West Springfield girls capture first national track title at New Balance Outdoor event

June 16, 2013

West Springfield’s distance medley relay girls looked at winning a New Balance Outdoor National Championship as doable, if a bit improbable.

Even with 400 meters to go and running the best mile of her life, Caroline Alcorta was unsure the Spartans would make history, afraid someone with a major kick might catch her.

Instead, Alcorta blazed across the finish at North Carolina A&T in a personal-record 4 minutes 50.172 seconds Sunday, and the Spartan girls became West Springfield’s first female national track champs in 11:51.46, nearly two seconds ahead of runner-up Warwick Valley (11:53.33).

Coach Chris Pellegrini thought the girls could run as fast as 11:45, but there was still a state of happy disbelief in the hours after the race.

“I don’t think it’s totally sunk in,” Alcorta said.

The anchor made her move early in the final lap and eliminated any drama with 50 meters left.

“I tried to pace myself a lot more instead of going out too fast or too slow,” Alcorta said. “I guess the surprise of being first kind of helped me go on. I was getting scared that somebody was going to come up on me.”

Katie Kennedy (1,200 meters in 3:41.153), Michelle Lipka (400 in 1:01.075) and Reagan Bustamente (800 in 2:19.054) set up Alcorta, who moved West Springfield from fourth to first in her dash to the finish.

“Our girls put themselves where I asked them to be,” Pellegrini said. “It did look like most of the field was very, very fatigued, and it looked like our girls did a very good job of racing within themselves.”

The Forest Park state champion 4x100 relay squad of Ricky Morgan (who also placed fifth in the 400 with a 46.67), Joshua Washington, Elijah Newsom and Mustaqeem Williams came excruciatingly close to the national championship, coming in second by just 0.01 of a second (40.55) to Edna Karr (40.54). Nevertheless, the all-American Bruins broke the Virginia record set in 1993 by T.C. Williams (40.56), according to MileStat.

DeMatha’s 800-meter sprint medley team of Jahlan Gordon, Kordell Williams, Darryl Haraway and John Oputa (1:32.28) also had a near-miss, placing second behind Knightdale (1:31.38) to become all-Americans.

Westfield’s Nathan Kiley earned the accolade as well, running the 800 in 1:49.99 to place fourth, and T.C. Williams’s Noah Lyles matched his finish in the 200 (21.59).

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