Hayes and McCarthy Break High School Track Records

Gina Conti

Senior runner sprints to the finish.
Senior runner sprints to the finish.



Senior runner jumps over the hurdles in a race.
Senior runner jumps over the hurdles in a race.


The Walpole Track and Field team is lucky enough to experience two of the greatest sprinters the school, and Massachusetts, has ever seen.  The two prodigies, seniors PJ Hayes and Connor McCarthy have had the benifits of training together for 3 seasons with Walpole Alumni Kevin Butera.

During the 2012 Indoor season, Hayes shocked Massachusetts with his blazing 6.45 second 55m dash.  This time easily ranked Hayes number one in the state.   Following the Indoor season, Hayes continued to show progress; he found success in both the 100 and 200m dashes, crushing Vinnie Lee’s school records in the first few weeks of the season.  Hayes currently holds both records with a time of 10.73 in the 100m dash and 22.04 in the 200m dash.

Over the past summer, Hayes experienced a dreadful injury. This injury prevented him from physical activities, especially football and track. Hayes’ initial injury was a stress fracture in the area of his L-3 (third lumbar) vertebrae.  Hayes’ uncle, and Track and Field trainer, Rich Tolman, specifically worked with Hayes over the summer and fall season through football.

Tolman said, “The original injury, which kept PJ out for a majoity of the football season, healed up nicely but caused him to lose strength and stability in his hip. The doctor said he ended up with inflammation in his right sacroiliac joint.”

With an injury like that, one cannot jump into sports right away.  Coach Butera and Tolman have safely guided Hayes back to health. Coach Butera said, “The past few months he has been doing a lot of core work and strengthening muscle groups that were imbalanced.”

Hayes has taken many steps to recover smoothly and eliminate any activities that caused pain, and in his case the biggest one was football. He said, “Football has always been my favorite sport, so not being able to play was extremely tough for me.”

The next step was to get manual therapy to address things from a muscular standpoint. This can help to break up adhesions, remove restrictions, and reduce tension in whatever muscles the therapist identifies as being problem areas. While this was going on, he started up with a basic strength training program but still had to make sure there wasn’t any pain. So as long as it didn’t hurt, he could do it.”

On January 17, 2013 Hayes officially returned to compete in his first meet of the season against Wellesley. Hayes’ return was great for the team because it filled a void that the team had, and also allowed other athletes to concentrate on their own events instead of  worrying about trying to fill in the gaps.  His return benefited the younger athletes that will get to train with Hayes for the post season of the indoor and outdoor seasons.  Coach Butera said, “Being around one of the fastest athletes in the state can be a very beneficial environment for our other runners.”

The postseason for Hayes is all about getting back into the grind of racing and getting through races smoothly. “There are some good athletes out in Central and Western Mass that compete in Division 2 so nothing will come easy,” said Butera.

The latest race Hayes competed in was the MSTCA Coaches Elite Invitational on January 27.  Hayes blazed by the other runners in the prelims missing his PR by only .01 (6.46).  This time ranked Hayes to be seeded first for the finals, in grasp of the meet record.  Hayes unfortunatly scratched from competing in the finals due to the irritation in his back.  Because Hayes did not run in the finals, he must re-evaluate his strength and how many more meets  he will compete .

Connor McCarthy is Walpole’s finest field events competitor. McCarthy competes in the Long Jump, High Jump, 55m dash, and his specialty the 55m Hurdles. McCarthy continues to rewrite the record books year after year.

Along with Hayes, McCarthy competed in the Elite Invitational, but nobody had a more outstanding performance than he did.  McCarthy ran a 7.64 in the 55m Hurdles in the preliminary heat. Not only did he PR, but he also crushed his own school record set last year in February of 2012.  McCarthy then ran in the finals with a 7.66, earning his way to the top of the podium.

McCarthy takes a lot of pride in his hard work and dedication towards Track and Field, and it is certainly paying off.  McCarthy said, “I work very hard on my form and technique. Once you have your form down then everything falls into place.”

While Hayes was recovering, McCarthy was the major go-to runner to compete in the missing places.  Throughout the season so far, McCarthy has made huge strides since junior year. While filling in for Hayes, McCarthy ran a PR in the 55m dash with a time of 6.85.  Later, he jumped to a season best  in the Long Jump and a PR in the High Jump.  He jumped 20’ 6” in the Long Jump to place him first in the Bay State League.  In the High Jump, he cleared 5’ 8.00.  This jump seeds him sixth in the Bay State League.

McCarthy has many season goals as he approaches the postseason. “I would like to PR again and break my own school record of 7.64. I would also like to go back to compete at New England’s and do well.”

McCarthy’s elite performances have never been unnoticed by other Massachusetts athletes, coaches, and especially colleges.  McCarthy has recently signed with Northeastern.  He said, “It is a great close knit team. The coaches are very nice and personable.  They work with each athlete individually so that their team strengthens as a whole.” The Northeastern Huskies originally contacted McCarthy his junior year, after noticing his standout performances in the Divisional Meet,  All State Meet , and  New England Championship.

Although Hayes and McCarthy have many different strengths that separate their talents, there is no other way to say it exept for that they are best runners in Massachusetts. Coach Butera has had the experience to work with two of the greatest track athletes that stepped into the track and field world at Walpole High School.