A clean-shaven Mickey McCartney and the Monument Mountain track and field team headline a group of the best runners and jumpers in Berkshire County heading to the MIAA All-State Outdoor meet today at Bridgewater State.
The usually heavily-bearded McCartney agreed to shave his beard if his Spartans won the Central-Western Mass. Division II meet last week. They did, and now the team has its sights set on the state meet and possibly qualifying for the New England championships.
Distance runner Weyessa ‘Ace' McAlister and jumper Jason Laramee may be the Spartans with the best chances in earning the top-six finish required to advance.
McAlister's seed time has him ranked ninth, and Laramee is also seeded ninth in the high jump. McCartney said if the duo perform to their best, top-six finishes are possible.
"They're doing well," he said. "Jason has jumped 6-4 and we thought it was actually a 6-6 jump."
A 6-6 jump could place Laramee in the top five. For McAlister, McCartney said he could lower his time in the 2-mile by running against top competition.
"Ace is about 25 seconds behind the one, two and three guys, but Ace is better at following," he said. "We told him to run with those guys and do what you can, and because of that he has a chance."
Monument's athletes need a slight improvement on their times to qualify for New England, but Wahconah's Marcus Duncan is right on the cusp of a possible berth.
Duncan is seeded seventh in the 400. Wahconah coach James McMahon said Duncan, the Central-Western Mass. champ in the event, seems to be peaking at the right time.
"Marcus looks great. He's running better than I've ever seen him," McMahon said. "He hit all of his goals for the season and he still really hasn't been pushed. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with someone to chase."
One Warrior who won a sectional title won't be available at states. Miler Eric Klem will miss the meet with a stress fracture in his right foot, which flared up after his Central-Western Mass. victory.
Hoosac's Travis Ciempa [two-mile] and Monument's Connor Storti [long jump] can also place above their seeds with strong performances.
On the girls side, Hoosac Valley's Meg Rodowicz  and Taconic's Courtney Luscier  will need career-best times to medal. But with a strong week of preparation behind them, anything is possible.
"[Meg's] seeded in the bottom third, but if she runs her personal record, she can bump up to the top 12," Hoosac coach Greg Lucia said.
Lucia added that, with prom, senior trips and graduation over the last couple weeks, Rodowicz had to do some workouts independently. He believes a PR is possible from the senior.
Luscier's 20th seed would make a top-six finish a near-miracle, but Taconic coach Paul Phelps said Luscier's blown away seed times before.
"Her goal is the top 10, but seed times are seed times," he said. "She was seeded out of the top-four at Western/Central Mass., and she finished second. She's used to it."
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