WESTFIELD -- There’s probably nothing more frightening for an athlete than being booted from your high school competition. It was that thought that brought Taconic senior Courtney Luscier to tears Saturday in Westfield.
The Braves sprinter watched her lane number sticker fly away shortly after she bolted from the blocks in the 100-meter dash final at the Central-Western Massachusetts Division I Track and Field championships.
"She finished the race, and I thought she got hurt because I saw her grab her thigh," Taconic coach Paul Phelps said by phone after the meet. "She was balling her eyes out when I first got up to her" because she thought she was disqualified.
The fact that she finished without the sticker meant nothing. Her second-place finish in 12.82 seconds and a trip to states meant everything.
"I was definitely excited because I went into [Saturday] tied for fourth and fifth," she said. "Getting second [headed] into the finals, and being able to maintain that through the final was just icing on the cake."
She said she tied the third-place finisher, but officials used the thousandths place to break the tie.
Luscier had checked with an official before running her preliminary heat to make sure she could roll up her shorts just as she had done all season. There was no problem, and her time had her seeded second for the final.
When she stepped to the starting line in the final, a new official said she couldn’t roll up the shorts.
With one problem solved, another surfaced. When she peeled the sticker off her shorts and slapped it on her thigh, it had lost a lot of its staying power. As she came out of the blocks, she tried to hold it on, but it was of no use.
"I thought if I lost it, I got disqualified," she said by phone afterward.
His coach’s first assumption of an injury wasn’t unfounded. Luscier had been resting a sore hamstring, hoping it would be good to go Saturday. As it turns out, it was.
She bettered her fifth-place seeding and was seeded second going into the finals, where she was able to hold on -- albeit it a little awkwardly, as her friends and family will attest -- for her second-place finish.
"The weather was beautiful, the track was nice and soft," she said. "There was really good competition."
On the boys side, Taconic’s Evan Kalinowsky set his season’s best mark in the javelin. His throw of 158 feet, 10 inches was about 9 feet farther than he was previously throwing, and it earned him a third-place finish and a trip to states.
"He threw awesome today," Phelps said. "It was his season PR, so it was kind of what we were hoping.
"His season goal was to go over 150. ... He threw a bomb in his last throw."
Phelps said Kalinowsky had been working on his approach throughout the week. He added Kalinowsky’s experience in cross country may have helped him when wearing spikes Saturday.
Why the big jump in distance?
"Definitely the approach [work] and the atmosphere," Phelps said. "He knew he was in position to go to states after the prelims.
"Credit to Evan, he’s a good kid. One thing that helps in a big meet like that is he didn’t put a lot of pressure on himself. He was just out here throwing, and he felt comfortable."
Teammate Dom Nda wasn’t able to enjoy the same level of success. He placed fifth in the 100 in a fast final heat. His results in the long jump weren’t available.
For Pittsfield, Aaron Weeks was the best performer, claiming sixth place in the javelin (147-3) with his third throw in the prelims. Teammate Aaron Coty was 13th in the 110 hurdles, and Evan Bossio was 24th in the 200.