Amesbury indoor track mile relay team speaks out

By Dom Nicastro/amesbury.sports@cnc.com GateHouse News Service Posted Mar 05, 2010 @ 06:19 PM Amesbury, Mass. —

The goal for the Amesbury High School boys and girls track program this season was to gain awareness in school.

Now, they’re competing on a national level.

The girls 4 by 400 relay squad of Cassie Harding, Rebecca Crochiere, Vanessa LeBlanc and Megan Cullen qualified for the Nike Indoor National Meet to be held at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Roxbury on the weekend of March 12-14.

Their performance at the All-State Meet last week at the same venue earned them the spot; they took second in their heat with a school record time of 4:14.34 to place 19th overall.

Hannah Zannini’s and Cullen’s time in the 400 this season has qualified them for the national meet, as well, which was the freshman portion of the event.

The relay team will compete in the All-New England section of 4 by 400.

“The girls ran their fastest times of the season against the best track and field athletes in the state of Massachusetts,” Amesbury coach Ernie Bissaillon said. “I could not be happier for them. Just to get to a meet of this level is quite an accomplishment, and is a testament to the hard work and dedication they have put into this sport this winter. It does not get any better than this in high school track and field, bringing the best track and field athletes together from around the country to compete against each other for a whole weekend. It will be an exciting meet for these girls to see and compete in.”

Also at the All-State Meet, Crochiere ran a school record time of 3:09.27 in the 1,000 to place 16th.

This week, the Amesbury News caught up with members of the record-setting, national-qualifying relay team.

REBECCA CROCHIERE

The All-State Meet went very well. I ran my best time in the 1,000 (3:09), and broke the school record. And I ended up placing 16th overall. It was great to be a part of the meet.

Running with the fastest girls in the state definitely helped me improve my time. Our relay team also broke the school record with a time of 4:14. This time, Cassie Harding, Vanessa Leblanc, Megan Cullen and me ran the relay.

Our relay team also qualified for the New England 4 by 400 to be run at the Nike Indoor Nationals on March 14. We are all pretty excited about that. Since I won’t be running the 1,000 prior to the relay at that meet, I’m hoping to improve my individual time. And the team as a whole is hoping to get a new PR and a new school record there.

CASSIE HARDING

Basically it was a great experience. I have never been to a big meet like that, where the girls and boys competing are significantly better than most of the regular athletes. I have to admit it was a little intimidating being grouped with teams who could run a four-minute 4 by 400 relay.

However, we worked to be there, were deserving and we were ready to try our best.

With that being said, we did end up doing our best, running our fastest time yet, a 4:14, and beating our previous school record. It was a great feeling, because that was our biggest goal when going into the meet, to get our best time.

Also, we beat Newburyport in the relay, which was a good feeling because it is always fun to beat them.

Another big accomplishment was that we ranked higher than we were seeded. We were seeded 24th, and we actually got 19th, which was pretty cool. It wasn’t about being in the top six for us; it was about getting our best time. It was also a great experience, because I got to see Becca, who is my teammate and my close friend, run her personal best in the 1,000. It was a lot of fun to cheer her on, and watch her run with such competent athletes from all over the state.

VANESSA LEBLANC

I was very proud, and excited to have qualified to compete at the MIAA All-State Meet in both the 600 and the 4 by 400 relay.

Even though we [my coaches and I] decided that I would only race in the 4 by 400 relay, I feel that this choice was the correct one for me. Our relay team has trained very hard, and has been successful that the rest of the team deserved my leg to be the best it could be.

We really work great together. All of the members of the team push each other during training, urge each other on in meets and seem to complement each other’s running styles.

The competition at the meet was incredible. It really is amazing how great all of our state’s top track athletes are, and just having the opportunity to compete against some of them at this level was eye-opening. I hope that this experience proves very valuable to me in the future.

MEGAN CULLEN

Being a freshman, I didn’t expect to go this far in competition. It was really exciting to be able to race at the Reggie Lewis track and to set school records. It was a great experience, and we are all looking forward to the Nike national meet, and to start our spring track season. Copyright 2010 Amesbury News. Some rights reserved