BILLERICA — All season long the Shawsheen Tech Boys Track and Field team had overcome every obstacle put in front of them, both literally and figuratively, on their way to winning their fourth consecutive CAC dual meet championship with a perfect 10-0 regular season record.
So perhaps it should have come as no surprise that even as Greater Lawrence appeared to be pulling away from the Rams in Saturday’s CAC League Championship Meet held at the Charles Lyons Athletic Complex, the Rams still believed they could win.
It might have been hard for anyone else to believe when the Rams fell into a 24-point deficit at 81-57 following the 4x100 relay, but the Shawsheen athletes and coaches did not let doubt enter their minds.
And were they ever right.
The Rams came storming back over the last five events of the day to finish atop the nine team field with 105 points, edging Greater Lawrence’s 92 points and easily outdistancing their next two closest competitors, Whittier Tech with 60 and Essex Tech with 58 to win their third straight CAC League Meet Championship.
Shawsheen coach Jeff McGrath had seen his team come back from large deficits before, including in their season finale against Greater Lawrence and Lynn Tech, so he knew what they were capable of.
“It’s been a wild ride,” McGrath said. “Just like our double dual meet with Greater Lawrence, we knew our best opportunities to close the gap and even take the lead would be in the 400 meters, 800 meters, and 200 meters”
That certainly turned out to be the case, as the Rams began their comeback in the 400 meters with senior Jason Myers of Tewksbury racing to a first place finish in a personal best time of 53.25, followed by junior Matthew Puztizzi in fourth in personal best 54.65.
Right around the same time, the results of the long jump were being calculated and with Myers earning a third place finish with a distance of 19-03.75, the Rams suddenly found themselves within 84-75 and a comeback no longer seemed like such a farfetched possibility.
The 800 meters was next, and when senior Gavin Pigott of Wilmington took second in a personal best time of 2:04.71 and senior Stephan Saint-Juste took fourth in a personal best time of 2:06.80, the Rams moved into and 87-85 lead and they never looked back.
Just to remove any doubt at all, senior Ralph Desrosiers of Wilmington blew away the field in the 200-meter dash in a personal best time of 23.89 to put Shawsheen firmly in control at 97-91.
“As I mentioned before, the best thing about this group is that they welcome pressure,” McGrath said. “One of my favorite quotes is “Big time players show up in big time games.” True to form, Jason and Matt had personal records in the 400. Gavin and Stephan had personal records in the 800, and then finally, Ralph had a personal record in the 200 for first place and ten points. These 34 points in three consecutive events changed the tide and created a lead that would be too large to lose. These guys found a way to run their absolute best when we needed them most.”
In addition to the thrilling comeback, the Rams got several outstanding performances throughout the day, starting with Myers and Desrosiers, who put up 40 points combined.
Myers had 22 points with top three finishes in the 400 and the long jump, along with a second place finish in the triple jump, as well as being part of the Rams meet clinching second place finish in the 4x400 relay along with Pustizzi, Pigott and Dan Archibald in a time of 3:43.93.
Desrosiers earned 18 points with his dominant win in the 200, as well as a second place finish in the 100-meter dash in a time of 11.28.
They weren’t alone in their big days however. Other top performers for the Rams included senior Anthony DiCesare with a first place finish in the javelin with a throw of 141-00, along with Saint-Juste, who in addition to his fourth place finish in the 800, also earned a second place finish in the high jump with a height of 5-10.00.
Other second place finishers for the Rams included senior captain Ryan Smith in the two mile in a time if 10:34.17 and senior Mike Reppucci of Tewksbury in the 110-meter hurdles in a time if 16.88.
Sophomore Derek Costello of Wilmington pushed himself to a third place finish in the 400-meter hurdles in a time of 1:00.28, while fellow sophomore Alex Smith was seventh in a field of 18 runners in the one mile in a personal best time of 5:01.01 and 12th in a field of 29 runners in the 800 meters in a personal best time of 2:15.33.
The win and the league title would be satisfying under any circumstances for McGrath and the Rams, but the way his team went about winning the title made it that much sweeter, if that was possible.
“That will be the enduring thing I will always remember about the 2019 team,’ McGrath said. “The clutch performances and delivering in the biggest moments. I can’t say enough about how much this team has grown.”
This Sunday, the Rams will compete at the Eastern Mass Division 3 Championship Meet to be held at Merrimack College starting at 10:00 am.