HAVERHILL — Not long before she stepped onto the track for the 4x100 relay, Andover senior Rachel Annino discovered the reputation of her opponent in the anchor leg, New England 55-meter indoor champion and New Hampshire legend Betsy Garnick of Bishop Guertin and Pelham.
“I had no idea how amazing she was,” said Annino. “Coach (Peter) Comeau said that she was the complete package. So I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to reach the finish line. It was all adrenaline.”
Taking the baton with a slight lead, Annino was able to hold off meet MVP Garnick to give Andover the victory in the 4x100 in 51.80 — the win that clinched the Ottaviani Invitational team title yesterday afternoon.
The Golden Warriors took the meet championship with 87 points, besting No. 2 Lowell (76), despite competing without a trio of Eagle-Tribune All-Stars, hurdler Courtney Comeau (lower back injury), jumper Catherine Haut (shin splints) and thrower Cassie Kobelski (vacation).
The Central Catholic boys placed second as a team (88 points), behind Reading (99) in a meet that came down to the final event, the 4x400 relay.
“It’s so excited that we finished it off and won the title,” said Annino, who also took second in the 100 dash. “We had a lot of injuries, and some of the people that were running were fighting through pain. It shows how deep a team we are as a team. The girls did great.”
The Warrior 4x100 entered the event shorthanded, with regulars Annino and Micaela Soucy joined by newcomers Michelle Gencorelli and Hannah Ameen, who were sent in to replace a pair of vacationing athletes.
“We were learning handoffs at the meet before the race,” said Annino. “So we weren’t sure what to expect. Once I got the baton I just wanted the race to be over. (Garnick) was so tough. But it was a real thrill.”