Sunday July 15, 2012

Marisa Sprague’s college choice became pretty clear to her by the time she jumped at the Western Mass. track and field meet.

She’d been to Westfield State many times for both soccer and track/field, and got very comfortable with her surroundings on and off the fields.

"It’s a home away from home," Sprague, the All-Eagle Girls Track and Field MVP, said. "It’s not too far from where I lived, but it’s far enough away to get a college experience."

It’s also the site of two of her biggest athletic accomplishments.

Sprague graduates from Wahconah Regional as a two-time sectional champion in the long jump, having successfully defended her title this spring. She stood out as both a jumper and a sprinter this spring, dominating the jumps.

Still, she didn’t expect to win a Western Mass. title again in 2012.

"The meet to me that stood out from all the others was Western Mass.," Sprague said. "That I came in first in long and second in triple made it that much better."

What’s even more impressive is that 2012 was Sprague’s first year of triple jumping.

"Continuing off last year, I knew she was going to have a good year," Wahconah coach Jeff Pike said. "Her first meet, when she came in first in the triple jump ... I had an inkling. When she qualified for Western Mass., I told her it wasn’t like last year.

"When she started jumping continuously over 17 feet in the long jump, that’s when I knew it was something special."

Nobody had a better long or triple jump in Berkshire County this spring, but that didn’t stop Sprague from being a little nervous at sectionals.

"I was trying to clear my head [in the long jump]," she said. "There was so much going on in my mind. I knew this was one of the last chances I had to get into the finals in a good spot."

One 17-81Ž4 leap later, she’d done just that. No one matched that preliminary jump.

Sprague also improved her previous personal best twice in the triple jump at Western Mass. She was the runner-up, but didn’t mind due to her improvement.

Sprague credits two coaches for pushing her this season -- and one wasn’t officially a coach. Pike got credit, but so did fellow Wahconah senior Cate Cherry.

"I don’t think I would have been able to do as well as I did this year or last year if she wasn’t there to teach me and coach me through it," Sprague said. "She was a teammate/coach from the very beginning. The entire time, the way she helped describe jumps and techniques I needed was pretty natural."

It doesn’t surprise Pike that Sprague is quick to share credit for her accomplishments.

"One of her biggest assets is her humility," he said. "Every meet, whether it was a Berkshire County meet or Western Mass., she’d always come up to me and say she was nervous. She never took anything for granted. She has that mindset that she’s going to work hard, do her best and that’s all she can do."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
msprague@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @EagleSportsZone.