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Records fall for Maurais; Hopedale junior shows remarkable versatility.

Rita Maurais is fast enough to compete in the sprints and proved in cross-country she's one of the top distance runners in Central Mass.

During the winter, however, Maurais has taken the intermediate approach, excelling in the 600 and 1,000 meters, events in which she combines her speed and endurance. The junior standout holds Hopedale High's records in the 600 (1:37.74), 1,000 (2:58.12) and mile (5:13.78).

"My favorite is the 1,000, but my coach (Mark Johnson) thinks I'm a 600 runner,'' Maurais said.

Last winter, Maurais set meet records in the mile and 1,000 at the Dual Valley Conference Championships before winning the 600 at the Central Mass. Division 2 Championships.

She won the 1,000 at the Division 5 state meet, setting the Blue Raiders' record before placing sixth at All-States (2:58.15). Her school-record time in the 1,000 ranked eighth in the state last season, and her mark in the 600 was the 14th fastest time in Massachusetts.

Maurais, a 2014 T&G Super Team selection in indoor track, finished her breakout season with a 10th-place performance in the 1,000 at New Englands.

"I try my best at everything,'' said Maurais, who played varsity soccer for three years before switching to cross-country. "You have to give your best, or it's not worth anything. You can be amazing at something, but if you never give it your all, you'll never be able to notice that.''

An outside midfielder on the pitch, Maurais said it was tough to give up soccer -- a sport she still loves -- but she has become one of the area's elite harriers after finishing fourth at the Central Mass. Division 2 meet and ninth at All-States.

In addition, Maurais was named DVC Rookie of the Year. She also participated in the Footlocker Northeast Regionals in New York. It's no surprise she was a T&G Super Team choice in cross-country. Maurais credits soccer with her success in cross-country and track.

"I was very competitive in soccer, and that has carried through in running,'' Maurais said. "A lot of speed carried through from soccer. The endurance helps, especially in cross-country. It's being able to endure the pain. I've never had any running-related injuries. I'm pretty lucky when it comes to that.''

Last month, Maurais was second in the 1,000 (3:06.54) at the Winter Festival at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Boston.

"I'm happy where I am right now,'' Maurais said. "(Johnson) is confident about the season and making improvements. In comparison to last season, my times are where they should be. I'm just going with the flow. My coach wants me to qualify for nationals. I'm going to shoot for New Englands and hopefully break 2:55. That's been my goal for a while now.''

Maurais comes from a running family as older brothers Aaron and Paul starred at Hopedale. Paul runs cross country at UMass. Her younger sister Carrie, a freshman, is a highly touted distance runner for the Blue Raiders.

"I was always trying to keep up with them,'' Maurais said of her older siblings. "They helped me with cross-country. They've always enjoyed it, so I decided to try something new. So yeah, they influenced me. It was cool to have (Paul) on the team.''

Busy weekend

It was a banner, but busy weekend for the Worcester Tech/North co-op team, which competed at the MSTCA State Coaches Division 1 Relays at Reggie Lewis last Friday before spending Saturday at the Armory in New York for the Emblem Health Hispanic Games, an event hosting some the nation's best runners, jumpers, and throwers.

While coach Jerry Snay was exhausted on the bus ride back home, his kids were still energetic and excited after a successful weekend and first trip to the Armory.

The team left for New York at 5 a.m. Saturday and didn't get home until midnight.

"My boys are a veteran group,'' Snay said. "Over the last few years, we've tried to take them to the bigger meets. The kids were thrilled. They were proud. I know I was proud of the guys. The Armory was tremendous.''

In New York, the team of Barrington McLeod, Victor Pena, Jovaughn Brown and Edward Boamah broke their own school record in the 800 relay (1:36.56) and finished 46th out of 114 teams. The foursome also qualified for the Division 1 state meet.

Less than 24 hours earlier at Reggie Lewis, the same unit combined for what was a school record, 1:36.99, placing 12th out of 44.

Snay said the qualifying time for the New Balance Indoor Nationals emerging elite division is 1:33.0.

"That's our goal,'' Snay said. "We're going to try and get there. Our handoffs were not that great. We're trying new handoffs. We're tweaking it a little bit. It's working, but it's a work in progress.''

The 1,600 team of McLeod, Immanuel Hardy, Doewreh Bloh and Boamah posted a school record, 3:35.08, and was 18th out of 51. That group also qualified for the D1 state meet.

At Reggie Lewis, their 3:36.84 was good enough for 13th.

Timothy Budgell, Dustin Buteau and Anthony Lacaire competed in the shot put in New York. Budgell threw for a school-record 43 feet, 11 inches, and was 31st out of 94 throwers. He also qualified for the Division 1 states.

"I was very concerned, first, they would be very tired, and secondly, I was concerned they would be intimidated by the overall talent that would be there,'' Snay said. "I thought they were going to fall on their face, to be honest with you.''

Snay said it was a thrill to see the top-ranked 800-meter relay team in the country. Newburgh Free Academy of New York won in a blistering 1:28.56.

"We got to watch them run -- it was unbelievable,'' Snay said. "How often do you get a chance to say you've seen the top team at the same venue? Just to be in it is an honor to begin with.''

For the first time in more than a year, Tech/North ran the 3,200 last Friday and fared well, finishing in 8:43.32. The squad included Bloh, Hardy, Yuta Suzuki and Andrew Sasaki. All four are seniors, while Hardy and Suzuki are captains.

Patriot wins in New York

Congratulations to Burncoat High sophomore Rodney Agyare-May, who won the 400 meters at last Saturday's Hispanic Games in 49.76 and qualified for the national emerging elite meet at the Armory in March. His previous best at the distance was 50.01, in outdoor track.

"I was kind of nervous for the race because it was a long trip, and it was the best chance for me to qualify (for nationals),'' Agyare-May said. "Once I was getting ready to race all the nerves went away, and I was fine.''

Contact Steve Farley

at sports@telegram.com.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 17, 2015
Words:1169
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