By Nick Curcuru
---- — For Gloucester’s Jacob Holscher, Matt Carpenter and Bianca Giacalone this is now uncharted territory. The trio has found plenty of success, even dominance on the track this season, but this will be the first trip to the MIAA All State Track and Field Championships for all three Gloucester stars.
Holscher, Carpenter and Giacalone will square off with the state’s best on Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Track and Field Center in Boston.
The Gloucester trio qualified for Saturday’s All State Meet last weekend at the Division 2 State Championship Meet as Holscher placed third in the mile, Carpenter third in the 600 and Giacalone fourth in the 300.
Stepping right in
Holscher is remarkably competing in winter track for the first time in his high school career, and it didn’t take him long to make an impact on the team. A star on the outdoor track and on the cross country course, Holscher immediately gained the respect of his teammates as both a competitor and a leader as the team voted him in as captain.
“I sat the team down the first week of practice and told them we haven’t named a captain yet because all of them graduated,” Gloucester head coach Jeff Destino said. “Jacob stepped right up. In the back of my mind I knew he would be a good captain, he was a tremendous captain during cross country season. But it was his first year running indoor track so I didn’t know if his teammates would vote him in but they did and he’s been great.
He leads by example on the track. He’s quiet by he’s very mature and has turned into a quality leader.”
Holscher’s presence as a leader was felt by the team immediately, as was his production on the track. The senior captain has steadily improved his time over the season en route to a berth in the All State meet.
Although it was just his first season running indoors, Holscher finished the regular season unbeaten in conference play and went on to win the mile at the Northeastern Conference Championship Meet earlier this month.
Holscher said he decided to run winter track this year because he just can’t get enough of running.
“It’s my senior year and I just wanted to run as much as I could,” the NEC mile champion said. “It took a little time to transition from running a 5k in cross country to the mile but I think I’m a little better at the shorter distances, it’s been a good season.”
Holscher got to the All State Meet with a career best performance last weekend. Squaring off the best milers in Division 2 he shaved 11 seconds off of his previous personal best time to finish in third place (4:23.19).
“My goal was a top four finish and to qualify for the All State so I was really happy to get them both,” Holscher said. “My training has gone very well over the last couple of weeks and the competition really pushed me to get a good time.”
He is hoping to top that time again on Saturday against the best milers in the state.
“I want to live up to my seed,” he said. “I’m looking for a top five finish.”
Peaking at the right time
It takes a special breed of runner to successfully navigate the 600, and Carpenter certainly fits the mold.
The 600 can be a very tricky race as it is a bit of an in between race as one has to have sprinter like speed to go along with the endurance of a straight distance runner. As a soccer player in the fall, Carpenter’s skill set falls into both of those categories which makes him one of the most dangerous 600 runners in the state.
“You have to be versatile,” Destino said. “The 600 is kind of an in between race. Often times kids running the 600 are very athletic and Matt is definitely a great athlete. He also has an endurance background being a soccer player and a middle distance runner.
What also makes Matt so good is his toughness. It’s the shortest distance race in indoor track and he has the determination and he loves to compete.”
Since the start of the season Carpenter has inched closer and closer to his goal of the school’s 600m record, which currently belongs to Kevin Hurd (1:23.88). Carpenter came within a second of that mark in the Mass. Coaches Meet last month and came really close again en route to a first place finish at the Northeastern Conference Championships earlier this month.
Carpenter, however, saved his best time for the most important meet of the year with a third place finish at last week’s Division 2 State Meet with a time of 1:24.18. The time bumped Carpenter up four spots from the No. 7 seed he entered the meet with.
“He came into the season super motivated knowing he has a chance to break the record, and he has another chance on Saturday,” Destino said.
Raising the bar
Giacalone came into the winter track season already sporting the school record in the 300m, but that didn’t stop her from breaking her own record three more times this indoor season.
The senior captain has been wreaking havoc on the Northeastern Conference over the last four seasons, but this is her first trip to All States. She is hoping to best her school record mark, which currently stands at 42.42 seconds, once again at the All State Meet.
“It’s really exciting, especially with it being my senior year,” Giacalone said. “I’ve been to states since my freshman year but haven’t been able to make it this far, it’s exciting to get to the next level. Hopefully I can end the season on a good note and lower my time again.”
Entering the Division 2 Meet last weekend as the No. 9 seed, Giacalone had to improve upon her time to get into the All State Meet in a race where times are very closely contested, and she did just that.
The senior sprinter, who is heading to Merrimack College next fall to run track and play soccer, competed in the slower of two heats last weekend, but her mentality did not change. Instead of focusing on her opponents, Giacalone focused on herself and that mind set paid off as she finished in fourth place with another record time.
“It’s these big meets where you have to step up to the plate so I came in a little nervous but focused,” Giacalone said. “I knew my standing would be by time, not where I finished in my heat so I went out with the mind set that I needed to break away from the pack. In a few races I went out too fast and I have finished with too much energy before too, I think I put it all together (last weekend).”