GHS Boys 4x4 Relay Runs to boston
GHS boys 4x400 relay team qualified and competed at New England Regionals in Boston, MA. The team with alternates (l-r) Dominic Pena, Kevin Clarke, Jackson Boyd, Michael Sardo, Joseph Accurso, and Cody Stone
Seven-tenths of a second doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but in a race, the blink of an eye can be the difference between moving on and going home.
The Glastonbury High School indoor boys 4x400 relay team edged the relay team from Naugatuck High School by the slim margin in the State Open on Feb. 19, qualifying them for the Regional competition in Boston.
Jackson Boyd, Kevin Clarke, Joe Accurso, and Michael Sardo make up a relay team that was seeded eighth going into the competition and finished sixth, sending them to the Boston-based tournament.
Head coach Mark Alexander said he knew the team was primed to run fast at the Open and he liked the position they were in, adding, “We knew they could qualify. We just kept giving positive feedback.”
Alexander was so confident that he said he had already booked the hotel and made restaurant reservations in Boston.
“They knew they could do it, they just all had to have good times at the same time,” added Alexander, “I knew this team could do special things.”
Boyd, a junior, is the youngest of the four. He leads off the relay team and sets the tone for the rest of the race.
It took Boyd a while to embrace the lead role, but he has since grown to enjoy it.
“Starting off there is a lot of pressure because it’s like you’re running your 400 solo. There is no catching up to someone or staying in front of somebody. You have to be there to set a pace,” said Boyd.
At the State Open, Boyd finished his leg and thought he had run poorly, but in reality he had set a blazing pace.
“I like the relays a lot. You get to cheer each other on at the end and you’re doing it as a team. The energy in the building is better,” added Boyd
Boyd passed the baton to Clarke, a task that has been an issue for the two in the past but this time it was smooth until Clarke turned to sprint.
“[The exchange] felt good until I turned around and there was a guy in front of me that I had to run around,” a smiling Clarke said.
Clarke, who is also one of the team’s top jumpers in the field, used his athletic ability to quickly dodge the opposing runner and regained his stride.
Next up was Accurso, who was new to the team and was running with the group for the first time competitively. He is known for his success in distance and was added to the team after the Class LL meet.
“In the week leading up I was able to work out with these guys and increase my top speed. We were able to iron out the order and find a good spot where my distance ability could help,” said Accurso, who knew his role. “Basically my job is to get it smoothly from Kevin and keep our position and get Michael in a good spot to do what he does.”
He did just that, giving the baton to Sardo, the team’s anchor and fastest 400 runner.
Sardo has been the relay team’s anchor for the last three years, a spot he finds comforting.
“I like the pressure, I really enjoy it,” said Sardo. “Being the anchor and knowing you have to finish strong is definitely the way I like to run the race.”
Sardo did what he does best, running past opponents and cementing sixth place overall by what amounted to a photo finish. The four combined to run a 3:35.46, edging seventh-place foursome from Naugatuck, who ran a 3:35.53. The top six teams go on to compete at Regionals.
Once the team officially found out they qualified for Regionals by a fraction of a second, they didn’t know how to react.
“We were all going crazy and yelling. We were exchanging clothes for some reason,” Clarke said laughing.
Accurso added, “It was fantastic, it was definitely the highlight of the season.”
Boyd, Clarke, and Sardo have added chemistry from playing soccer together at GHS and Accurso is an extremely experienced runner, excelling at cross country in the fall.
Each of the four has distinctly different personalities, but together they created a championship-worthy relay team.
On March 5, the team competed in the New England Regionals at the Reggie Lewis Center in Beantown where they ran an even faster time, finishing 3:33.28—the team’s best time all season.
When Boyd was asked what the key is to a good relay team, he replied with a simple answer, “Michael Sardo.”
Sardo said it was a team effort, adding, “If we weren’t all looking forward to the same goals I don’t think we would have had a chance at going to New Englands.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin