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Sports Editor

AYER — The Ayer boys track team enjoyed a season to remember last spring. The Panthers finished unbeaten in dual meets, were second at the Central Mass. Relays, and captured the Central Mass. Class C Championship. The team then showed its mettle against the larger schools in the Commonwealth, finishing on top in the Central Mass. All-Class Championships, before finishing 11th in the State Championship Meet.

“I have told everyone that a school our size winning the All-Class Championship is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Lamoreaux. “The kids really are coming off a great season.”

Graduation cost the services of four major contributors to that success story as D.J. Trinque, Antoine Payne, Michael Racca and Avery Campbell won’t be back, but veteran Panther mentor Jamie Lamoreaux is excited about what the Panthers will take into battle this season.

“Isiah Connor, Garrett Lockard, C. J. Jones, Abe Sifakis, Jason Smith and Michael Iasevoli form a solid nucleus,” said Lamoreaux. “But I’m excited about how hard the younger kids are working, and that plus our senior leadership bodes well for us. We had 55 kids come out for the team and I’m happy with what we have on hand. I think we will compete for the class title again, if we can stay healthy.”

The Panthers should once again be strong in the field events.

“Last year we were exceptional in the field events, but we don’t have Trinque and Racca this season,” said Lamoreaux. “But I still think we will be very good.”

Lockard leads the way in the shot put and discus, teaming with Matt Anderson in the shot put and Jessie Rende in the discus to form potent 1-2 punches. The other throwing event, is less settled.

“We lost our top three javelin throwers from last year and we are looking for someone to develop,” said Lamoreaux.

Ayer appears strong in the jumping events.

“C.J. and Sean Sullivan give us two six-foot high jumpers,” said Lamoreaux. “Isiah is an outstanding triple jumper and we are looking for depth behind him. C.J., Isiah and Michael Iasevoli give us three strong long jumpers. That is an event where we have the potential to be very good.”

The Panthers also appear loaded in the sprints.

“In the 100 meters, C.J. is very strong, and Sergio Silva is much improved,” said Lamoreaux. “Michael Iasevoli and C.J. give us a strong and veteran 1-2 punch in the 200 meters. Three-fourths of the 4 X 100 relay team is set with C.J., Isiah and Michael and we are searching for the other member.”

Connor gives the Panthers great strength in both the 100 high and 300 intermediate hurdles. Senior Cliff Shultz is a newcomer to the team and has shown promise.

Lamoreaux breaks into a smile when talking about the Panthers’ distance runners as that is an area of great improvement in both quality and depth.

“Cross country has really helped to develop our distance runners,” said Lamoreaux. “We have a solid core of kids who will make us strong, backed by some younger kids who have been surprises.”

Sifakis leads the Ayer mile contingent while Smith is the Panthers’ top two-miler. Freshman Robert Stiling has been impressive and could be a factor in both events. Sifakis is also the team’s top 800 meter runner, followed by Anthony Hamilton.

“I think that success breeds success and the turnout we have is great,” said Lamoreaux. “Also the older kids are tutoring the younger kids. We have a bunch of younger kids who have shown a lot of promise. I’m going to enjoy this season. We lost four qualilty kids and we’re not there yet, but we are close. We must stay healthy and focused and just go out and have some fun. I’m anxious to see how this works out.”