Competitive Winter Season Raises Expectations for Girls Outdoor Track


Girls Track Captains pose for a picture.

Kaitlin Carter

Girls Track Captains pose for a picture.
Girls Track Captains pose for a picture.

With a 3-4 season last year, Walpole Girls Track qualified 8 individuals and 1 relay to the Division II championships, and 2 individuals advanced to the All State Championships in June.  However, with the loss of several key seniors from last year — such as Maddy Shea, Megan Peterson, and Michelle Monahan — the Rebels will need both the returning athletes and the newcomers this year to step up to fill the missing spots.

The team will be led by the usual coaching staff of Coach Conor Cashman and Coach Kevin Butera, and Assistant Coach Barry Greener.  They will be joined by Walpole 2009 alumni Bobby Fitzgibbon as an Assistant Coach.  Fitzgibbon competed in High Jump throughout his collegiate career at Westfield State College, and he is also ranked 3rd in the Walpole High record books with a 6’1″ mark in high jump.  Considering High Jump has been a weak event for this team since the departure of Nicole Browne, the addition of Coach Fitzgibbon should help current high jumpers such as sophomore Tori Lynch improve.  The coaches also will be supported by four senior captains: Olivia O’Hara (sprints and jumps), Gina Conti (mid-distance), Kristen Coyne (distance) and Ana Orfanidis (throwing).

“Coming off of the most successful season we have had for Indoor Track in the last five years, I am excited to see how the team will compete this spring,” said Coach Cashman.  “Our goal will be to maintain our competitiveness from the Indoor season throughout both the Bay State Dual Meets but also at the Division II Championship Meet.”

This season, Walpole will compete in seven dual meets — five against Herget teams, two against Carey teams. Because Herget teams rotate which Carey teams they face every two years, they will not face Newton North or Weymouth this season.  Instead of facing Newton North and Weymouth, Walpole will be competing against Braintree and Framingham.  This change is both good and bad news for Walpole. It is good for Walpole’s overall team record (they now have a greater chance of potentially winning more meets), but the athlete’s individual personal records may suffer with the loss of tougher competition.

Centering around the talent of runners such as Coyne, senior Jackie Applin, juniors Allie Morris and Lucy Lynch, and sophomore Alyssa Murphy, the distance core should be reliable point-scorers throughout the spring.  Not only did they set the school record for the 4×800 in the winter season, but the majority of them are also coming off of their fastest track seasons in their careers.

For the middle distance runners, the 4×400 meter team consisting of Conti, junior Maureen Herlihy, junior Emma Hunt, and sophomore Tori Lynch broke the indoor school record in the 4x400m in the past winter season by a second. Lynch and Hunt will also be competing in the 400 meter hurdles. Coming off of last season, Lynch is only 0.2 seconds away from breaking the school record of 71.67 seconds.

Head Coach Conor Cashman said, “Since it is their natural event, I am excited to see how [Hunt and Lynch] do in the 400m hurdles, after doing so well in the 4×4 in indoors.”

As for Field events, O’Hara leads the jumpers while Orfanidis leads the throwers.  In the winter, O’Hara ranked 3rd in the Bay State League for Long Jump with a 16’2″ personal record.

“We still think Olivia can jump seventeen feet — she just needs to hit the board right,” said Coach Cashman.  “Between her Divisional triple Jump performance last year and her indoor success in Long, Olivia should be a significant contributor for us this spring.”

The Walpole throwers will be led by Orfanidis, who threw her personal record of 30’3.25 in Shot Put this winter. Orfanidis will be joined by junior Summer King who threw 32’7 in Shot Put and 98’8 in Javelin last spring.  Based on marks from last year, Summer is ranked third in Shot Put and fifth in Javelin in the Bay State Conference. Although returning point-scorers like senior Catherine Murphy and junior Caitlin Campbell add some depth, they will not offset the most noticeable weakness: Discus.  Without school record holder Michelle Monahan (who threw 100’6″ last year), the next best returner only threw 66’4.5.”  If Walpole is to be competitive in this event, either newcomers like sophomore Kaitlin Brown or other returners will need to contribute.

O’Hara will also lead both upperclassmen and underclassmen in races such as the 200 meters and the 100 meters. There are many returning sprinters — such as junior Katie Carter, junior Brianna Conley and freshman Devin McKinney — who will give the group a lot of experience. Following in O’Hara’s footsteps as both a jumper and a sprinter, sophomore Hiromi Kondo will add significant depth in both jumping and sprinting events.

With the combined efforts of the four captains, returning athletes, and newcomers — the team will compete against Braintree for the first time since 2009 on Wednesday, April 2.