The Salem News
---- — Something new has been added to the Northeastern Conference indoor track season. The NEC Relays will kick things off on December 8th at Swampscott, and Big Blue boys’ coach Joe Tenney couldn’t be happier to see this come to fruition.
“I’ve been trying to get this going for a few years,” said Tenney, who is starting his 12th year at Swampscott. “It’s a pre-season fun relay, and we’re asking for a one dollar donation for each relay a school enters just to help cover the costs.
“For a lot of kids that don’t get that shining start this will provide some great competition. Joe Abelon, who does all the scoring for the NEC and helped design the new track at Swampscott, was instrumental in getting this going along with Deems Hatch, the commissioner of league officials. These two guys worked very hard to make it happen.”
There will be two sessions, one for the small and the other for the large divisions in the NEC, beginning at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The format calls for eight relays, and a few have an A and B division.
“We’re going to have a lot of kids here, and exciting to host this event,” said Tenney. “It’s a work in progress, and will be a long day but well worth it.”
Coaches around the league support the idea, but some have reservations about the time it will take with the large number of athletes involved.
“I like the idea in certain ways because it gives kids a chance to get some competition before the regular season meets,” said Danvers boys’ coach John Norris. “It’s getting harder and harder to arrange scrimmages, and this takes the place of a scrimmage. My only worry is that with so many teams at the same place it could take four or five hours to get it done. If it’s well run and we can pull it off in two or three hours I’ll like it.
“That’s my only reservation. If it was at Reggie Lewis it would be easier. We have a big league with a lot of big teams like Peabody, Marblehead, and Swampscott. Kids get bored sitting around so hopefully we can prevent that.”
Danvers girls’ coach Sharyn Longo said she looks forward to seeing it and is keeping an open mind. She believes this is a good opportunity for younger kids to see the format before teams go to Boston for relays.
“I think this will be a good thing,” said Peabody girls’ coach Joe Rocha. “I like the concept, and it’s a great opportunity to get the kids back running indoors and get their feet wet. We have close to a hundred girls out this season so this is a chance for a lot of them to participate.”
Beverly girl’s coach Dave Jellerson is starting his 22nd season at the helm, and thinks this meet will be fun for everybody.
“The large schools are there for the morning session and small schools in the afternoon,” said Jellerson. “I think this is a great opportunity to get warmed up and try some people at different events. It’s going to be low key, and with some events having A and B teams there will be 13 events in all. We open the regular season two days later so this will get everybody in the right frame of mind.”
Kerri Zerfoss had an outstanding freshman soccer season for Pingree and although she has started practicing for the Highlanders basketball team, she’s not finished with soccer yet. Zerfoss, a Peabody resident, went to Boca Raton, Fla., last week with the Region 1 Olympic Development team for a tournament against other regions of the country.
“It was amazing; such a great experience,” said Zerfoss. “It was so hot the whole time we were there which was a nice change from the cold New England weather. The soccer was fantastic. We finished 1-1-1, but they were all very close games except our opener. We blew that team out, 4-1.”
When Zerfoss came back home she didn’t have much down time before she was on the pitch again playing with her Aztec U-15 team in a tournament that was held in Lexington and Marlborough. On Thursday she left for Raleigh, N.C., to compete in a college showcase with Aztec.
“Teams are coming to North Carolina from all over the country,” said Zerfoss. “This is our first college showcase outside Massachusetts which is exciting. We’ll play one game every day, and there will be lots of college scouts watching.”
Zerfoss will return home tomorrow, and get ready to help her Pingree hoop team. She uses her speed and ball handling skills at point guard.
“I love Pingree,” said Zerfoss. “It’s such an amazing, interesting place to go to school.”
North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie has a brand new hockey team this winter. The Bulldogs are teaming up with Mystic Valley Charter School in Malden to put a team on the ice.
“We’re really excited about this,” said North Shore AD Paul Worth. “It will be a co-op program. They had a team last year, but only had 14 kids. Their AD Marc Arria is a friend of mine, and I talked to him about combining programs to boost the numbers. That works for both of us because now they’ll have the numbers needs to compete, and we get a hockey program going.
“Right now we have seven kids playing. Four are from North Shore and three from Essex. They practice in Everett, the North End, and Charlestown.”