North Middlesex Regional High School has had its share of titles throughout the decades, but the recent success for the Patriots has come on the track. Both the boys and girls' programs have been racking up the crowns, and this year will see three of its athletes compete on the biggest stage.
Javelin thrower Martina Nkwantah, 110-meter hurdler Nick Woolsey, and pole vaulter Edward McCarthy will make the trip to Saco, Maine to compete in the New England Championship on Saturday.
"Having success has built the school spirit," North Middlesex head coach John Caouette said. "Having athletes like Nkwantah, McCarthy, Woolsey, is great because they are true athletes. To build a winning program is easy when you win. Now that we're winning the program kind of builds upon itself. Success builds success."
Both Patriot teams, the boys and girls, have record numbers in the program, both with an identical 63 athletes on each team. Since head coach John Caouette's arrival, North Middlesex has won six league titles, three for each of the boys and girls in the last three track seasons spanning back to last spring.
Caouette credits the record numbers to assistant coaches Alexandra Piatelli and Jeff Waldron, who are in the school and do a tremendous job of recruiting the athletes to the program. Even more impressive, the school's accomplishments came without a track facility for the last three years. The track is now accessible for the athletes, as of last week.
"Everything we've accomplished, we've done without a track in three years," Caouette said. "The size of the teams is a credit to our assistant coaches, and they just do an incredible job recruiting. We want the kids to be successful and have the right work ethic. But we realize with 126 kids, some kids are here for the social aspect, and we're okay with that.
The kids that want the elite training and want to go to the next level, we'll coach them differently than the kids who want to try something new in a positive atmosphere."
Having a large team allows for social connections with a number of athletes, and winning championships also has its perks to Woolsey.
"We hadn't won league titles for a while here," Woolsey said. "It's nice to win, and we've been scoring a lot higher in the state and all-state meet as well. It's not fun going into a meet and knowing you don't have a chance, but it hasn't been that way anymore."
McCarthy's story, is one of redemption. The North Middlesex senior broke his back pole vaulting, sitting out his entire junior year, but returning to the event this year to become the second best in the state, height wise tied for the best.
"To do what McCarthy did, breaking the school record with a 13-6, and then 14 feet, coming back from a broken back, is just incredible," Caouette said. "It shows the type of kid he is, with a lot of heart and determination, because you break your back pole vaulting a lot of kids are done forever."
Nkwantah's specialty goes beyond the throws, as she can also sprint and serve any need the team has. On Saturday, for the first time all season, she will just focus on the javelin, as she enters with a seed throw of 118-08.
This will be Nkwantah's first trip to New England's, after making it to all-states for the first time ever just one week prior. She had some nerves at all-states, but overcame them quickly, which she is hoping to do this Saturday.
"I didn't think I was going to throw too well," Nkwantah said. "Then I had my first throw, and I was into it. I took a big breathe and thought to myself to just throw. It's going to be some competition Saturday but I know I can do what I do in practice."
"I want to place as high as I can. This is my first time going to New England's and I'm really excited."
The surprising thing is that it is only Nkwantah's second year throwing the javelin, and she went from being a raw amateur to now being one of the top four in the state.
Woolsey has been continuously breaking his school record in the hurdles and hopes to improve upon that at New England's He enters the New England meet with a seed time of 14.71.
"I hope to make it to the finals, and run a 14.6 so I can qualify for Nationals," Woolsey said. "I've been working on my start to the hurdles, and finishing the race stronger. My strengths are getting off the hurdles and getting my foot down."
Carson Doody just missed out on New England's, but will be competing later this summer at the New Balance Nationals.