Girls and Boys Track & Field Remain Defending State Champs
June 11, 2020
Tribute to our Track & Field Seniors
Grace graduates as the most decorated female field athlete in Thetford Academy history. She is the outdoor school record holder in the 100m hurdles, long jump, triple jump, high jump, and decathlon. She holds indoor school records in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump. She also holds the Vermont D-3 state record in the high jump at 5’5” and the Vermont D-2 indoor high jump record at 5’4”. In 2018 and 2019, Grace was the best female high jumper in the state of Vermont across all divisions. It is a remarkable achievement given that she practiced high jump in a parking lot next to a school bus while her D-1 competitors had daily access to full-fledged high jump facilities. Grace captained the girls to their first-ever state championship in 2019. Her performance at the state meet was truly outstanding: she won the high jump, long jump, triple jump, and came in second in the 100 hurdles. During the meet, she set school records in long jump, triple jump, and the hurdles. This past winter, she helped lead the girls’ indoor team to a second place finish at the D-2 state meet, their best-ever finish. At the state meet, she won the high jump and qualified for the New England Championships. At indoor New Englands, she had the best jump (5’3”) of any girl from Vermont, Maine or New Hampshire. Grace will continue her athletic career next year at Quinnipiac University on a track and field scholarship.
As one of the mainstays of the girls hurdle squad, Elle Dixon was instrumental in leading the hurdlers in drills and helping to set up hurdle workouts, which is an extra challenge without a track with hurdle markings. Elle was a part of the two most successful girls track and field teams in TA history. In 2018, the girls secured their highest finish at the D-3 state meet by coming in second. The following year, they won their first-ever state championship by one point. Elle contributed crucial points to the team’s total by coming in third in the 300m hurdles. As a versatile and adventurous athlete, Elle braved the decathlon following her sophomore year, and after nine tiring events, Elle learned in the 1500 meters that she just might be suited to distance running. Sure enough, Elle ran cross-country her junior and senior years, serving as a captain her senior year. Elle has continued to bring her good cheer to the track team this spring during Mark’s Pichette’s online core workouts.
Morgan has participated in track and cross-country since middle school. Although she battled injuries that prevented her from running for several seasons, Morgan continued to be a part of the team and learned new events, including the shot put and weight throw. By the end of her high school career, she was back to running fast! She was part of the two fastest indoor 4×800 relay teams in school history. Along with Layla Hanissian ‘21, Abby Egner ‘23, and Madison Powers ‘22, Morgan set the school record at the D-2 indoor state meet this year. Her 4×400 team also secured a second place finish, earning crucial points for the girls’ team on their way to a runner-up finish, the best showing in school history. Morgan’s infectious energy and competitive spirit will be sorely missed.
Casey appears in no less than three spots on the TA record board: third for the 4x800m relay along with Layla Hanissian ‘21, Eloise Silver Van Meter ‘21, and Madison Powers ‘22; third for the high jump along with Grace Clement ’18 and Hazel Wood ’08; and second for the decathlon. Being both a runner and field-eventer, Casey bounced around to different practice sessions, and when figuring out with coaches which version of practice would make the most sense for her on a given day, she always sought out the hardest workouts available so she could get the most out of practice. She was highly coachable: not only willing to accept advice, but eager for it. And, of course, anyone who knows Casey knows she is a fierce competitor. That combined with her mind for strategy, allowed her to manage the demands of Dartmouth courses and Lightning Soccer all while making a significant contribution to TA Track & Field.
In what turned out to be Lily’s final high school track meet, she earned a blue ribbon at the 2018 Vermont State Championships for the 4×800 meter relay with teammates Layla Hanissian ‘21, Casey MacVeagh ‘20, and Eloise Silver Van Meter ‘21. Their time stands as the third best in school history. A strong overall athlete, Lily ran the sprints, hurdles, and middle distances; she high jumped and threw the discus. At practices, Lily would listen to the coaches announce the practice plan for the day detailing the agenda for sprinters, jumpers, hurdlers, throwers, and distance runners, and ask, “What should I do?” Possessing a keen athletic intelligence, Lily was able to learn multiple technical events in a short time—all while participating in Lightning club soccer. After being out of commission her junior year due to knee surgery, Lily seemed poised to return to track after winning the obstacle course race at Founders’ Day her senior year.
Emma was a dedicated four-year member of the TA throws squad. Through dedicated practice, she improved her personal record in the discus by more than 22 feet. Similarly, she worked to increase her personal best in the shotput by nearly 3 feet. Emma was a part of the two most successful girls outdoor track & field teams in TA history. The girls secured second place at the D-3 state meet in 2018, and in 2019 they won their first-ever state championship. Emma saved her best performance in shotput for what turned out to be her last high school track meet. She set a personal record in the shotput at the 2019 D-3 state meet. Emma’s sense of humor and care for her teammates enriched the team.
