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Norton Jumps Hurdles to Beat Record Twice

Team sets Div. 4 record and unveils their secret weapon.

Norton High School’s track team has had a tremendous season, despite a few physical and figurative hurdle’s they’ve had to jump over.

All season long, the Norton 4x50 yard Shuttle Hurdle team of Ramzi Bechara, Ben Donovan, James Sicard and Ryan Lapadula worked hard, and that work paid off at the MSTCA Division IV State Relays Jan. 14.

“We went in thinking we were going to do pretty well, but we had no idea that when we go there we were going to win and set the state record. So that was really cool, but then there was a problem,” said Sicard.

The meet was held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. The 200-meter track is indoors. As the team huddled together waiting for their time to appear on the giant screen, they broke out in cheers when they saw they had broken the Div. 4 state record. Twenty minutes after celebrating, however, coach Kent Taylor was paged over the loudspeaker.

Meet director John Carrol had to break the news to Taylor that he made a mistake in marking the finish line. It was 2 ½ feet off. Norton still won the state championship in the shuttle hurdle relay and received awards, but could not be given the record.

When the team found out, they were distraught, some of them in tears. A half an hour later, team captain Ben Donovan came up with the idea of competing in another meet. It was a long shot, since track and field officials usually don’t allow schools to appear in other division meets.

When Taylor approached Carol about the idea, Carol said it wasn’t possible. But Taylor pushed, saying, “John, with all due respect, it was your mistake. You got to give our kids another shot.”

Carol thought about it, saying he would send an email to other officials. Another 20 minutes went by, and Taylor was called over the loudspeaker again. This time, with good news. They were entered in the Division 1 meet a week later and ran a Division 4 record of 26.97, beating the old record of 27.80 set by Marblehead back in 2004.

“I’ve never seen these guys work so hard in the week after they didn’t get it up until the Div. 1 meet,” Taylor said. “These guys worked so hard.”

Donovan, Bechara, Sicard and Lapadula also qualified to compete in nationals. They are the second, third, fourth and fifth athletes from Norton High School in the indoor track team to go to nationals, which is 8 a.m. Saturday, March 10 at the New York Armory. http://www.armorytrack.com/.

“The track team as a whole, we’ve had a great season,” said Bechara of the shuttle hurdle team. “We tied our best season which we set originally in 2010 of 6 wins and two losses.”

The entire track team was also given the sportsmanship award by the Tri-Valley League and Rebekah Sargent, Jon Plummer, Ben Donovan, Mason Rouillard and Danny Lenihan were voted TVL All-Stars for the indoor track season.

They are hoping to continue their success next season, especially with the unveiling of their secret weapon.

The team has a tradition of wearing unique socks at their meets, and they will be trading in their flames for something a little more super. Next season, spectators may think they are seeing a bird, plane or even the man of steel flying over the hurdles. But actually, they will see Donovan, Bechara, Sicard and Lapadula donning their new Superman socks, complete with capes on the back.

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