(Written, shot and edited for Somerville Patch)
The Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury quietly rumbled all evening during Friday’s MIAA Division 1 track meet, but no one made more noise than Somerville High School’s Andre Rolim.
The sophomore Highander began his night by winning his second consecutive title in the 600-meter run, then anchored the 4×400 meter relay, which also won. These two victories were part of an overall strong showing by Somerville High School that saw several players set new personal bests or qualify for the state finals on Saturday.
Rolim appeared to hang back during the first of his three laps in the 600-meter run, letting other runners jockey for position. But after finishing the first lap, Rolim pulled ahead of the pack and never looked back, finishing the race in 1 minute, 22.05 seconds.
“He has such a great kick that it’s ok to let others take it out a bit,” boys’ head coach Dave Dickerson said.
In the 4×400 meter relay, Edward Chen “ran into some traffic” during the first two laps, according to Dickerson, and fell behind. The Highlanders had some ground to make up, but seniors Jermaine McCarty and John Thomas ran their fastest 400-meter splits ever to close the gap during the middle four laps. By the time Thomas cleanly handed the baton to Rolim, Somerville had basically pulled even with Acton-Boxboro.
“That’s all we ask, that he [Rolim] be close enough near the end,” Dickerson said. “If he’s close, he’s gonna win.” Rolim ran his fastest 400-meter run ever- 49.4 seconds- and the team finished in 3:26.23.
It was their best time ever, but a girls’ relay team ran the best race in Highlander history. The girls’ 4×800 meter relay team- senior captains Iaritza Menjivar, Tayla Plett and Sasha Garczynski, and junior Pristine Mei- set a new Somerville High School record with a time of 10:15.15, beating their old record by more than 5 seconds.
The girls’ 4×200 meter relay- sophomore Gelynne Berger, senior captain Ashley Murphy and juniors Michel’le Meranda and Nicole Genard- won their heat in convincing fashion, finishing in 1:48.48 and placing seventh overall. It was their best team performance.
Genard, hampered for the last two weeks by a heel injury, also placed second in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.33 seconds.
Genard, Rolim and the boys 4×400 meter relay all qualified for the state finals.
“She [Genard] should move on to the nationals, so getting her ready for that is also among our primary goals,” said girls’ head coach Charlie O’Rourke.
The top three in each event automatically qualify for the next round, then the next best 12 performances from all MIAA four divisions also advance. The girls’ 4×200 meter relay team qualified among these 12, as did senior Herby LaFortune, who finished fifth in the boys’ long jump with a personal best of 21-02, and freshman Taija Clark, who cleared 5-1 on the girls’ high jump, also a personal best.
Meranda set a new personal fastest time in the 300 meter with 42.78, but did not qualify.
Other Highlanders competing included senior Pedro Rolim, Andre’s brother, and junior Lyndon Kaba, who finished the 55-meter dash in 6.78 and 6.86, respectively, and Natalie Clark who finished the girls’ shot put with 27-03.
The Somerville High School boys’ squad finished the meet tied for sixth place with 24 points. The girls finished 15th with 13.