After trying distance running for the first time his sophomore spring, Tad will be remembered as one of TA’s best distance runners of all time. He holds the D-3 state record for the 4x800m relay along with Clifford Ransom ‘18, Dylan Thorburn ‘18, and Malcolm Silver-Van Meter ‘18—achieved in 2018 after Tad had been a distance runner for only two months. Perhaps Tad’s biggest moment was his 800 meter win at the D-3 Vermont State Championships in 2019 when Tad surprised the reigning champion by still being right on his heels with 200 meters to go. At that point, there was no stopping Tad. Not only did he win the race, with a time of 2:01.29, but he broke a school record that had stood for nineteen years! Tad earned 26 points for his team that day with the brutal lineup of the 1500m, 800m, followed closely by the 3000m, and immediately followed by the 4x400m relay—contributing mightily to the state championship crown the boys won that day. Tad followed his spectacular spring with his first-ever cross-country season, where he again made the history books. With a time of 17:15 at the Woods Trail Run, Tad secured the top position on TA’s all-time list of times run on the school’s home course, besting the previous mark by over 10 seconds. During the 2020 indoor track season, Tad helped lead the boys to their first-ever D-2 state championship. He holds indoor school records in the 600, 1000, 1500, and 4×800. Tad will continue his running career at Franklin Pierce, where he earned an athletic scholarship.
Nacio participated in track and field throughout his time at TA. Nacio specialized in the hurdles and the throws. Over his high school career, his performances steadily improved. His last high school meet turned out to be his best meet ever. At the 2019 D-3 state meet, he set personal records in the shotput and the 110m hurdles. His mark in the shotput was nearly 9 feet better than his first meet as a freshman. His hurdle performance at the state meet was good for fifth place, earning valuable team points that helped the boys secure their first state championship since 2012. In 2017 and 2018, he contributed to second place team finishes at the D-3 state meet.
Frank has been a member of the track and field team throughout his time at TA. He contributed to two outdoor second place team finishes (2017 and 2018) and one state championship (2019). Indoors, he helped the boys win their first-ever state championship in 2020. His 4×800 relay squad contributed valuable points towards the team total. Frank also teamed with Tyler Wojcik ‘20, Tobin Dunham ‘22, and Tad Darrah ‘20 to run the second fastest indoor 4×800 time in school history at the Dartmouth Relays this past winter. We’ll miss Frank’s good humor, care for teammates, and competitive fire next year.
Stephen was a member of the track & field team for four years. He was committed to getting stronger and faithfully lifted weights throughout the year. This helped him to improve his personal record for the shotput by nearly 7 feet over the course of his high school career. Similarly, his personal best in the weight throw increased by more than 8 feet. In outdoor track, Stephen was part of two Vermont D-3 runners-up teams (2017 & 2018) and one state championship team (2019). In indoor track, Stephen was a member of a D-2 runner-up team (2019) and a state championship team (2020).
Tyler found his love of distance running the summer preceding his senior year and proved to be well suited for the self-discipline needed to train over the summer. Tyler was all-in when it came to summer practices and fun runs, and by the time the season began, he was ready for high-intensity training. Given his dedication and positive spirit, he improved over 9 minutes from his first 5K fun run to the state meet four months later. During his first indoor track season, Tyler helped secure points in the 4×800 relay at the D-2 state meet, which contributed to TA’s first-ever indoor state championship. Tyler teamed with Tobin Dunham ‘22, Tad Darrah ‘20, and Frank Loveland ‘20, to run the second fastest indoor 4×800 time in school history at the Dartmouth Relays. Tyler missed out on what would have been his first and only outdoor season, but the cancellation did not stop him from training. Through the spring, he could be seen timing himself doing intervals on Thetford’s Route 113 or running around Lake Fairlee. Tyler plans on continuing his running career at the University of Southern Maine.
In winning the 55 meter hurdles at the Division 2 Vermont Indoor State Championships, Jason not only ran a personal record, but he advanced to the New England Championships. Jason showcased in this race what he had been working toward over a high school career marked by remarkable diligence and patience: the “3-step.” That is, Jason ran only three steps between each of the hurdles. Doing so takes courage and focus; hurdlers know that the rewards are great for 3-stepping but that the consequences of failing at a 3-step attempt can be scary enough to deter trying. In what turned out to be Jason’s final outdoor 110 meter high hurdle race, the D-3 state championships, Jason closed with a personal record of 17.76, capturing second place for TA, which he also nabbed later in the 300 meter hurdles. In both the 2019 outdoor state champions and the 2020 indoor ones, Jason contributed valuable points towards team victories—the first for the boys indoors. Not only did Jason earn varsity status every year for outdoor track and both years that indoor track was a varsity program, but he also earned varsity letters all four years in cross-country, a noteworthy achievement for someone who excels at shorter distances. Jason’s graduation will leave a big hole in the hurdle events for TA’s track and field team.