For the first time in 18 years a girls’ track team other than O’Bryant won the Boston City League Track Championships. What’s even more remarkable about Latin Academy overthrowing the Tigers Tuesday at White Stadium is that they did it with major contributions from five middle school students.
Latin Academy coach Brian Leussler said he's never had so many middle schoolers perform so well in his 10 years coaching the school, which consists of students from sixth-through-12th grades.
“This is really phenomenal," he said after the Dragons scored 126 points compared to O'Bryant's 107. "There’s so many underclassmen that contributed so much.”
During the opening day Monday, eighth-grader Imani Pressley won the 100-meter dash in 13.10 seconds and seventh grader Catherine Van Even finished second in the 2-mile in 14:13.7.
On Tuesday, eighth grader Ashley Lewis won the 400 meters in 1:01.8 while her classmate, Leigha Mills, finished fourth in the 400 meters in 1:06.4. Finally, eighth grader Britney Firmin won the 800 meters in 2:31.8.
Pressley, Lewis, Mills, and Firmin also teamed up to win the 4x400-meter relay in 4:36.3. An all senior Latin Academy quartet (Barbara Okafor, Samanda Jean, Roxlind James, and Monique Cox) won the 4x100-meter relay in 54.5 seconds to sweep the relays for the Dragons Tuesday.
Cox also won the 400-meter hurdles (1:13) while James won the high jump (4-06).
“We’re lucky because we have a lot of upperclassmen who inspire and lead the underclassmen,” Leussler said.
Lewis said it also helps to have other middle schoolers on the team.
“We’re always there to support each other,” she said. “When we doubt ourselves before a race we always encourage each other and say we can do things even though we’re running against people a lot bigger than us.”
Pressley, who missed the qualifying mark for the state meet by .1 seconds, added, “This is my first year running track, so they help me out a lot.”
While Firmin missed the qualifying mark for the state meet by one second despite shattering her own personal record by 10 seconds, Lewis qualified for the state meet in the 400 for the second straight year.
“At states, I’m the only person of 130 people who is not in high school,” she said. “My goal is to try my best because I can’t do better than my best. I’ll try to do better the next year compared to the other years.”
Leussler wasn’t disappointed that Pressley and Firmin missed states so narrowly.
“They will have plenty of time to go to states,” he said. “They are only eighth graders.”
“If we can do this well in the eighth grade,” she said, “and keep working and training, we can do so much better in the future.”
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