FALL RIVER — Lawrence's Brandon Perez was expecting to spend this holiday weekend at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., on his senior class trip.
But, when he was called upon to take over a spot on the Lancers' 4x100 relay vacated by an absent teammate, Perez had no doubt where he truly wanted to be.
"The trip would have been great," he said. "But this (medal) means a lot more to me than any trip would have."
Perez kicked off the 4x100 with a stellar opening leg, and Robert Garcia finished the job with an outstanding anchor, out-leaning the Peabody anchor at the finish line to give the Lawrence 4x100 victory in 43.40 — .06 better than second place — at the Eastern Mass. Division 1 meet yesterday at Durfee High School.
"Robert is at his best at the end of the race," said second leg Kelvin Severino, who also took third in the 100. "We knew it was going to be close, but we didn't know it was going to be that close. Robert was great."
In fact, three of the members of the Lawrence relay — Perez, Garcia and Mario Encarnacion — were eligible for the School of Math, Science and Technology's class trip. Garcia and Encarnacion quickly declined, but the relay's original first leg elected to go.
So, the call was made to Perez.
"I was planning to go on the trip," said Perez, who had last run with the 4x100 last season. "But as soon as I heard they needed me I knew I had to ask for my money back and do this for the team.
"All week I worked harder than I ever have to do this. I was so nervous in the starting blocks, but as soon as they said, 'Set,' I was ready to run as fast as I could."
Perez then handed off to Severino, who handed to Encarnacion who passed the baton to Garcia for the final leg.
"I got the baton in fourth," said Garcia. "I just kept telling myself, 'Finish strong, finish strong.' I felt like I was in third, then I just leaned and threw my chest out as far as I could."
From Encarnacion's viewpoint on the track, he had no idea how his friend had finished.
"I just saw everyone throw their heads in," said Encarnacion. "But I never have to worry about Robert. His speed is incredible and I trust him to finish."
Finish Garcia did, overtaking the field by just leaning his head and chest in time to take first in the 43.40, edging Peabody (43.46) and Brockton (43.51).
"I saw Robert's chest out and I just said 'Please!'" said Perez. "I have been preparing for this moment all year it was amazing."
Despite the weather growing cooler as the meet wore on, opening events were run under a hot sun. But that far from derailed Methuen's Mike O'Donnell, who finished second in the mile in 4:18.73, just off the pace of winner Ben Groleau of Framingham (4:18.00).
"I was pretty happy especially considering the heat," said O'Donnell, a junior. "The black (color of the) track makes it even worse, and it makes you shorten your warmups. But I saved a little and had more than I expected at the end."
The time marked the best run in the area this season, and just off his personal best run last season.
"It was a great race," said Methuen coach Roger Fuller. "We expect a lot out of Michael. This was the first fast mile he has run since the indoor season. He had been running good 800 and 2-miles."
Zavrl keeps improving
With his bright pink javelin in hand, Andover football star Mark Zavrl finished an impressive third in the javelin with a 169-11, close behind winner Pat McHale of Lowell (173-00).
Not bad for a junior who had never thrown a javelin prior to this season.
"All my friends were throwing and I thought throwing the javelin looked pretty fun," said Zavrl. "I like how it goes so far and how it looks when you throw it. You feel like you are spearing something."
