Senior captain Alyssa Murphy, juniors Steph Forester and Emily Martin and sophomore Hannah Perkins won the 4×800 meter relay at the MSTCA Elite Meet, an invitational meet against the top 24 teams from all across Massachusetts, on Jan. 24. Beating the second place team from Beverly by seconds, the relay team set a new 4×800 meter relay record with a time of 9:35 and punched their ticket to the Emerging Elite section of the National New Balance Indoor Meet on March 10.
“[The race was] the last opportunity we had to run the relay without doubling back in our individual races,” said Alyssa Murphy, “so we were all feeling the pressure to qualify.”
Going into the last lap, Beverly had a 20-meter lead over Walpole’s anchor leg, Alyssa Murphy. Murphy was able to gain ground during the first 150 meters and with 50 meters left in the race, Walpole and Beverly were neck and neck heading down the straightaway.
“Honestly, starting the first lap I was only focused on qualifying, but once we hit the final straightaway and I saw how close the Beverly girl was, I knew I could beat her,” said Murphy.
Although Beverly dove at the finish line, the photo-finish revealed that Walpole finished in first place, a mere .07 seconds before Beverly.
Due to her closing speed to snag Walpole’s first place finish, the national website milesplit.com nominated Alyssa Murphy for the “Kick of the Week.” Milesplit, a track and cross country national coverage site, reports on high school, collegiate and professional racing. The “Kick of the Week” competition is determined by a user vote on their website.
Just like in her race, Murphy was again able to win by a narrow margin, beating her competition with a total of 727 votes. Murphy humbly accepted her victory.
“It’s nice to know I didn’t trip that girl at the finish line, because when I finished, I thought I made her fall and was worried we would get disqualified,” said Murphy.
The relay team went on to compete in the Division III championship on Feb. 11; however, with all four members doubling back from individual events, they finished second behind Concord-Carlisle with a time of 9:45.
Their second place advanced them to the All-State Meet on Feb. 20.
With sophomore Hannah Perkins unable to compete, the team called up freshman Caroline McGrath to replace her as the lead leg. The switch worked out, and the team ran a 9:36 to finish in fifth place, which will advance them onto the New England Track Invitational on Feb. 28. Martin ran her fastest leg of the season with a 2:23 split.
“One of our biggest strengths as a whole is that when we put our minds to something, we do it,” said Emily Martin. “We ran with a big sense of determination and it paid off.”
The team wants to improve their time at New England’s to qualify for the Championship National Heat, which has a standard of 9:32.
“As a team we want to keep improving time as much as we can and possibly qualify for Championship Nationals,” said Martin.