EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 17, 2013

O'Donnell wins Division 1 state mile

Andover's Comeau, Kobelski and Hillies' Mayhew all place second

By Christopher Smith

---- — BOSTON — UConn-bound runner Mike O’Donnell has a cross-country and track resume about a mile long filled with honors.

One honor, however, that was missing entering yesterday’s Division 1 meet: A state track championship in an individual event.

Not anymore though.

O’Donnell won the mile (4:18.01), finishing a little more than 2 seconds faster than Brookline’s Sam Burrington, who finished second.

O’Donnell helped Methuen boys place 11th at the meet, which was at the Reggie Lewis Center.

“I knew coming in this year I had a good chance to win it and to be able to come in and win it, it made it that much better,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell knows several of his mile opponents rather well. He is good friends with Lowell’s Pat Coppinger, who finished third.

“I hang out with him on the weekends,” O’Donnell said. “And Quinn Cooney, a sophomore from Chelmsford (who finished fifth), also is a pretty good friend of mine. We talk to each other all the time.

“Having our conference (MVC) be so strong, and having that many guys (from it) seeded in a state meet, it just really helps pull you along because I could see Pat out of the corner of my eye. Just knowing he was there, I knew what I was doing was right.”

O’Donnell has come a long way in four years and he just keeps getting better.

“Four years ago, I was just a little freshman, and I think I ran the 4x400 at this meet,” he said. “I was just glad to be on the relay team. And (back then) I was watching the guys on the podium and was like, ‘That’s awesome.’ I looked up to them. And now I’m that person.”

Methuen’s John St. Hilaire, who came in sixth in the 600 (1:24.10), said, “Mike O’Donnell is fantastic. He’s always encouraging us, telling us we can do it. He’s just a great leader and a great captain.”

Comeau pleases dad

Andover’s Courtney Comeau, daughter of Golden Warrior coach Peter Comeau, was seeded fourth in Division 1 in the 55 meter hurdles.

She took second (8.68). In the process, she helped Andover place fourth as a team with 38 points. Lexington and Cambridge Rindge & Latin tied for first with 40 points each and Acton-Boxboro placed third with 39 points.

It came down to the final event, the 4x400. Lexington won, A-B took third, Cambridge fourth and Andover fifth.

“Last year I came in sixth so my goal was top five,” Comeau said. “I knew there was a lot of people better than me coming in. Before I went, I just kind of thought, ‘This is my race. I’m not going to let other people take that away.’ So I went out there, came in second and it didn’t feel real at first because second was a little high in my head.”

Comeau’s place pleased her dad quite a bit.

“My cousin (Andover football star/sprinter Cam Farnham) was up in the stands and he said he’s never seen my dad so excited,” Comeau said.

Comeau was destined to place at the state meet in this event. She has been hurdling practically ever since she began walking.

“Me and my little brother, in our kitchen, we would hurdle a lacrosse stick,” Courtney said. “We would raise it and lower it. And then I would have my dad bring home mini hurdles and I would hurdle everywhere. I’ve always been jumping over things.”

Cheer on Mayhew

Alex Mayhew didn’t run indoor track last year, but the Haverhill senior is back in a big way this year. He took second in the 55 meters (6.62).

He said about the reason he didn’t run last year, “Grades and family stuff.”

It’s good to be wearing the Brown and Gold again.

“I love track,” he said. “I’m really glad to be back.”

He said placing second means everything to him.

“I’ve been working really hard in practice and it really paid off,” he said.

Mayhew isn’t just a track star. He also participated in cheerleading for Haverhill. He said he did it just for the conditioning and to get in better shape.

Did he ever take any heat from his classmates and friends for being the only boy on the cheerleading squad?

“Oh, yeah, every week, every day, something new,” he said, smiling. “But do what you love to do. If you love taking photos, take photos. If you love doing track, do track. If you love playing football, do football. I absolutely loved the cheerleading. I loved to do flips and I just love to stunt.”

Mayhew, who did All-Star cheerleading last year, runs the 100, 200 and 4x200 during the spring. He said his best race is the 100. He plans to attend Northern Essex and then transfer to a state college.

Captain Kobelski

Andover’s Cassie Kobelski — also known as Captain Kobelski — placed second in shot put (37-6.50).

“I do theatre as well as track so when I’m in theatre, they all tease me. They’re like, ‘Oh, Captain Kobelski,’” she said.

As for track — Kobelski was seeded second entering yesterday’s meet.

“I’m glad I managed to hold onto my seed,” she said. “The only thing I wish I could have done better was improve upon my throw. One of my warm-up throws was on the 40-foot line. And I would have liked to have gotten one of those recorded. So I definitely think I could have done better. But I’m happy I got second place.”

Kobelski will throw at Holy Cross next year. She is considering majoring in Spanish.

“I’m in love with the language,” she said. “I’m actually taking an AP Spanish course right now. I want to be fluent in it. I would love to go into teaching. One of the things I’m considering is teaching English to kids in Spain or another Spanish speaking country — or teaching Spanish to kids here.”

Different works

Haverhill’s Riley Gilmore took third place in the 2-mile in a personal best 11:21.53.

“I tried something different where I tried to run more even as opposed to going out faster and trying to hold on and I think it definitely worked out,” she said.

Boys Division 1 State Meet

Team results (34 teams scored): 1. Lowell 50; 2. Newton North 48; 3. Acton-Boxboro 38; 11. Methuen 16; 19. Haverhill 10; 23. Andover 7

Area placers:

55 meter dash: 2. Alex Mayhew (Haverhill) 6.62; 8. Jose Adames (Lawrence) 6.90; 600: 6. John St. Hilaire (Methuen) 1:24.10; 1,000: 8. Mike Maldari (Andover) 2:34.66; Mile: 1. Mike O’Donnell (Methuen) 4:18.01; SP: 6. Samuel Weeks (Methuen) 49-4.75; 7. Dan Burrows (Haverhill) 48-0; 4X200: 6. Andover (Cam Farnham, Cole Organisciak, Matt Reardon, Hamza Naveed) 1:33.75; 4x400: 6. Andover (Maldari, Reardon, Demetri Kostakis, Naveed) 3:32.24

Girls Division 1 State Meet

Team results (30 teams scored): 1.tie Lexington and Cambridge Rindge & Latin 40; 3. Acton-Boxboro 38; 4. Andover 37; 18. Haverhill 9

Area placers:

55 meter hurdles: 2. Courtney Comeau (Andover) 8.68; 5. Jillian Gamache (Andover) 8.91; 2-Mile: 3. Riley Gilmore (Haverhill) 11:21.53; Mile: 6. Jackie Solimine (Haverhill) 5:15.46; SP: 2. Cassie Kobelski (Andover) 37-6.50; LJ: 7. Hannah Chapman (Andover) 16-1.50; 4x200: 5. Andover (Abbie Pustis, Rachel Annino, Micaela Soucy, Sydney Gillis) 1:48.99; 4x800: 2. Andover (Cate Donovan, Sophie Draper, Leila Aruri, Sarah Rothmann) 9:40.01; 4x400: 5. Andover (Lily Puccia, Jillian Gamache, Molly Lennon, Abbie Pustis) 4:09.02