(written, shot and edited for Somerville Patch)
Forget personal bests or school records. How about fastest time in the state? Somerville High School sophomore Andre Rolim won the 600-meter run at Saturday’s 26th Annual MIAA Indoor Track & Field All-State Championship at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, posting the fastest time in Massachusetts this year.
Rolim’s time of 1:21.29 was also the eighth-fastest time in the entire country. In the 600-meter run this season, Rolim went undefeated.
Through the first two laps, Rolim conserved his energy, staying with the front-runners while holding onto third place. But with 100 meters left in his final lap, Rolim put on a burst of speed and pulled away from the pack, winning by nearly a full second.
“Coach told me they were gonna go out fast,” Rolim said. “He told me ‘just follow them and see if you can give a kick in the end. If you can give the kick, you’ll be fine.’”
Rolim came back later in the day to anchor the boys’ 4×400 Meter Relay. The race began with senior Edward Chen, who shaved about a second off his time at last week’s MIAA meet but still finished his heat in third place. Senior Jermaine Carty closed the gap on second place Acton-Boxboro, and senior John Thomas overtook them down the final straightaway before handing off to anchor Rolim.
Given a lead, there was no chance anyone would catch Rolim for second place. But even the speedy Rolim could not catch the team from Mansfield High School, which won the relay by over four seconds, setting a new All-State Championship record with a time of 3:21.78. Mansfield won both the boys’ and girls’ all-around competition.
The Somerville High’s relay team posted a new fastest time at 3:25.81. Boys’ head coach Dave Dickerson credited Cheng’s faster heat with making the biggest difference in the overall standings.
Both Rolim and the relay team will likely compete in Friday’s New England Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center. This is not guaranteed, however, as Rolim and the relay team have already qualified for the New Balance Indoor Championship in New York in March, and Dickerson does not want to tire them out before the national competition.
Also qualifying for nationals in the “Emerging Elites” section was freshman Taija Clark, who set a new personal best with a high jump of 5’2.” After soaring over the bar at 5’0,” Clark cleared 5’2” on her third attempt, getting her body completely and cleanly over. The bar did not move at all.
Girls’ head coach Charlie O’Rourke said he was “very happily surprised” for Clark.
“That’s her best ever, two weeks in a row,” O’Rourke said. “Good for her.”
Also competing for the girls was junior Nicole Genard, who won her qualifying trial in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.42. But during the finals, Genard re-injured her right heel mid-race and finished in fourth place with a time of 8.65.
Unfortunately, the bad luck continued for Genard as anchor for the girls’ 4×200 meter relay. The first three runners- sophomore Gelynne Berger, senior Ashley Murphy and junior Michel’le Meranda– all ran strong laps, and Genard came around the final curve of her lap leading and looking strong. But in the final straightaway the baton fell out of Genard’s hands, causing a disqualification.
Although Genard qualified for the New England meet with her fourth-place finish in the hurdles, O’Rourke said she will not compete, having qualified for the national meet back in January.
“She’s had a black cloud over her the last month, between the injury and whatever happened with the baton,” O’Rourke said. “We’ll give her a little break, hopefully do better at the nationals.”
Also competing in the All-State Championship was senior Herby LaFortune in the boys’ long jump. LaFortune was called for a foul on all three of his jumps, but Dickerson said he thought two of them looked clean.
“I feel bad for him, cause he hasn’t been the seeded guy all along, but boy, he’s gotten better every week,” Dickerson said. “I think his jump this week was better than it was last week, but it didn’t count. I think he would have gotten a medal.”