For the star-studded cast of seniors on the Mansfield High boys track team, winning state championships has become a way of life over the past three years.
So when the MIAA Division 2 Indoor Track championship meet came down to the final relay race Thursday evening at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, it came as no surprise to coach Julie Collins that her seniors came through in the clutch and won another state title.
"Our seniors did a great job. The kids we were really counting on to score points came through when we needed them," Collins said after her 4x400-meter relay team took first place to hold off second-place Marshfield and secure the Hornets' third consecutive Division 2 indoor track state title.
Nick King, Griffin Robertson, Kevin Giffels and Andrew Kuras, all seniors, combined to capture the 4x400 crown in 3:29.35, beating second place Reading by over a full second, and more important, finishing three spots ahead of fourth-place Marshfield.
Marshfield had come into the final event trailing Mansfield by just one point, and had the Hornets finished even a single spot behind the Rams, they could have been looking at a second place finish.
"The pressure was on. They were seeded first and they came through," Collins said of her 4x400 crew. "It was pretty hairy with a couple stumbles in the first leg, but they pulled through. I have a lot of confidence in those four."
Actually, Collins has a lot of confidence in her entire senior class, as eight different Hornets seniors made their final Division 2 indoor championship meet a memorable one, and none more so than talented distance runner Josh Lampron.
Coming off a foot injury that has hampered him for much of the indoor season, Lampron took second place in the 1000-meter run, finishing in 1:23.90, good for eight points. Lampron also ran a critical leg on the Hornets' 4x800-meter relay team, which took second place and grabbed another eight points.
"Josh did a great job, especially considering how little he's run this winter," Collins said. "He got the baton in sixth place in that 4x800 and moved us up to second place."
Seniors Kham Haleudeth and Brendan McCarthy, and junior Andrew Chotkowski combined with Lampron on the 4x800-meter relay team.
King, the Hornet senior captain, took fourth place in the 300-meter dash, good for five points. King clocked 36.63 in that event.
Robertson took third in the 600-meter run in 1:23.90, good for six team points, and senior Brian Ferrreira took fifth in the 55-meter high hurdles, grabbing four team points.
"It's been a great four year run for those guys," Collins said. "They just did what they were suppposed to do."
Junior Dan Caughey was the only underclassman to score points in individual event for the Hornets, grabbing sixth place in the two-mile run in 9:50.3, good for three team points.
Mansfield finished with 44 total team points, while Marshfield was second with 38, King Phillip third with 37 and Catholic Memorial fourth with 33.
Mansfield will be back at the Reggie Lewis Center next Sunday to defend its 2011 MIAA All-State Championship.
MANSFIELD GIRLS FINISH FOURTH
Senior hurdler Jen Esposito successfully defended her 2011 55-meter high hurdle title with a convincing victory in the high hurdles to lead the Mansfield High girls track team to a fourth-place finish at the Division 2 state meet.
Esposito easily out-distanced the rest of the field, clocking an 8.20, just .07 off her personal best. Esposito also ran a leg on the Hornets' 4x400-meter relay team, which finished third.
The Mansfield hurdling crew proved it was the class of the meet, taking three of the top six spots in the 55-meter hurdle finals. Senior Dana Foley finished fifth in 8.92 seconds while sophomore Kelsey Ferreira took sixth in 8.95. The Hornets scored 17 of their 30 team points in the hurdles.
Freshman Abby Broyles sophomore Maddie Oldow and junior Julia Jones ran the other legs on the 4x400 team that finished in 4:04.43.
Senior Briana Chiusano had an outstanding meet, taking eighth in the 55-meter dash in 7.72 and eighth in the long jump at 16-feet, 7.5-inches.
Sophomore Sami Carey took fourth in the two-mile run in 11:55.02, good for five points.
North Attleboro won the state title with 40 points, followed by Concord-Carlisle with 235, Notre Dame Academy of Hingham with 33 and Mansfield with 30.