By Kyle Lewis, Richard Furst, Joe Manaseri, & Kiersten Jacobsen
It was a historic week for the Goshen indoor track program, as the distance medley relay team of Liam Higgins, Ryan Pinto, Nicolas Paneto, and Louis Greco competed at the Eastern States Championship at the Armory last Tuesday. The ultimate goal was to run a time fast enough to qualify for New Balance Nationals. All four athletes have been training hard since mid-November, and the culmination of their efforts was evident in their brilliant performances.
The relay began with senior Liam Higgins running the 1200m leg. With 19 teams in one race, the starting line was crowded and Higgins ended up getting stuck in the back. Never one to back down, by 600m Higgins had worked his way up towards the front of the pack, putting himself and his team in an excellent position. Higgins’ time of 3:06.2 is one of the best high school 1200m splits in the country this season.
Next up, was junior Ryan Pinto running the 400m leg. Pinto went out hard, covering the first 200m in 25.8 seconds. Pinto held his own, running a personal best 54.04 to hand-off in 5th place.
The penultimate leg was covered by junior Nicolas Paneto, running 800m. Paneto has been nursing an injury, so it was unclear how his performance would be affected. Paneto went out hard, covering the first 200m in 29.5 seconds. He settled in, running well for the remaining 600m to finish in 2:01.78.
The final leg of 1600m was run by senior Louis Greco. Greco went out in 62.5 seconds for the first 400m, putting his team back in the lead pack. He settled in for the next 800m, running even splits. With 400m to go, Greco began to hit the proverbial wall, unable to maintain the fast pace. Greco still managed to finish the 1600m leg in 4:26.2, just one second off of his personal best.
Their total time was 10:28.54, setting a new Goshen High School indoor record and qualifying them to run at New Balance Nationals on Friday, March 9 at the 168th St. Armory.
Higgins, Greco, and girls’ 4x800m relay qualify for Indoor States
With the boys’ DMR qualifying for Nationals, race planning and strategy had changed for seniors Louis Greco and Liam Higgins at the State Qualifier meet. They no longer needed to run Nationals qualifying times in their individual events, which alleviated some of the pressure and stress. That’s not to say there was no pressure, as they still needed to finish in the top three in their respective events to make the State meet.
Greco had planned ahead with Cornwall’s Seth Bywater to set a fast pace and help each other to hit the National standard. Bywater and Greco were on pace, trading off on the lead every other lap, with Jaelin Edwards of Pine Bush right behind them. With 1000m to go, noticing that Edwards was still running with them, Greco decided to shift gears and help Edwards to maintain pace. Having already met the state standard earlier in the season, Greco displayed outstanding sportsmanship in the race, allowing Edwards to finish just ahead of him, which qualifies all three athletes for the State meet representing Section IX.
There was no room for planning ahead in the boys’ 1000m, as a highly competitive field of athletes vied for the top spots at the State Qualifier meet. Higgins got boxed in at the start, forced to run a slow 64.35 seconds for the first 400m. In the third lap, Higgins took the lead, sped up the pace, and didn’t look back, finishing his final 200m in 29.3 seconds. Higgins won the race in 2:36.69, 1½ seconds faster than the closest competitor.
The girls’ team posted many season best performances, but none had more of an impact than the 3200m relay team. With all girls scratching out of individual events, the team of Kayla Pucci, Madison Montgomery, Kayla Schramm and Grace Atlas committed to each other with the goal of making the state meet together and defending their Section IX title from 2017.
Pucci led off and set the table with an opening leg of 2:26.2. Montgomery took the baton, making up the 5m gap right away and then ran a perfect leg of 2:23.7 and handed off to Schramm with a commanding lead. Schramm went out hard and finished strong to split an impressive 2:20.2. Atlas anchored with a fine 2:22.4. The team time of 9:32.52 was 13 seconds faster than Monroe-Woodbury, earning the team a spot on the starting line at the NYSPHSAA State Championship held at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island on Saturday, March 3.