Lakers at N.E. Finals: Great experience

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

LOOK OF A CHAMPION — Lake Region freshman Kate Hall was all smiles after winning state titles in the 55-meter dash and 200 meters. (Photo by Brea McDonald)

Kate Hall had the fastest 55-meters time posted by either a freshman or sophomore at the 25th Annual New England Interscholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships.

But, the 7.39 seconds wasn’t quick enough to land the Lake Region freshman into the finals at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Boston, Mass. Senior and defending champion Mollie Gribbin of South Burlington, Vt. won the event in 7.11 seconds. Gribbin improved upon her 2011 time of 7.18.

Kate placed 19th in the long jump with an effort of 15-feet, 11.25-inches. The winning jump was turned in by Janae Wilson, a senior at Windsor High School in Connecticut, at 18-feet, 7-inches.

Laker Jacqui Black was seeded 33rd in the mile, but finished 22nd in 6:17.36. Molly Keating of LaSalle, R.I. won the event in 4:54.57.

Laker Hannah Perkins set a school record in the 1,000 meters with a time of 3:15.40. The LR junior had a seed time of 3:18, but ran a faster pace to earn 24th. Sophomore Maddy Berkson of Classical, R.I. set the time to beat at 2:50.11.

“Competing at the meet (and watching it) was a great experience,” Lake Region Indoor Track Coach Mark Snow said. “An experience all of us will not forget.”

A remarkable debut

Kate Hall made a big splash in her first high school track season. The Laker freshman set several records and won three state titles.

She openly embraced the challenges before her, from start to finish.

“Going in (to the State Meet), I had always looked up to the seniors like Amanda Peterson and Sage Hennessy, and a few other girls. So, I was really anxious to go up against them and see how it would turn out. I was ready to run,” she said. “I was very nervous, knowing I was going to be running against older girls. My dad told me not to be nervous, but just go out there and ‘do what you normally do and you will have a great meet.’ I just said, ‘Alright, we’ll see.’”

The first test at the State Meet was the long jump.

“My first event, I was thinking I needed to get in one good jump to reach the finals, then get a really good jump to win it,” she said. “My first jump was behind the line. That was fine. 15-11. I was okay with that. I told myself I need to get my next mark right on and get a good jump. My next one was right on, 17-1.”

That effort proved to be golden — as in a state title.

Up next was the 55-meter dash — Kate’s favorite event.

“In the prelims, my dad said I could hold back some or go all out. I just wanted to go all out, which is what I always do,” she said. “I went all out, and 7.34 was my time. I was really happy with that — it was my PR (personal record) for the season.”

Again, the best mark of the day and a state title.

The final challenge was the 200 meters.

“Running against some big competition, I knew anyone could win. They all had great times. There was a lot of time to get ready in the blocks, which I wasn’t used to,” she said. “Waiting for them to say ‘set,’ I just kept breathing in and out to relax myself. I wanted to have some fun with it. All my nerves went away.”

Finally, Kate heard “set” and then a “bang.”

“I had a great start. I was ahead right from the beginning. I was waiting for someone to catch up with me,” she said. “When I crossed the finish line and got 7.27, I couldn’t believe it. It was my best time ever. I was so happy! My dad was yelling and screaming. My uncle gave me a hug. It was crazy.”

Of all three events, Kate was most nervous about the 200 meters.

“It was anybody’s race. I was seeded first by just a few hundredths of a second. It was going to be very close,” she said. “My plan was to just go all out. In the end, you want to be able to push really hard. I usually get tired at the end because I really don’t have great endurance, so I knew I had to push it early. On the last corner, I passed Amanda Peterson and another girl, but I figured they would be right on my tail and catch up. Fortunately, I was able to push hard at the end.”

What were her thoughts after crossing the finish line?

“I seriously won this? I had never been so tired. I thought I was going to faint. I was on the ground. My legs were cramping. It was totally worth it,” she said.

If she was an unknown at the start of the high school track season, competitors now know who Kate Hall is. The LR freshman plans to continue to work hard over the next few weeks in preparation for spring outdoor track.

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