Ayer Shirley senior Ethan Matthews leads the pack during the mile race at Saturday s Central/Western Mass. Division 1 championship meet at Fitchburg State University. Matthews finished third in the event to help lift the Ayer Shirley boys to first-place team finish. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / JOHN LOVE
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

FITCHBURG — The depth of Ayer Shirley Regional’s boys’ track and field team carried the Panthers to the title at Saturday’s Central/Western Mass. Division 2 track and field championships at Fitchburg State University’s Elliott Field.

Ayer Shirley, sparked by the performance of senior distance runner Ethan Matthews, rolled up 78 points to easily outdistance Oakmont (50), Tahanto (36), Uxbridge (31) and Quabbin (30).

With its win, Ayer Shirley added another trophy to what has been a dominant year, having won the Central/Western Mass. Division 2 and state Division 5 championships during the indoor season.

“I think most of (our athletes) performed as expected today. I think a few of them over-performed and stepped up to pick up those kids that might have missed their mark today,” said Ayer Shirley coach Michael Seguin. “But on the whole, I thought we came and did what we were hoping to do.”

Matthews placed third in the mile (4:34.09), second in the 2-mile (9:45.57) and second as part of the 4×800-meter relay team (8:24.92).

The Panthers got a sensational effort from senior Matt Sabatino, who not only won the shot put with a throw of 47 feet, 3.25 inches, but also beat his personal best by some four feet in the process.

Ayer Shirley also got first-place efforts from its 4×100 relay team (45.79), Manny Desouza in the discus (125-4) and Trevor Fields in the 800, with teammate William Ernst placing third.

On the girls’ side, Bromfield Academy claimed the team title with 63.5 points, edging South Hadley (59) for the crown. Mount Greylock was third with 48. Among the local teams. Littleton was fifth with 33 points, Oakmont placed seventh (30), Murdock placed eighth (26), Lunenburg was 21st with 15 points, Ayer Shirley scored 11.75 points and Gardner had two points.

Leading the way for the Ayer Shirley girls, freshman Alice Lemieux finished fourth in the shot put with a distance of 33 feet, 11.25 inches and junior Anna Norton placed seventh in the high jump at 4 feet, 10 inches.

The top four placewinners in each of the boys’ and girls’ events earned berths into Saturday’s all-state meet on the campus of Fitchburg State University.