Athol 4x200 embodies program

Athol Daily News
Friday, February 23, 2018

ATHOL — The Athol High School boys 4x200-meter relay team symbolizes the indoor track team.

The team started the season with 18-20 participants. While some have left, the team has maintained a core bunch that have stuck to the sport and seen the benefits. That core has developed such great chemistry that it started to produce results. The relay team embodies that core.

The team has switched runners in and out during any given meet depending on who coach Dave St. Jean feels can score points. But by season’s end, the core of Mason Barrieau, Gabe Roberts, Chase Michaud and James Laford settled in, breaking the school record with a time of 1 minute, 36.28 seconds. The record had lasted for 12 years before the quartet broke it by almost four seconds.

“I switch (runners) in and out during the season depending on what events they’re doing in the league meets,” said St. Jean. “There has been a person that has popped in and out. Earlier in the season, I don’t think Mason ran (the event) once because he was running a couple other events, but these four are the core and these five, including Dennis St. Jean, are also the core for the 4x400 relay.”

The core of Roberts, Michaud and St. Jean have ran the event together for four years. When the combo were freshmen and sophomores, they finished first in the 4x400 during a freshman-sophomore meet.

“I’m just happy I got to experience everything I have with this team,” said Michaud. “I trust them to do the best they can and I can only do the same for them.”

For Roberts, he likes the combination of the sport and his coach.

“I definitely like indoor a lot,” said Roberts. “I definitely love our coach. He’s a great coach for us. Outdoor is also fun too, so it’s kind of a toss-up between the two.”

Barrieau joined the relay team later in the year after pursuing the 600 and 55 hurdles. Barrieau is the only junior of the group, but fits in well regardless.

“They’re all seniors and I’m a junior, so they’re all in the same grade, they’re all friends,” said Barrieau. “I like these boys.”

Laford came to the sport only two years ago. He suffered a serious knee injury playing basketball, so Laford gravitated toward indoor track.

“This is a really good team,” said Laford. “I’m glad to be part of it, but I’m glad I switched to track because we’ve been so successful.”

They also possess chemistry hard to find on any sports team. They’re all friends on and off the track. They’re comfortable with one another and push each other to perform better. It led to five broken records across the entire team.

“I’ve always enjoyed indoor track,” said Michaud. “If I had to choose, indoor track would be my first pick. I really don’t want this season to end, but I know it’s going to.”

The season is not quite over just yet. The team will compete at the All-State meet held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston on Saturday. It gives the team, and Michaud, one last chance to continue the season. If they place in the top six at the All-State meet, they will move on to the New England meet, held the following week.

So just maybe, the season doesn’t have to end here.

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