. The Clippers finished second behind Masconomet.
“I didn’t have to say anything to the kids because they always know the score,” Newburyport coach Tim Foley said. “They’re astute kids. They have it all figured out. Those last two relays came up huge. What a season.”
The Clippers were strong on the track, with first-place finishes in five of the seven individual events. Jared Healey (55-meter dash, 6.92), Nutter (600, 1:27.10), Updike (1,000, 2:38.39), Carleo (mile, 4:29.87) and Santo (9:54.13) collected league titles. Newburyport’s Steve Preston added a league title in the shot put with a meet and school record of 57-7 3/4.
“I think we realized it was going well when Steve threw for the school record in the shot put,” Carleo said. “Even though it was early in the meet, it set the tone for all of us.”
Amesbury was a surprise fourth-place finisher after a 2-6 season. Doug Masi (55-meter dash, 6.95), Nicholas Fiorella (long jump, 17-5 1/2) and Perry Mroz (shot put, 46-5 1/4) posted second-place finishes.
The girls’ meet offered much more parity, with the top five teams placing within 20 points of each other. Ipswich (68 points), Masconomet (64) and Hamilton-Wenham (54) finished in the top three spots, with local teams Pentucket (49) and Newburyport (48) rounding out the top five. Amesbury (16) was eighth, and Triton tied for ninth (12).
Pentucket’s Paige Wesolowski earned a league title in the 600 meters (1:43.06), finishing just ahead of teammate Marissa Porter (1:43.50). Pentucket’s Ali Attenasio (55-meter hurdles, 9.31) and Chase Marcotte (55-meter hurdles, 9.36) also placed second and third, respectively.
Newburyport’s Carly Brand placed second in the 55-meter dash (7.79), just ahead of teammate Katie Gorenflo, who placed third (7.85). Meri Adsit was second in the shot put (31-11) for the Clippers. Newburyport’s Bella Palma (1:44.38) placed third.
Amesbury’s Julia Shorter placed third in the mile (5:27.95), while teammate Marissa Randall finished third in the shot put (31-0 3/4).
Foley was ecstatic with his team’s fifth-place finish a year after the Clippers tallied all of two points in the CAL Open.
“The girls were great,” Foley said. “To go from two points to 48, we’ll take it. Mike (McCormick) and Donny (Hennigar) put the kids in the right places, and they run well. It’s all good.”