, Salem, MA

May 24, 2013

Peabody's Cennami sprinting toward finish at states

By Matt Williams
Staff writer

---- — Imagine putting in hours of weight training and workouts over the course of a year, all for a mere 10 seconds.

That’s the reward waiting for competitors in the 100 meter dash at this weekend’s Eastern Mass. Outdoor Track Championships, scheduled to be held in Divisions 1 (at Andover) and 2 (at Notre Dame Hingham) tomorrow and in Divisions 3 (at Pembroke) and 4 (at North Reading) on Sunday.

Among the contenders in Division 1 is Peabody High senior Chris Cennami. The Division 1 indoor dash champion, Cennami won the Northeastern Conference 100 meter title last weekend and is looking forward to the chance to race some of the state’s best tomorrow afternoon.

“I feel pretty good, but I’m very superstitious so I’ll make sure I get focused and do all the same things I always do to prepare before a meet,” said Cennami, who is planning to run at UMass-Dartmouth next season.

Seeded fifth with a time of 10.99 seconds, Cennami’s best mark this season was a blazing fast 10.6 that he ran in a dual meet against Revere. That time broke an eight-year-old Peabody High record.

“What really lifted me that day was that it was the last home meet for me and the rest of the seniors,” Cennami said. “It was a very emotional day and my last chance to do it at home.”

Cennami also tied a 37-year-old indoor record in the 45-yard dash last winter, and he said he actually thinks he’s better in the longer race outdoors. That’s because even though he has an excellent start, there’s more time, relatively speaking, to make up lost distance over the entire 100 meter straightaway.

At 5-foot-7, Cennami might not have the long strides of some more traditional sprinters. But he’s explosive coming out of the blocks and has excellent balance, which allows him to find his stride almost immediately.

“I might have an easier time getting in and out of the blocks, and even with a bad start the 100 gives you time to recover,” he said. “You have to get out of the blocks, hit your acceleration and hold it. For me, it’s about knowing you’ve put in the time and you’ve built up the strength.”

Cennami won the NEC 100 title in 11.49 as a junior, then competed at Outdoor Nationals with a number of his Tanner teammates. He was inspired to work even harder in the summer, spending time lifting with assistant coach Steve Smyrnios.

“Chris’ work ethic and humility are the core reasons for his rise as a top sprinter in both the NEC and in the state,” Peabody head coach Fernando Braz said.

Coaches Pat Mayo and Dave Coleman helped the senior speedster with endurance workouts during the winter season, so that when the spring arrived he was ready for the 100.

“Being at Nationals shows you that if these kids can do it, anyone can. If you put in the work, that can be you someday,” Cennami said.

Coming back for his senior season, Cennami has taken better than a half-second off his 100 meter time from a year ago. That’s a hefty improvement in a race that doesn’t even last as long as the shot clock in basketball.

As for this weekend, Cennami will likely compete in the 4x100 relay with teammates Steve Villani, Christian Cedullo and Zach Gross. He’ll probably feel pretty good running on the track at Andover High, where he won the 100 meter title in the prestigious Andover Boosters meet two weeks ago.

“I’m just looking to go in and do my best, maybe set a personal record time,” said Cennami, who was sixth at All-States in the dash last winter. “Just having the chance to go there and compete will be fantastic.”

RUNNERS TO WATCH BOYS Division 1: Peabody: Chris Cennami (100), Drew Fossa (2-mile), Christian Cedullo (hurdles); St. John's Prep: Evan Dombrowski (shot put/discus), David Roy (shot put/discus). Division 2: Masconomet: Regan Charie (200), Austin Cashin (400), Tristan Cluster (hurdles), David Drigo (javelin); Salem: Ben Sattiewhite (high jump). Division 3: Marblehead: Josh Beloff (200/long jump) ; Swampscott: Declan McClung (400), Peter Hale (2-mile), Matt Mahoney (2-mile), Robert Seymour (shot put/discus), Aidan Brawley (javelin); Danvers: Drew Piazza (mile), Joe Manson (shot put/discus) Division 4: Ipswich: Nate Glaster (400), David Dick (pole vault); Hamilton-Wenham: Shawn Kotch (hurdles), Tyler Mulley (low hurdles); Bishop Fenwick: Pat Corcoran (shot put) GIRLS Division 1: Peabody: Heather MacLean (800), Catarina Rocha (mile, 2-mile), Pam Zabala (shot put/discus), 4x800 relay. Division 2: Salem: Joy Lima (100); Beverly: Caitlin Harty (400), Nicole Demars (2-mile), Kendel Davy (hurdles), 4x800 relay; Masconomet: Beth Defossez (pole vault). Division 3: Danvers: Lexy Bean (200), Xanthi Pantazelos (100), Catalina Dominick (2-mile), Ashley Brooks (high jump), Meghan Kellard (shot put); Marblehead: Janaya Randall (mile), 4x800 relay; Swampscott: Melinda Wilson (discus). Division 4: Ipswich: Michaela Hedderman (200), Sarah Keiran (mile/2-mile), Devin Smith (triple jump), Jill Calvani (long jump), Tina Keiran (2-mile), Katie Monahan (hurdles); Hamilton-Wenham: Meg Blatchford (800), Emily Weigand (2-mile), Leslie Bynum (discus), Kerry Hull (high jump), 4x800 relay; Bishop Fenwick: Sydney Packard (800), Rose Fantozzi (long jump), Maggie Lepley (discus/shot put).