Bridle Sets TMHS 300 Meter Record
Bridle takes first at MSTCA Coaches Invitational; Jacintho wins shot put gold.
In four years of running track at Tewksbury High School, Jess Bridle has assembled a list of accomplishments that would rival any other track star in TMHS history. She has scored more points in dual meets than any sprinter in recent memory, and has run a leg on three different school record-setting relay teams.
All that was missing was an individual school record for Bridle.
The Tewksbury High senior speedster put the exclamation point on her impressive running resume this past weekend, taking first place in the 300 meters at the Massachusetts State Track Coaches Association's Invitational Meet at the Reggie Lewis Track and Field Center in Boston.
Bridle blazed through the 300 in a school record time of 41.38 seconds, eclipsing the previous best mark of 41.62 set by 2008 graduate Nikki Cunha at this same location in February of 2008. Cunha now runs track for Division 1 Northeastern University.
"We've considered Jess, since last winter, to be one of the best sprinters Tewksbury High School has ever had," said TMHS girls track coach Peter Molloy. "It's just that all of her accomplishments have come on relays up until now. We knew she was one of the best sprinters we've ever had, she just never had the record to show for it.
"But now she's got the name in the record book to cement it."
Over 150 high school teams competed at Saturday's event, and for Bridle, beating some of the state's top talent was a huge thrill. But the moment in which she looked at the timer's clock and realized she had set the school record was one of the top highlights of her career.
"I knew it was a record right away," Bridle admitted. "I've had that number in my head since freshman year. I just looked at (coach John) Byrnes and Molloy and said 'Amen.'"
Bridle is one of only a handful of area high school runners to have ever won three consecutive Merrimack Valley Conference outdoor track championships, having won the MVC 400-meter title as a freshman, a sophomore, and a junior. She also won the MVC 100-meter title last spring.
Indoor track hasn't been quite as productive for Bridle as she has finished second in the 300 at the last two MVC meets, behind Andover's Eve Bishop. But with Bishop having graduated in 2011, Bridle is now the MVC's top dog in the 300. Her record-setting time on Saturday was the third best 300 clocking in the state this year, and the best in the MVC by almost two seconds.
With the MVC championship meet only two weeks away, Molloy considers Bridle to be the odds-on favorite to add another league championship to her lengthy resume.
"To be honest, she didn't even run a perfect race (on Saturday)," Molloy said. "She can run faster and she can run better. So that speaks volumes to what her potential is."
Bridle was not the only Tewksbury athlete to take the top spot on the podium Saturday, as senior shot putter Lisetta Jacintho took first place in her event with a personal best toss of 36-feet, four-inches.
Jacintho, who is 5-1 in dual meet competition so far this winter, served notice that she will be a factor at the Division 2 state meet in mid-February.
Jacintho has been on a tear over the last two weeks, recording her eight best career throws in that time. Molloy credits assistant coach Jim Burgoyne, who works with the throwers, with fine-tuning Jacintho's technique at just the right time.
"Jim made a couple adjustments to her technique and she's more aware of what she needs to do now," Molloy said. "She's been doing those things the last couple weeks and that's why she's been getting the results she's been getting."
Overall, the Tewksbury girls team turned in an outstanding performance at the Coaches Invitational. Junior middle distance runner Rebecca Davies qualified for the Division 2 state meet with a personal best time of 3:22.52 in the 1000 meters.
Sophomore hurdlers Kelly Quigley (9.72) and Ashley Callahan (10.41) both ran personal best times in the 55-meter hurdles. Sophomore Jenn Schultz ran a personal best 46.03 in the 300 while senior Sarah Hogan (7.81) and sophomore Erin Morrissey (8.03) both ran well in the 55-meter dash.
On the boys side of the ledger, sophomore Eddie Matovu took fourth place in the 55-meter hurdles with a personal best time of 8.02. Senior Cory Thomas ran a personal best 4:37.9 in the mile run, good for 14th place. Senior Brendan Blair broke five minutes for the first time in his career, running the mile in 4:55.52.