WHS track sends three athletes to All-States


Credit: Sasha Libenzon

Three athletes on the varsity track and field team qualified for the MIAA Meet of Champions meet at Fitchburg State University. Captain junior Elena Mente competed in the pole vault, junior Daniel Narvaez raced in the 800 meter run and sophomore Caitlin Heus-Smith participated in the long jump and triple jump.

Sasha Libenzon

The Wayland High School track and field team sent three athletes to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Meet of Champions. The meet had athletes from all over the state and took place on Thursday, June 1 and Saturday, June 3 at Fitchburg State University. Junior captain Elena Mente pole vaulted, junior Daniel Narvaez raced in the 800 meter run and sophomore Caitlin Heus-Smith competed in the long jump and triple jump.

The All-State meet is the highest level of competition that the state of Massachusetts has to offer for high school track and field. In order to compete at the meet, athletes must either win their event at the divisional meet or reach a certain time, height or distance standard throughout their season.

“The divisional meet was great,” Mente said. “I won, so I’m the division IV state champion this year, which is awesome.”

Narvaez qualified for the meet by running his personal record time of 1:59.73 in the 800 meter run, which is two laps around a track, or half a mile.

“The divisional meet was great for the 800, but the mile wasn’t too good because it was really hot outside,” Narvaez said. “The day of the 800, the conditions were perfect, so I set a personal best by three seconds.”

Heus-Smith qualified for the triple jump at the MIAA Division IV meet when she placed second with a length of 35 feet and eight inches. Earlier in the season, she leaped 17 feet and four inches in the long jump. She now holds the school record in both events.

“I was expecting to do better in the long jump than the triple jump,” Heus-Smith said. “I was really surprised that I did well in the triple jump [at divisionals]. I just decided to do triple jumping [this season] because I was decent at long jump and Coach LaClaire needed triple jumpers.”

All three athletes have set goals for themselves in the seasons to come. While Mente and Heus-Smith participate in indoor track in the winter, Narvaez runs cross country and skis for the nordic ski team, allowing him to get the endurance he needs for the distance events on the track.

“As a distance runner, I run a lot for training,” Narvaez said. “I tried to run a lot over the winter so that I could keep up my fitness even though I was already skiing.”

In the summer, Mente and Heus-Smith train on a club team. Mente practices at Patriot Pole Vault Club in Westborough, and Heus-Smith trains with the Waltham Track Club. Since WHS does not have a pole vault program, Mente has to practice with her club during the track season as well.

“All-States was really fun,” Mente said. “I saw all my friends because we go to the same pole vault club. My goal for the summer is to clear nine feet and six inches.”

The Meet of Champions was held over the course of two days, and the weather impacted the athletes. On Thursday, the weather was extremely hot at about 90 degrees, and on Saturday, the weather was much colder at about 55 degrees.

“All-States didn’t go too great for me because it was really hot, so I ran probably the slowest 800 of my season,” Narvaez said. “Despite that, it was also pretty bad for other people, so I think I actually placed better than I was seeded. My goal for next year is to make it to All-States in the mile.”

Moving forward with her club, Heus-Smith will attempt to qualify for the 2023 USA Track and Field (USATF) Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Next year, she hopes to qualify for the New England High School Track and Field Championship and the New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championship.

“I feel like I accomplished something by making it to the All-State meet,” Heus-Smith said. “I significantly improved my jumping ability. The competition was pretty steep at All-States, and a lot of the time there are people that are older than me that do better. It makes me hope that I can do better as I get older.”