Mohawk Trail’s Emmett Johnson wins 800 meter title at MIAA Division 6 Track & Field Championships (PHOTOS)

By JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-25-2023 11:03 PM

WESTFIELD – A school record fell, a state title was won.

Day 1 of the MIAA Division 6 Track & Field Championships was certainly a success for the Franklin County contingent on Thursday at Westfield State University.

Mohawk Trail’s Emmett Johnson put it all together in the boys’ 800 meters, as the sophomore captured the state championship with a winning time of 1 minute, 56 seconds.

Seeded third in the event, Johnson set a new PR and led for almost the entire race. He held off a late charge from Bromfield’s Jack Stahl, who was second in 1:57.26.

“The last 150-meter stretch, I could see the shadows of the top two (seeded) runners so I knew I had to give it an extra little bit at the end,” said Johnson.

It’s been quite a rise for Johnson, who rode a successful cross country season into a huge step forward during the outdoor campaign.

“Honestly I’m not even sure what’s happened but it’s been awesome to have the success this spring,” he explained. “My time’s last year were nothing compared to this. I’ve just been training with more ferocity, higher intensity, and it’s been showing.”

While Johnson’s victory set the tone for the day on the track, it was Pioneer Valley Regional junior Hailey Ring who closed things out in impressive fashion. Competing in the final event of the day, Ring set a new school record in the triple jump, besting the old mark by seven full inches with a fifth-place leap of 34 feet, 8 inches.

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Ring broke the old school record (34-1) on her first leap of the day, then proceeded to best it three more times before slamming the door on the meet with a 34-8 jump on her sixth and final attempt.

“It’s crazy,” said Ring, whose previous PR was 33-10½, of setting the new school mark. “I’ve been waiting all year to break the record and wasn’t sure if it was going to happen this year. I’m just so happy to be able to do it, especially here.”

Ring missed most of the last few weeks of practice after suffering a heel injury in a meet at Mohawk Trail earlier this month. She said she only had a couple of practices to prepare for Thursday’s state meet.

Greenfield’s Lillia Kachelmeyer capped her standout throwing career with a sixth-place finish in the discus on Thursday. The senior’s top throw of 98 feet, 3 inches, put her on the podium to lead the way for the Green Wave.

“I definitely didn’t have my best but that’s OK,” Kachelmeyer said. “It’s definitely sad to finish my high school sports career, finishing basketball, field hockey and track now, but at the same time I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish.”

Frontier’s Caroline Crocker continued her podium spree at big meets on Thursday. The senior amassed 2,482 points in the girls’ pentathlon, good enough for a second-place finish behind only South Hadley’s Emma Sanford (3,130).

Crocker has several more opportunities to compete when Day 2 takes place back at Westfield State on Saturday. She’s the No. 1 seed in the 100-meter hurdles, where she’ll once again dual with Sanford, and is also seeded 10th in the long jump.

Frontier freshman Adrien Pazmandy cleared 10 feet even to tie for fourth place in the pole vault on Thursday, while Greenfield’s Jackson Caron was close behind in sixth place with a top clearance of 9-6.

“I'd hoped I get a little higher,” Pazmandy said. “But I'm gonna pole vault over the summer and in the winter as well. So I'm hoping next year to do a lot better.”

Frontier’s Evan Hedlund also found his way onto the podium, when the eighth grader crossed in a time of 10:06.1 to snag eighth in the 2-mile.

Pioneer’s Caroline Ring also showed well during Thursday’s Day 1, taking 10th in the discus, while Frontier’s Lilly Novak was 12th. Mahar’s Mitchell Krasco was 18th in the 400-meter hurdles and 19th in the triple jump. Athol’s Nicholas LeBlanc took 11th in the discus, and Greenfield’s Jon Breor wasn’t far behind in 17th. Mohawk Trail’s Chay Mojallali was 14th in the triple jump, Hailey Ring took 10th in the 200 and Frontier’s Erich Brown was 20th in the 400 hurdles.

Day 2 is set to kick off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday back at WSU.

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