Qualifying for the All-States meet during the indoor track season was a natural progression for Luis Nunez considering he practiced high jump at the Reggie Lewis Center three days a week. Qualifying for Monday’s outdoor All-States meet in high jump, however, was a much bigger feat for the Brighton senior considering he hardly ever practices high jump during the outdoor season.
“He really only gets to practice during meets at White Stadium,” said Brighton track coach Sara Voss Geiman, noting that during the outdoor season they usually practice at their school or at Madison Park’s track, which doesn’t have the high jump set up. “To get to [White Stadium] from Brighton is a trek. The fact that he does what he does with virtually no practice is a testament to what an amazing athlete he is.”
After finishing tied for third at the Eastern Mass Division 1 track meet at Durfee High School last weekend with a leap of 6-feet-2-inches, Nunez will be the No. 15 seed at the All-State meet on Saturday at Fitchburg State University.
“I’m really excited about it, I can’t wait for it to come,” Nunez said. “I really want to improve myself at get into the Top 5.”
Nunez has jumped as high as 6-4 during the indoor season and he said he probably would have a better shot at his goal of qualifying for the outdoor New England meet this weekend if he could practice more. But he also said that he doesn’t mind not being able to practice high jump in the spring because he doesn’t have to worry about over-thinking his jumps.
“For me I have the muscle memory and things like that so it comes naturally,” he said. “That’s kind of one of the things, when I think about it I kind of get nervous, I try to do all types of stuff. When I’m not really thinking about it I jump and do better than when I actually think about it.
“[But] training and everything, I would definitely be better, there’s no doubt about it.”
Nunez has a 4.1 GPA and said he wants to try to walk on to the track team at UMass Amherst in the fall. He said it's not frustrating that he can’t practice high jump in the spring because it allows him to focus on his other events, including the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the long jump and the 4x100-meter relay.
“I want to be able to do different events,” he said.
Nunez’s teammate, senior Laquasia Anderson, will also run at the All-State meet as the No. 11 seed in the 200-meter dash. Anderson was seeded No. 1 in the 200-meter in the Division 1 meet last weekend before finishing second with a time of 26.13 seconds. She also helped Brighton’s 4x100-meter relay team finish 12th with a time of 52.18 seconds.
“There is a part of me that knows she competed well but saved a little bit of herself for the 4x100 so I’m excited to see what she can do with only one race to focus on,” Voss Geiman said.
Anderson had ankle surgery last year after seriously injuring herself during a basketball game.
“I was surprised myself,” she said of how fast she recovered from surgery. “But over the summer last year I played basketball and ran a lot on the weekend and my basketball coach had me running a lot. I just kept running, pushing myself and when I came to track I pushed myself even harder and that was the outcome.”
Anderson, who will try to walk on to the track team at UMass Dartmouth in the fall, will be making her first All-States appearance this weekend.
“I just want to push myself, I’m not worried about being No. 1 and winning, I just want to push myself so I finish,” she said. “One of the things I’m going to take away from track is [my coach] helped me believe in myself because at one point I didn’t and that’s something I’m going to take with me to college and after that.”
The only other athlete from a Boston public school that will be competing in this year’s All-State meet is O’Bryant’s state champion hurler, senior Adrienne Thornton, who won the discus at the Eastern Mass Division 3 meet with a toss of 132-09. She finished third in the shot put with a toss of 38-08.5.
At All-States, Thornton will be seeded No. 1 in discus and No. 3 in shot put behind Mahar Regional’s Sabrina Silva and Wakefield’s Elizabeth Bray.
Thornton’s coach Jose Ortega said their goal is to win both.
“It’s not going to be easy but hopefully she can pull it off,” he said. “She just has to relax and allow her talent and technique to take over. She has it in her to perform well she just has to relax and let it flow and go.”
Ortega, who has won 18 outdoor city championships and 16 indoor city championships at O’Bryant, said that only sending three athletes from Boston public schools to All-States is a “typical” year. Ortega said more city athletes could qualify if more city schools were in lower divisions, where the qualifying standards for the division meets are lower as well.
“That would give us more athletes to qualify for states and a chance to move on to All-States rather than be in their respective divisions and work twice as hard to get to All-States,” he said. “If you want the programs to be more successful you should look into all the teams in Boston being put in one division and more kids would qualify and advance to All-States.”
Ortega lobbied Boston Schools’ Athletic Director Ken Still a few years ago to petition the MIAA with proposal to move the city track teams into Division 4.
“He said present your proposal and to give him data, that’s the hard part is going through and finding all the data to prove our point,” Ortega said. “Without data he cannot present it to the MIAA, which is a legitimate reason.”
Schools are put into division by the size of their student body.
“That’s the problem, our school may be a bit big, but if you look at all the kids coming out for track and field it doesn’t make sense,” Ortega said. “So what if we have 2,200 students, you only get 10 of those 2,200 who come out for track.”
Voss Geiman said she was bummed more athletes from Boston schools didn’t qualify for All-States.
“I was kind of sad because there is such a great camaraderie between the coaches in track and field and actually once we get done with the city meet all the BPS kids feel like we are on the same team,” she said. “It’s too bad there weren’t more people that could go and represent Boston.”
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