EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 2, 2014

After long journey, Severino finds home in Methuen and track

High School Track
David Willis

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METHUEN — Ruddy Severino often reflects on his childhood, running barefood through the streets of the Dominican Republic.

“I still have scars on my legs from when we would fall on the gravel roads,” he said, gesturing to his knees. “We would try to take these steep turns and crash.”

It has been quite a journey for Severino, from his youth in the Dominican, to the streets of New Jersey before moving first to Lawrence then settling in Methuen.

But he has not only made the city home, but he has emerged as an MVC champion and crucial leader for the Methuen High track team.

“Ruddy has been such a pleasure to coach over the last four seasons,” said Rangers coach Roger Fuller. “He is not afraid to go after any race that we ask him to run, from the 55 and 100 to even the 800, and he is a leader that our athletes have looked up to since he was a freshman. He approaches track and school with true dedication.”

Severino spent the early years of his life living in the Dominican Republic town of Bonao with his mother and two brothers, future Lawrence High track star and Eagle-Tribune All-Star Kelvin and current Methuen High junior Ricky.

“I was very young, but the DR is completely different from here,” he said. “There is so much more freedom, which can a lot of times be a bad thing. We always used to race around the neighborhood and that’s when I started to realize I was fast. But there really weren’t opportunities to play sports.”

At 5-years-old, after his father had settled in America, Ruddy and Kelvin moved to live with him in Hackensack, N.J. But transition proved very difficult.

“We lived in a very bad neighborhood,” said Ruddy. “Hackensack is right outside of Patterson (N.J.), which is one of the toughest cities in New Jersey. We lived in the projects. It was rough. There was a lot of bullying and a lot of gang affiliations. It was very hard to concentrate on school or really any activities.

“But I knew I had to get myself settled and try to surround myself with good people. I was able to do that and it took me in the right direction.”

Ruddy was on the move again at age 13, when he and Kelvin moved to live with their mother first in Lawrence. But less than a year later, they relocated to Methuen.

“When I first moved to Lawrence, and then Methuen, I knew it was different,” he said. “As soon as I got here I knew the surroundings were completely different and felt more positive.

“I was planning to go to Lawrence High, where Kelvin went, but for some reason Methuen High just felt like the right place for me. I went with my heart and it worked out so well.”

At Methuen, for the first time, Severino saw the opportunity to play sports.

“I had never even considered organized sports before my freshman year,” he said. “But I was at freshman orientation at Methuen and they mentioned playing sports, and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I can do that?’

“I first went out for football, and in my first practice I got hit so hard I didn’t know what to think. But I learned the sport. Then I went out for indoor track and fell in love.”

Severino not only developed into a starting defensive back on the gridiron, but he also emerged as a top sprinter for the track team.

“In the first couple day of tryouts my freshman season, I was able to run next to the varsity kids,” he said. “Then we did a time trial and my times were right up there.”

Primarily specializing in the 300 in the winter and 400 in the spring, as a junior last year Severino was a member of the sprint medley relay team that set a school record at the National Scholastic Championships. This winter, he won the MVC Meet title in the 300.

But his most memorable moment on the track was as a sophomore, when he faced off against brother Kelvin, who is now a member of the National Guard and attends UMass Lowell.

“We were both the third leg of the 4x100 relay,” said Ruddy. “He beat me, but I always remind him that his team got him the baton first. It was great. I had looked forward to that for so long. I wanted to race him so much. It was so memorable. I admire my brother so much, so to race against him to awesome.”

Star student

Severino isn’t just a standout in sports. Ruddy ranks No. 61 in his Methuen High class of 430, and will be attending Stonehill College in the fall to study engineering.

“The first time I visited the school it was with a friend,” he said. “I just fell in love. It became my first choice. It has a great engineering program, and I want to test myself in Division 2 college track. I can’t wait.”

 

See his story

For a video interview with Methuen sprinter Ruddy Severino, visit eagletribune.com/sports.