There was a buzz in the Reggie Lewis Center when Tewksbury junior Makayla Paige made the last turn of the girls’ 600-meter race at the Division 3 Indoor Track Championships on Friday evening. Earlier in the race, it was announced that Paige’s splits could lead to her setting the New England record in the event.
Paige was nine seconds ahead of her closest competitor. She drove to the white stripe with the crowd erupting seeing the clock read 1 minute 29.70 seconds, a new state and New England record, while also setting the best time in the country this season.
“It was definitely a really painful race beginning to end. I tried going out a bit harder than normal,” Paige said. “It was really tough to finish, but it was good.
“It was a practice in mental toughness,” Paige added about running alone. “I always pretend like there is someone right behind me. You never know. All the runners are amazing.”
Stoughton claimed the boys’ Division 3 title with 76 points, while Hopkinton won the girls’ team championship with 61 points. It was the first Division 3 championship for Stoughton and the first win since 2005 for Hopkinton.
The Massachusetts 600-meter record had been intact since 1988 (Kathleen Stewart, 1:32.30), but any news about the record was foreign information to Paige.
“I wasn’t paying too much attention to the record, to be honest,” Paige said. “My coaches didn’t want to tell me what it was. I heard snippets of what it was when they were talking to each other.”
After setting the record, Paige had little rest with the 300-meter race only a half-hour later. Even with limited time off, Paige overcame two runners on the final stretch of the 300 to win her second gold medal of the day with a time of 40.42.
In the 55-meter hurdles prelim, Stoughton senior David Peters broke his own meet record, finishing in 7.51 seconds. Then in the final heat, Peters smashed the record again, running the race in 7.43 seconds. Those 10 points gave Stoughton a perfect boost to start the meet.
Hopkinton senior Schuyler Gooley strategized her mile race knowing she was doubling with the 2-mile race later in the meet. In the mile, she waited to make her move until the last lap, winning the race in 5:16.65.
Gooley, who run next year at Cal Poly, saved the perfect amount of energy for the 2-mile winning in 11:00.29, just a second ahead of teammate Olivia Jones (11:01.46).
It was Gooley’s first two divisional titles, in indoor or outdoor track.
“She has come so close so many times. I think she really wanted it today,” said Hopkinton coach Jean Cann. “Especially, in the mile. For a while she was frustratingly close to breaking 5 [minutes] and then she was frustrating close to winning a bunch of times, and then she had a tough end to her cross-country season. She has something to prove this season. She is a phenomenal runner, phenomenal person.”
After already contributing 20 points, Gooley ran a leg in the 4×800 as Hopkinton earned a runner-up finish (9:52.04) behind Billerica to pick up valuable points and nose out Milford, 61-57, for the title.
John Hand can be reached at email@example.com.