BRIDGEWATER, MA — In 1974, Mount Desert Island High School senior Joan Westphal set a record in the half-mile run in outdoor track that stood for 40 years – until this Saturday.
Isabel Erickson of the class of ’14 bested Westphal’s record at the New England meet at Bridgewater State University. MDI Coach Ian Braun adjusted all the standing school records when the events switched to metric distances when he became coach in 2003. Westphal ran the half-mile in what works out to a time of 2:22.60 for the metric 800-meter run. Erickson ran the 800 in 2:22.20 Saturday, placing 21st in the meet.
“She was excited to get more speed working, really enjoying herself,” said coach Brad Witham. “She set the school record at the last possible second” – the day before her graduation. She and her twin sister were co-valedictorians.
The New England meet brings together the top six performers from each state in each event. “Getting to take thirteen kids to New Englands was really awesome,” said coach Brian O’Connell. “That was a first for me.”
The girls’ 4×800 relay team, Lydia DaCorte, Waylon Hennggeler, Caroline Driscoll and Isabel Erickson placed 14th with their time of 9:48.17.
The boys’ 4×400-meter relay team placed 17th with a time of 3:32.58, a personal record for them. The team was Brandon Murphy, Ryan Bender, Will Richard and Ralph Magnani. Alternates Matt Hanna and Josh Bloom have been training in relays, so their times “are just going to keep getting better,” O’Connell said. “Brad has done a very good job with them.”
Senior shot put champ Chapin McFarland, who earned PVC and state titles in the event in indoor and outdoor track this year, qualified for the meet as well. He placed 14th with a throw of 48 feet, 5.5 inches.
O’Connell and Witham agreed that this season was among their favorites as coaches. “It feels like we made so much progress. We had a really focused group,” O’Connell said. “I had a good new group of girls come in for throwing events. That was nice. Our freshman core was a really good group. They’re going to be something else.”
Upperclassmen on the team have been teaching clinics for the middle school track programs on MDI. “People keep coming up to Coach Witham and telling him how amazing they are, and how focused.” The clinics benefit both the older and younger runners, and will help support MDI’s competitive success for years to come.