WENHAM — Under a media tent, Gloucester senior William Kenney collapsed to his hands and knees. He rolled onto his side as his teammate Eli Heanue trotted over to give him water. Shortly after Heanue helped him up to his feet for the interview, Kenney vomited.
Moments before , Kenney had edged Northampton’s Riley Cole in the 1-mile, breaking his personal record in the process. Kenney and Cole ran neck-and-neck ahead of the pack for the duration of the race, but Kenney, a UMass Amherst commit, “went to a place I don’t go very often,” he said, crossing the finish line in 4 minutes 17.32 seconds. And he did it on a sweltering day Sunday with a high of 91 degrees.
“This is definitely the fastest I ran in a heat like this before,” Kenney said. “By that third lap, you really feel it just pushing you down. Especially that second 200 of the third lap. And I just sort of dug deep.”
Athletes at the MSTCA Jim Hoar Coaches Invitational faced the blistering sun as well as strong competition. Many, like Kenney, came out victorious with new personal records. But the heat didn’t make Sunday easy on anyone — pole vaulters sought shelter under umbrellas and tents while waiting, makeshift ice baths popped up behind the bleachers, and runners shortened their warmups to save energy.
“You can definitely let [the heat] get to your head and you can let it be an excuse for not performing as well,” Kenney said shortly after his coach Mark Dawson poured ice water on his head and down his back. “I’ve done that in the past. Just trying to block it out, saying everyone has to run in this condition, I can still dominate in that. That was sort of my thinking there.”
It was the first truly hot meet of the season, multiple coaches said. Canton’s coaching staff sent several text messages to the team the day before, reminding their players to hydrate more than usual. Some teams had a rule where if an athlete wasn’t competing or cheering, they had to be in the shade of their team tent.
Kenney said he hadn’t run a race in this kind of conditions in over a year. As soon as he could following his 1-mile race, he walked over to his team’s tent for a 30-minute dip in an industrial-sized blue recycling bin filled with ice water; the ice, of course, had already melted.
Melrose junior Anna Mackey, who won the girls 800 (2:22.41), said she and her teammates rubbed ice cubes on themselves before racing. Mackey added she didn’t love competing in the conditions, but favored it over the “stuffy” Reggie Lewis Center where many indoor meets are held.
Distance runners weren’t the only ones competing with the heat waves. Deyontai Dennis, the Canton senior who excelled in the 400-meter hurdles (first), long jump (second) and triple jump (second), said it was so hot he felt like he almost passed out during the hurdles.
“This should be illegal,” Dennis joked.
● As Cambridge sophomore Kylee Bernard rounded the first bend of the girls’ 400-meter race, her brother Jalen shouted from the infield. “Gotta battle, Ky! Let’s go, Ky!,” Jalen, also Cambridge’s girls’ head coach, yelled. Bernard — who’s slated to run in the upcoming state championships — was seeded second, but won the 400 handily, kicking strongly to pull away from Franklin’s Jillian Fenerty. She recorded a PR of 57.54, nearly two seconds faster than the rest of the field. Her brother’s added motivation surely helped. “Me and my brother are really close,” Bernard said. “It’s a love/hate relationship. He can be super annoying ... like right now when he told me to get up. But other than that he’s a good motivator.”
● St. Johns Prep senior Jarrett Young, who picked up track and field only last August, set a school record in the 400-meter dash with a blazing 48.40 time — a personal best. Young, who will run at Rhode Island next year, also starred in football and lacrosse.
● Gloucester won’t have Kenney next year, but its distance team is ready to retool. Dawson tabs freshman Flinn O’Hara as the team’s miler of the future. O’Hara placed fifth in the freshman 1-mile, though he ran in the first heat and dominated. Without true competition, O’Hara led comfortably the whole race, which made his pace even more impressive because he didn’t have anyone pushing him, Dawson said. Had O’Hara competed in the second heat with faster runners, perhaps he would’ve pushed harder than his 4:51 personal-best time. O’Hara, coincidentally, is the grandson of former US Olympian Tom O’Hara, who once held the world record for fastest indoor mile and was the first person in the state of Illinois to break the 4-minute mark. “He has a little bit of pedigree inside of his blood,” Dawson said of O’Hara. “He’s going to be his own runner, fully. But seeing him run and seeing how he runs, we don’t have expectations of him being anywhere close to that or whatever, but we do think that he has enough guts, wherewithal, work ethic, that he’ll do very well.”
Melrose 6, Wakefield 1 — Christian Carrieri fanned eight batters while giving up just two hits and one run across seven innings on the hill, powering the Red Raiders (4-5) to a Middlesex League road victory. The loss is the first of the year for the No. 16 Warriors (9-1).
St. Mary’s 3, Bishop Feehan 0 — Aiven Cabral pitched a complete game, logging nine strikeouts in the shutout win for the host Spartans (11-5). Terence Moynihan had two hits and an RBI in the Catholic Central League win.
Andover 5, North Andover 0 — Senior Reilly O’Brien won 6-0, 6-3 at first singles to highlight a Merrimack Valley Conference road win for the Warriors (8-0).
Andover 5, North Andover 0 — Isabel Zhou (6-0, 6-0), Rachel Chen (6-0, 6-1) and Evie O’Brien (6-0, 6-0) breezed through their respective singles matches to pace the host Warriors (9-0) in the Merrimack Valley Conference matchup.
Correspondent Ethan Fuller also contributed to this story.