Jean DePlacido column: Arias already showing his track talents for UMass Amherst

Formerly a track and field standout at both Salem High (above) and at the Pingree School, Ricky Arias is now starring in college at UMass Amherst.DAVID LE/Staff file photo

Ricky Arias is off to a great start for the UMass Amherst track and field team. The Pingree School graduate from Salem runs the 200 and 400 meters for the Minutemen and is a member of their 4x100 relay team.

“I like the 200 best because it’s a quicker race than the 400 with a lot less strategy; just go out as fast as you can,” said Arias, an Economics major. “The 400 is one of the toughest races in track. I didn’t run indoors, which was coach’s decision, but I will next year.”

The relay team won on Senior Day at UMass in a very quick time of 41.52 seconds, the fourth-fastest mark in school history. Arias is the only freshman on the school’s ‘A’ relay foursome along with juniors Hayden Gray, Michael Cuthbert and Jordan Howard.

“We should be able to improve that time in the big meets ahead,” said Arias. “We’ll push ourselves to be quick in the (Atlantic 10) Conference meet that we’ll  host May 5-6 and the New Englands the following week.”

The Minutemen have a busy outdoor schedule with meets every weekend, which keeps Arias busy between practice, meets and academics.

“Running at Division 1 is a full-time job,” he said. “The day after the conference meet I have a final and another one the day before the New Englands. Everything is happening at once; you really have to budget your time.”

A Salem News All-Star in track and field, Arias was also the paper’s Player of the Year in basketball after averaging 19 points , six rebounds and four assists per game as a Pingree senior.

He holds several track records at Pingree, where he was the New England champ in both the 100 and 200 as a junior. An injury prevented him from competing in the New Englands as a senior.

“I really like UMass, although it did take a while to get used to such a big school,” he said. “Being on a team helped me adjust quicker than I would have if I wasn’t.

“I’m going to work as a camp counselor at the Salem Boys & Girls Club this summer, and I’ll meet up with some of my (UMass) teammates for workouts so that I’ll be ready for next year.”


James Burr is leaving his mark on Boston University lacrosse team. The Terriers beat Holy Cross on Senior Day last weekend (15-11) to clinch a playoff berth as Burr, a tam captain from Hamilton, had a big day with six goals and an assist.

The all-time leading scorer in school history has the most goals and total points on the squad. In February he became the leading goal scorer when he poured in six tallies, including his career 100th on the road at Ohio State.

Heading into the final regular season game at Navy this weekend, Burr has 46 goals and 14 assists for 60 points. He’s started every game at attack this season, and when college ends he’ll go on to play for the Boston Cannons.

On April 15th, Burr was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week after scoring five goals and four assists in an 18-11 victory over No. 2 ranked Loyola Maryland. He broke the Terriers’ all-time scoring record by notching his 171st point in that game.

Boston University is ranked No. 16 nationally by the Inside Lacrosse Media poll and 18th in the USILA Coaches poll. They earned a spot in the upcoming tournament for the third straight year.

Burr will attempt to keep his amazing 31-game scoring streak going right to the end of his outstanding career before taking his talents to the MLL.


Masconomet’s Patrick Mahoney was completely surprised to get an email from the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) this week informing him he was named Cross Country Coach of the Year for Massachusetts.

“I had no idea I had been nominated, never mind winning such an award,” said Mahoney, who is the reigning the Salem News Cross Country Coach of the Year. “I had to reread the email about five times before it started sinking in.

“Honestly, I don’t feel worthy of this award,” Mahoney added. “There are so many amazing coaches at Masco and across the Cape Ann League. This is truly a team award; there’s no way I could coach this team without (assistants) Dana Picillo and Al McCarthy helping me.”

Mahoney said that Picillo was his high school coach when he ran for the Chieftains, and he has been the most influential mentor in his life.

“He has taught me so much about coaching high school athletes and I am indebted to him,” Mahoney said. “Coach McCarthy (who is also the Masconomet girls lacrosse coach) has also been a huge asset to the team since he joined the staff.

“Last but not least, and more importantly, cross country is all about the runners. It takes a special young athlete to want to run 4-to-7 miles a day. Their dedication and commitment exceeds my expectations so frequently.

“Cross country is pretty much the only sport in which the actual game isn’t very much fun,” he added. “Running 5K’s hard is extremely painful and a battle of your own will vs. the aerobic pain you are enduring. Because of all this, the chemistry and camaraderie of a cross country team is the most important element to success. Runners have to be willing to run hundreds of miles not just for themselves, but for each other. I feel fortunate to have runners that embody these traits year after year; they’re the real winners of this award.”

St. John’s Prep veteran tennis coach Mark Metropolis and Danvers High volleyball’s George LeVasseur are also recipients of this prestigious MIAA award.


Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @JeanDePlacidoSN