Bridle, Caprio, Tucker Take MVC Track Titles
Tewksbury High girls track team finishes third at the Merrimack Valley Conference championship meet.
Don't ask Tewksbury High track coach John Byrnes to single out his team's top performer at Saturday night's Merrimack Valley Conference track and field championship meet.
There were too many stars wearing Tewksbury uniforms to count.
Junior speedster Jess Bridle won two conference championships, senior thrower Andrea Caprio smashed the meet record in the javelin and senior All-American Leanne Tucker returned to form and successfully defended her 800-meter title as Tewksbury finished in third place with 108 points behind Andover (153) and Central Catholic (126).
"It was a very, very good meet for us," Byrnes said. "Usually in a big meet like this some things go your way and some things don't. But just about everything went our way this time."
Caprio, who had set a Tewksbury High school record less than two weeks ago with a 123-foot javelin toss against Dracut, destroyed her own school and the MVC meet record (125'7) by firing the javelin 130 feet, two inches.
"She really just crushed the meet record," Byrnes said of Caprio. "You know it's funny, that sometimes when a kid breaks a school record they've been chasing, they're a little bit more relaxed and they can go back to just throwing, and they put one way out of sight.
"That's what Andrea did tonight."
Caprio's record setter came on her first throw of the meet, and the WPI-bound senior was all smiles after she learned that she'd broken the meet record.
"I don't know," Caprio said. "It's kind of amazing. It was my first throw and (coach Peter ) Molloy was jumping up and down and yelling 'It's your best throw.' I thought he was just being dramatic because he always over estimates throws. But I guess he was right this time."
Bridle won an unprecedented two MVC championships in one day, thanks to a new rule that allows runners to compete in two individual running events this year. Bridle was the two-time defending champion in the 400-meter dash, and a member of last year's MVC champion 4x400-meter relay team.
On Saturday, Bridle not only successfully defended her 400-meter title, but she added a 100-meter dash championship to her list of accomplishments, as well.
Bridle won the 400 in 59.30 seconds and won the 100 in 12.74.
"It's pretty much unprecedented," said Byrnes. "There was a very small window (of time) for her to recover from the 400 and get ready for the 100. I'm amazed that she could do it. Without major changes in the schedule, I don't think this will happen again for a long time."
Tucker, who won the New England championship in the 800 last year and finished sixth in the nation, has kept a low profile in area track circles this spring while she recovered from a leg injury.
Tucker had competed in two meets in the last two weeks in preparation to return and defend her MVC 800 title, and clearly the preparation paid off. Tucker appeared to effortlessly breeze through the course in 2:20.56, finishing almost four seconds ahead of the second place contestant.
"She went out there and completely controlled the race as usual," Byrnes said of Tucker. "She went to the front, controlled the first lap and gradually applied pressure from there. She clearly had a lot left in her tank when she finished."
The Villanova-bound Tucker appears to be fully recovered from the leg injury that kept her sidelined for almost all of the winter season and the majority of the spring season.
"Running a 2:20 she'll probably be seeded fourth or fifth (at the Division 2 state meet) next weekend, but there was clearly more there," Byrnes said. "I'm sure with a full week of training she'll have a little bit more next week."
Junior field event specialist Lisetta Jacintho also had a standout day for Tewksbury, taking second place in two events. Jacintho threw 97'7" in the discus and came within a foot of winning that event. She also threw 35'1.75" in the shot put to take second there. Jacintho single-handedly scored 16 points for the Redmen.
"Typically, and athlete has to win her event to be named all-conference, but the league does hold open three at-large all-conference spots for situations to be voted on later," Byrnes said. "I think Lisetta's a perfect candidate for (one of) those."
Sophomore Devin Kelly also had a standout day in the pole vault pit, clearing 9'0" to take third place. It was Kelly's second time over nine feet for the season.
"Devin's really emerged as a force in the MVC in the pole vault," Byrnes said. "She's a kid to keep an eye on in the future."
Freshman Kelly Quigley and senior Lauren Andella also both scored in two events. Quigley took third in the 400-meter hurdles and seventh in the triple jump. Andella took sixth in the triple jump and seventh in the 100-meter hurdles.
Caprio wasn't the only Tewksbury thrower to score points in the javelin. Junior Rebecca Clark took second in that event with a toss 0f 108'2" and junior Courtney Spinelli took fifth at 103-even.
Junior speedster Sarah Hogan's fourth-place finish in the 100 was somewhat overshadowed by Bridle's win in that event. Hogan ran a 13.11 in the finals, and also ran a very strong leg on Tewksbury's 4x400 relay team.
Freshman Sara Semeza took fifth in the 400 behind Bridle, clocking 1:02.57. Senior Ashley Toland took eighth in the 400-meter hurdles, sophomore Jen Iannaci took eighth in the high jump and sophomore Arianna Smith took eighth in the 200. Freshman Aly Spencer qualified for the state meets with a personal best 7'6" in the pole vault, good for seventh place.
Tewksbury's 4x400 relay team of Tucker, Hogan, Toland and Semenza capped off the night by taking second place, losing to Andover by just 0.62 seconds.