Boys Division 1 State Meet
Top 10 team scores plus locals (32 teams scored): 1. Newton North 64, 2. Acton-Boxboro 55, 3. Lincoln-Sudbury 45, 4. Weymouth 41, 5. Peabody 36.25; Also: 11. Lawrence 23, 14. Methuen 22, 15. Andover 21.5, 16. Haverhill 21
Winners and area placers: 110 hurdles: 1. Zach Grube (Peab) 14.93, 4. Pat Garvey (Hav) 15.51, 6. Frank Borseti (And) 15.82; 100 meters: 1. Kevin Brizard (Brock) 10.99, 3. Kelvin Severino (Law) 11.17, 4. Alex Mayhew (Hav) 11.21; Mile: 1. Ben Groleau (Fram) 4:18.00, 2. Mike O'Donnell (Meth) 4:18.73, 5. Ryan Cooney (And) 4:23.97, 8. Vargas (Law) 4:28.76; 4x100 relay: 1. Lawrence (Brandon Perez, Mario Encarnacion, Kelvin Severino, Robert Garcia) 43.40, 7. Haverhill (Ronsard Masamba, Garvey, Philip Sasso-Flannagan, Mehew) 44.07; 400: 1. Nathan Pierre-Louis (Walth) 48.56, 5. Robert Garcia (Law) 50.48; 400 hurdles: 1. Mike Mulcahy (Wey) 54.78; 200: 1. Anderson Koenig (L-S) 22.27; 2-mile: 1. Nathaniel Adams (Lex) 9:26.96, 5. Lucas Parsons (Meth) 9:40.99; 800: 1. Andre Rolin (Som) 11:55.95, 5. Mike McNaughton (Hav) 1:57.43, 7. Bryan Vargas (Law) 2:00.00; 4x400 relay: Lincoln-Sudbury 3:27.11; 4x800: 1. Newton North 8:02.56, 3. Andover (Pat O'Sullivan, Will Klein, Mike Maldari, Ryan Cooney) 8:06.17
Pole vault: 1. Brendan Sullivan (WA) 14-6, 6. Joe Vetere (And) 11-0; Shot put: 1. Swardick Mayanja (NN) 56-2; Discus: 1. Mayania (NN) 147-8, 4. Sam Weeks (Meth) 132-6; Javelin: 1. Pat McHale (Low) 173-00, 3, Mark Zavrl (And) 169-11; Long jump: 1. Khary Bailey-Smith (Wey) 22-0 1/2; Triple jump: 1. Dana Pagliuca (Xav) 46-4; High jump: 1. Bailey-Smith (Wey) 6-11, 3. Pat Garvey (Hav) 6-2
Girls Division 1 State Meet
Top 5 team scores plus locals (32 teams scored): 1. Newton North 95.5, 2. Acton-Boxboro 62, 3. Lincoln-Sudbury 56, 4. Brockton 51, 5. Lowell 36; Also: 17. Andover 15.5, 21. Haverhill 11, 30. Methuen 2.5
Winners and area placers: 100 hurdles: 1. Vanessa Clerveaux (Brock) 14.19, 8. Courtney Comeau (And) 15.90; 100 meters: 1. Briana Robitaille (Attl) 12.13; Mile: 1. Marka Crow (L-S) 5:10.80, 5. Bridget Twomey (Hav) 5:14.28, 7. Julia Solimine (Hav) 5:18.01; 4x100 relay: 1. Brockton 48.75, 6. Andover (Natalie Wagner, Micaela Soucy, Sydney Gillis, Alex Puccia) 50.82; 400: 1. Maya Jarostchuk (A-B) 56.85; 400 hurdles: 1. Jen Kimball (Wey) 1:03.85; 800: 1. Bryanna Allison (Low) 2:17.97; 200: 1. Amanda Henson (Barn) 25.53; 2-mile: 1. Catarina Rocha (Peab) 11:03.43, 5. Maggie Mullins (And) 11:31.00; 4x400 relay: 1. Lexington 4:02.64; 4x800: 1. Lincoln-Sudbury 9:29.58, 7. Haverhill (Samantha Wise, Solimine, Twomey, Kaleigh Fitzgerald) 9:43.52
Pole vault: 1. Steph Brown (NN) 11-0, 6. Chloe Pearson (And) 9-0; Shot put: 1. Maya Umoren (NQ) 38-0 3/4, 5. Cassandra Kobekski (And) 35-11; Discus: 1. Briana Davis (CR&L) 120-4, 8. Rachel Aldrich (And) 97-6; Javelin: 1. Nicole Genard (Som) 139-10; Long jump: 1. Carla Forbes (NN) 19-3 1/2; Triple jump: 1. Forbes (NN) 41-2; High jump: 1. Lucy Alexander (L-S) 5-5 1/4, 6. Eladia Cespedes (Meth) 4-11