Gearing up for All-States

  • THE TEAM — Pictured are the Athol High School students who will attend the All-State indoor track meet on Saturday in Boston. Pictured are, from left to right: Gabe Roberts, Chase Michaud, James Laford, Mason Barrieau, Kris Selanis and coach Dave St. Jean. Athol Daily News/Adam Lewis

  • PRACTICE BEFORE THE MEET — Athol’s Kris Selanis practices before Saturday’s All-State meet where he will compete in the shot put. Selanis prepares his throw before launching the shot put. Athol Daily News/Adam Lewis

Athol Daily News
Thursday, February 22, 2018

ATHOL — A combination of chemistry, athleticism and hard work has led two individuals and the 4x200-meter relay from the Athol High School indoor track team to the All-State indoor track meet, set to take place on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.

It’s the most coach Dave St. Jean has sent in his seven years at the helm.

“It’s certainly a testament to how hard they have worked,” said St. Jean. “Most of the season, I had 18-20 boys depending on who was quitting on any particular week, but this group right here, they’ve been the point getters all year.”

Mason Barrieau will participate in the 600-meter run. Kris Selanis will compete in the shot put, while Barrieau, James Laford, Chase Michaud and Gabe Roberts will compete as a relay team in the 4x200. Dennis (DJ) St. Jean will be the relay team’s alternate.

“There’s a lot of great athletes (at the meet),” said Laford. “So seeing what you’re going up against makes you want to work harder and do better.”

The top three from each of the Divisional meets qualify for the state meet. The next nine best times or distances then qualify. Seeds are based on time or distance. Barrieau will compete out of the 22nd seed, while Selanis will compete out of the fourth seed. The 4x200 relay team will compete out of the 24th seed.

“It’s a lot of fun there,” said Barrieau about the meet. “The competition there is insane.”

Barrieau competed at the all-state meet last season in the 600. Selanis just missed qualifying last year, finishing fourth when he needed to finish in the top three at the Divisional meet. Laford, Michaud and Roberts qualified for the All-State meet for the first time as well.

“I think it’s great. I haven’t had it before,” said St. Jean. “Even in the past, I’ve taken kids individually, but usually it’s been one or two people. A couple years I’ve had a couple girl shot putters do OK, female sprinters that have done OK, but to be able to take that many competitors to the divisional meet ... it was a nice spot in my career to have that happen.”

The team has practiced every day this week even though the school is on February vacation. Leading up to the meet, the individuals have met at the high school every day at 9 a.m., a reward for every 6 a.m. practice throughout the season, and will continue to do so right up until the meet. They begin practice with some stretches and then brake off into groups of throwers and runners.

“All their friends are still sleeping, or playing Fortnite, or whatever they’re doing, so getting here every day during vacation, just to go back to Boston to a place — they’re all getting sick of Reggie Lewis as I am — but it takes some hard work,” said St. Jean. “At this point, as long as they keep their fitness up this week and not going home and eating junk food, they’ll take the same fitness into Saturday as they have all year.”

Selanis will continue to perfect his throw in hopes of finishing among the top six and throw 54 feet. He’s consistently thrown between 52 and 54 feet this season, beating a personal best from last season by over 6 feet.

“I’m hoping to finish top six and go to New Englands and hopefully throw 54-ish,” said Selanis. “I’m hoping to get there again.”

Selanis threw a personal best 54 feet 10 inches during the season. The New England meet will take place a week after All-States and the top six in each event at states advance.

The relay team will work on the exchange process, trying to find a way to shave off another second to second and a half.

The 4x200 team recently broke a school record, running the event with its best time of 1:36.28. St. Jean believes the team can finish within the top 10 if they get just a second faster.

“It’s going to be difficult, but I know that we’re going to work as hard as we can and we are going to get the best time that we can,” said Michaud. “If it’s a (personal record) or close to our best, that’s all I can hope for.”

Team chemistry has played a large role in the success of the team this season, which finished 12-1, 6-0 in league competition. The kids are friends outside and inside of the sport, which brings the best out of each athlete.

“I didn’t have any kids, where all teams are going to have that ego maniac or that kid that needs more attention, or may not fit in chemistry-wise,” said St. Jean. “This year, both boys and girls teams fit in great. It was a nice experience this year.”

For now, every athlete is enjoying the ability to train and compete at the meet.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Roberts. “It’s my first time going out to All-States. I wasn’t expecting it. I’m just happy to be on a great team.”

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