After winning the Tri-County League indoor championship this winter, the St. John's Prep track and field team has turned its attention outdoors, ready to face the challenges presented by the always strong Catholic Conference.
"We're looking to continue our success from the indoor season," said head coach Zach Lankow. "We'd like to be as competitive as we possibly can be at every meet, particularly against BC High and Xaverian."
It's always a battle in the very competitive Catholic Conference, but the Eagles have several outstanding athletes as they hope to reach the top of the standings.
Elite distance runner Tristan Shelgren, who is not only one of the best on the North Shore and Massachusetts but also the nation, leads the pack.
Last spring, the University of North Carolina-bound Shelgren was one of only 15 athletes in the country accepted to compete in the Penn Relays high school mile, where he placed 10th. The Salem News Athlete of the Year in both cross country and indoor track was also invited to the Glenn Louches Championship 3200 meter race and placed 12th with the best time in Massachusetts (9:10.41).
He is surrounded by other outstanding seniors in defending league 400 champ Andrew Coutu, who had a personal best time of 51.18 seconds a year ago, as well as a 23.4 time in the 200. Teammate Ryan Piazza, a Division 1 qualifier in all his events, clocked in at 15.3 in the 110 high hurdles, 61.6 in the 400 hurdles and 20 feet 7 1/2 inches in the long jump. Piazza was unbeaten in dual meets in the 110 hurdles and second at the league championship.
Senior Collin Lomasney cleared 40 feet 4 inches in the triple jump, 20 feet 4 1/2 inches in the long jump, and high jumped 5 feet 9 inches. He was also on the state high jump relay team indoors along with fellow senior Andrew Dearborn and junior Sean Majeski.
Dearborn's personal best high jump is 6 feet 2 inches, as well as a time of 16.7 seconds in the 110 hurdles.
Jack Dwortz will provide strength in all distance events. His best 800 is 2:03, mile 4:31, and two mile 10:05.
"Shelgren and Dwortz are a fabulous 1-2 combo from 800 to the 2-mile," said Lankow. "We're strong in hurdles, jumps and distance.
"One area of concern is the throws. We have a lot of young guys working hard but not a lot of upperclassmen to lead the way, especially in the javelin. We lost our top three there, but coach (John) Klein always finds a few bodies for throws, so I'm not too worried."
In addition to a strong core of senior leaders, the Eagles have two outstanding juniors in Majeski and Jack Curtin. The versatile Majeski's best 110 hurdles time is 16.3 in addition to a top leap of 6 feet 2 inches in the high jump and 39 feet 10 inches in the triple jump. Curtin's best triple jump is 44 feet 4 inches, best long jump 20 feet 2 1/2 inches, and top 110 hurdles time of 17.3.
"We will rely heavily on our seniors Shelgren, Coutu, Piazza, Dearborn, Dwortz and Lomasney as well as juniors Majeski and Curtin," said Lankow. "We're a balanced program looking to excel across all events."