BANGOR, MAINE — A contingent of Mount Anthony athletes represented the Patriots at the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
Freshmen Ella Palisano and Emily Tibbetts, sophomore Alexa Sprague and junior Gianna Farry combined to run the 4×100 in 51.65 seconds, the second fastest time out of five Vermont schools competing. Essex finished eighth overall with its time of 49.63 seconds, which is awfully close to the Vermont state record of 49.30 seconds set by the South Burlington relay team in 2011.
MAU’s time placed them in 19th out of 28 teams Saturday. The youthful relay team gained valuable experience competing on the regional stage, and are drawing inspiration from the Hornets.
“We’re going to be so much better next year, we’re going to be just like them,” Tibbetts told the team Saturday, according to MAU coach Paul Redding.
That confidence has Redding excited for the future. Already clocking in around 51.5 seconds every race, MAU has room to grow with all four members set to return to the team next spring.
“They’re hungry,” Redding said. “They’re excited to run that time. The fact they’re consistently 51.5, 51.6 (seconds), that’s a huge thing and that’s a pretty fast time.”
The team also got a hand from an athlete who knows a thing or two about setting records. Andrew Ponessi, who broke the MAU record in the 200 meters last spring with his time of 22.41 seconds, gave some pointers to the relay team as they prepared for New Englands.
Now a member of the University of Vermont track and field team, Ponessi is fresh off setting a Catamounts’ program record in the 4×100 on May 13. He was one leg in the UVM relay that crossed the finish line in 41.37 seconds. That sort of experience brought valuable insight to the Patriots.
“It was great to have someone like him,” Redding said. “He was willing to come back and help work with the kids, and he was a great help.”
Palisano also competed in the high jump Saturday, clearing 5 feet and taking eighth overall. It was a busy day for the MAU freshman, who went directly from the relay to her individual event. She improved on her state championship mark of 4 feet, 9.25 inches, and is looking to carry that positive momentum into the New Balance Nationals this weekend in Philadelphia.
The MAU coaching staff has been able to devote more attention to Palisano at this point in the season, as she is the lone MAU representative heading to nationals. Redding said that undivided attention has allowed the coaching staff and Palisano to dive deeper into her form and fine-tune her technique.
“I watch film, she watches film – we try to work together and we’ve made some subtle changes in her approach,” Redding explained.
Palisano’s no stranger to the national stage. She shined at the indoor national championships in March, clearing 5 feet, 6 inches and taking eighth overall, finishing as the highest ranked freshman in the country. Now, she prepares to represent the Patriots once again against the best athletes in the country.
“I think her head’s in the right place,” Redding said. “She’s a very confident young lady.”