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Lexington’s Hunter, Newton’s Gentile are junior achievers for Ohio Wesleyan track

 Matt Hunter shines for the Battling Bishops.

Matt Hunter shines for the Battling Bishops.

Ohio Wesleyan banking
on Hunter and Gentile

Lexington High graduate Matt Hunter is ranked fourth nationally in the heptathlon entering this weekend’s NCAA Division 3 championships in Lincoln, Neb.

Newton’s Megan Gentile closed out her indoor season with a victory in the shot put (39 feet, 10 inches) while finishing third in the 20-pound weight competition at last weekend’s North Coast Athletic Conference meet.

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Together, the two juniors have been major contributors to their respective track-and-field teams at Ohio Wesleyan University.

“We knew Matt was a tenacious competitor when we recruited him out of Lexington High,’’ said Ohio Wesleyan head coach Kris Boey. “He’s a great, versatile natural athlete who embraces the challenge of the heptathlon and, also outdoors in the decathlon, who always drives himself to improve.”

And Gentile, Boey said, is an example of persistence for the women’s squad. “She’s progressing technically because of her hard work,’’ said the coach, “and she’s ahead of where she was as a freshman and sophomore. That kind of effort rubs off on her younger teammates.’’

Hunter, a team captain at Lexington High and runner-up in the all-state 110-meter hurdles his senior year, has expanded his repertoire at Ohio Wesleyan, where he holds program records for the Battling Bishops in the heptathlon, which has seven events, and the 10-event decathlon.

He was a two-time conference track-and-field athlete of the week this season, the latter after winning the heptathlon at the NCAC combined events competition earlier this month while setting school marks in total points (5,155) and in the 60-meter dash (6.98 seconds). His heptathlon score also established conference and Ohio Division 3 marks.

“It was the highlight of my season and while I’m pretty confident going into nationals, it’s been a long journey to get to this point,’’ said Hunter, who set records at Lexington High in the pentathlon and hurdles.

“I was mainly a hurdler in high school so when I got here I knew I had to work hard on my vertical jumps, especially the high jump and pole vault.’’

Hunter, who also participates in the relays, qualified for the NCAA nationals as a sophomore, finishing 14th outdoors in the decathlon and ninth indoors in the heptathlon.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I finished last year and made a huge commitment over the summer on getting stronger,’’ said Hunter, who hails from a family of athletes, including his younger brother Michael, a sprinter on the Lexington High indoor and outdoor track squads.

Matt Hunter was introduced to competitive running when, as a student at the Bowman School in Lexington, he won a race against fifth-graders from the town’s other elementary schools.

Gentile, who was recruited primarily for basketball after playing the post at Newton North High, was a basketball and volleyball captain for the Tigers.

After the urging of friends, she switched from softball to outdoor track her junior year, focusing on the discus her junior season and the shot put during her senior year.

She also played basketball as a freshman at Ohio Wesleyan before deciding to concentrate on one sport .

“I have no regrets with that decision, but I do wish I had started with track earlier in high school,’’ said Gentile, who was selected the NCAC women’s field athlete of the week after winning the shot with a personal best 40-7.5, and placing second in the weight throw early last month at the Bob Shannon Invitational.

“It was awesome, a great honor,’’ said Gentile, whose father, Len, and brothers David and Nicholas preceded her as high school athletes, Len at Newton High and her brothers at Newton North.

Her performance at the conference indoor meet helped Ohio Wesleyan post its eighth consecutive indoor title. The men’s squad took second in its NCAC meet.

“I pretty much met my goals at the conference championships. I finished on a high note, which I hope to carry over to the outdoor season,’’ said Gentile, who has made a successful transition from the glide to the spin technique as a thrower.

“I had to change the way I threw in high school,’’ she said, “but there’s more potential for me to improve now.’’

Starrett helps lift Babson

Babson College senior hockey captain Troy Starrett of Bellingham, who missed eight games earlier in the season because of a shoulder injury, had a big hand in the Beavers’ 2-1 victory last weekend over host Norwich in the ECAC East championship game.

Babson (22-4-2), which won the conference title for the second consecutive year, earned a first-round bye and as the second seed will host either SUNY Oswego or Bowdoin in the NCAA Division 3 quarterfinals Saturday at the Babson Skating Center in Wellesley.

Starrett’s goal 12 seconds into the third period Saturday tied the score. The winger also drew a tripping penalty that led to the winning power play strike from Nik Tasiopoulos. Babson’s sophomore netminder, Jamie Murray, made 38 saves to earn the conference tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor.

Here and there

Mount Ida College junior Nickole Soto, an Assabet Valley Regional Tech graduate from Marlborough, brings versatility to the Mustangs’ softball team. Soto, who had six doubles and three homers last season, plays first, third, short, and the outfield for the Newton school. . .  Bridgewater State University senior Ricky Caruso (Waltham High) qualified for this weekend’s NCAA Division 3 wrestling championships in dramatic fashion at the Northeast Regional, where after an opening-round loss he won five consecutive matches in the heavyweight division to capture the third and final qualifying spot.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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