SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 1, 2014

Jean DePlacido column: Peabody 4x800 reaches 'Elite' milestone

Jean DePlacido
The Salem News

---- — Drew Fossa set a new meet record last Saturday at the State Coaches Meet (4:25.09), but the Peabody senior didn’t win the race. That honor went to Marblehead sophomore A. J. Ernst, who edged Fossa to also set a new record with a time of 4:20.94.

Fossa came back the next day at the MSCTA Elite Meet to anchor the Tanners winning 4x800 relay along with Alex Greco, Cody Picardy, and Ben Braz. Both Greco and Picardy scratched from their individual events on Saturday to be fresh for the relay. Fossa, who will run at UMass-Lowell next year, was very happy to help his relay team qualify for nationals which will be held in March at the Armory in New York.

“We needed 8:10 to qualify for the emerging elite event at nationals and finished in 8:08,” said Fossa. “I went last year (sixth in the two mile in 9:32), and it’s an awesome track with so much atmosphere. It’s great to be going again, especially since our relay team has been working really hard. We all breathed a sigh of relief knowing we’d made it.

“Now hopefully we can turn in a good enough performance at the Division 1 meet to qualify for All-States. That mile race the day before was crazy, and Ernst ran great. I knew I was coming back for the relay the next day, and I’d have to do a lot of work on the first two laps. I took over the lead and held it until the last lap when Ernst past me.”

Fossa is outstanding in both the mile and two mile. He prefers the two mile, but is willing to do whatever he can to help the team. The Tanners (6-0) are having another great season, capturing the NEC North championship earlier this week by beating Revere.

“Drew had a nice weekend with a personal best performance in the mile,” said Peabody coach Fernando Braz. “He took control of the race from the second lap and kept pushing the pace with very even splits. In the final 200 (Ernst) made a very strong move and won the race. Drew and Andrew gave the league a lot to be excited about with two of the top mile performances in the state this year.

“Then (Fossa)came back on Sunday to anchor the relay tam to a win, missing the meet record by less than two seconds. He had a three or four second deficit going into the final leg and turned in a 1:596 to edge out Amherst-Pelham and North Andover in the final 50 meters. Drew’s will and courage to force the pace in his mile race along with the ability to persevere on Sunday are the qualities coaches at the next level like about him.”

“I plan to run cross country, indoors and outdoors in college, and have been admitted to the business school,” said Fossa, who received a substantial partial scholarship. “I also looked at UConn, Stonybrook, UMass-Amherst, and Highpoint. I really liked the coach at Lowell (Gary Gardner); he’s an awesome guy.”

Braz credits the rapid development of the underclassmen with allowing the coaching staff the opportunity to showcase top athletes while still staying at the top of the NEC.

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Julia Woodworth Ford has been named to the US Olympic alpine ski team that will compete at Sochi. The women’s ski competition begins with the super combined event on February 10. Ford, who is the granddaughter of Richard (Woodie) and Anita Woodworth of Peabody, is one of nine women selected and one of four making their first Olympic appearance.

The team was chosen on the basis of the alpine World Cup tour results. Julia Mancuso, a two time Olympic silver medalist, heads up the women’s team while Bode Miller and Ted Ligety are the biggest names on the men’s team.

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Aztec Soccer is hosting the first annual Life Lessons Through The Game of Soccer speaker event on Saturday, February 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Larcom Theater, 13 Wallis St. in Beverly. Speakers will be former World Cup player Jimmy Conrad, executive director of Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association Mike Singleton, former US women’s soccer team’s Zola Solamente, Flagship Merchant Services founder Mike Gerstein, and Framingham State women’s head coach Tucker Reynolds.

Gerstein was a captain at Brandeis after playing for Hamilton-Wenham while Singleton played at St. John’s Prep and is from Beverly. The clinic will be especially helpful for college bound soccer players as speakers share their unique stories about different aspects of the sport.

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Jean DePlacido is a longtime correspondent for The Salem News. You can contact her at JMDeplacido@aol.com