As Myles Carrico (‘20) took the baton on the last leg of the 4×400 relay, he had one goal – get the baton over the finish line and collect his team’s first state championship win since 2011 . On Saturday, February 8th, the Oyster River Boys Indoor Track and Field team won the D2 Indoor State Championship meet at the Dartmouth Track in Hanover, NH. The team finished with 68 points, only 7 ahead of the runner up, Windham.
“After the win the team was ecstatic. All of our work that we’ve been putting in for years finally paid off in a really satisfying way,” said Carrico. Carrico gained key points for his team with a win in the 1000 meters (2:37.44), 6th place in the 1500 meters (4:19.51), and anchored his team’s second place in the 4×400 relay.
“Going into my races I knew that I wanted to win both,” said Andy O’Brien, who won both the 1500 meters (4:10.88) and the 3000 meters (9:03.02). “My strategy in both races was to sit and kick. I wanted to let the other guys set the pace and lay back while I waited,” he added.
Carrico, along with Owen Fleischer (‘21) (2:38.54), had a similar strategy in the 1000 meter. “I let anyone who wanted to go to the lead do so for the first few laps and just ran them easy then really only started racing about 500 meters in. I knew Owen would thrive off a sit and kick race as well since his raw speed is just as good if not better than anyone else in the state so I was very confident we’d be able to get the 1-2 finish,” Carrico said.
Points also came from Trevor Sassaman (‘20) who got a second place finish in the 600 meters (1:28.46), and Dillon Labonte (‘22) who finished 6th in the 3000 meters (9:15.03). The team also gained crucial points in the the 4×800 relay (Noah Hall (‘20), Keane Swiesz (‘23), Duisberg (‘20), and Sassaman) along with the 4×400 relay (Fleischer, Henry Duisberg, Sassaman, and Carrico) to solidify the win. Others finished right outside of a top sixth (top six places score points) finish with William Graffe (‘20) getting 7th (8.379) in the 55 meter hurdles – 8/1000th of a second behind 6th place, and Owen MacManes (‘20) who also finished 7th in the Shot Put (39-05.00).
“Our strategy was to put athletes in races that they could win with the least amount of effort and then the most recovery time between races,” said head coach Nicholas Ricciardi. The team went into the meet with only 13 athletes competing for the boys.
“For the team it means a lot. Since we had such a small crew we were really lucky to have so much talent all around,” said LaBelle-Brown, who finished 2nd in the high jump at a height of 6 feet even.
Ricciardi stressed the importance of strategy when going into a meet like this one. “We talk about points over performances at state meets,” he said. Ricciardi entered his athletes in events that he felt they would be able to get the best finishes and gain the most points with the least amount of effort put in.
“The other part of a state meet is that we need other teams to [run well] that are not in the hunt to win… we needed other teams to do well against Windham’s sprinters,” said Ricciardi. With only 7 points separating the Bobcats and Windham in the final standings, Oyster River needed sprinters from other schools to perform well to minimize the amount of points the Windham athletes were able to score in the sprint events, Windham’s strongest events.
When it came to making final decisions about what events Carrico and O’Brien would run in order to maximize the amount of points that would be scored, Ricciardi and distance coach, Drew Thibault, elected to have them run an extra individual event rather than the 4×800 relay. This ultimately paid off in order to win the team championship but, made it so the Bobcat’s 4×800 relay (arguably the team’s strongest overall event) did not qualify for the New England championship. However, this past weekend the quartet of Carrico, O’Brien, Fleischer, and Sassaman ran at the Armory in New York City and achieved a school record time of (8:05.24) and qualified for Nationals. ‘The entire trip to New York was amazing. Drew Thibault has done an amazing job coaching and helping us make it to nationals in the 4×800. Trevor, Andy, Owen and I all go way back and to accomplish such a huge goal with your best friends by your side makes it so much more worth it as well,” said Carrico.