Natick’s Athletic Success for 2017-18 Was Off The Charts

Ken Hamwey Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

Natick High’s athletic programs competed at an incredible level during the 2017-18 school year and elevated the Redhawks to a lofty perch — all 35 varsity sports qualified for post-season play.
There’s plenty of credit to be shared but Athletic Director Tim Collins is emphatic when he links this rare achievement to the efforts of student-athletes and the coaches. “It’s all about our kids being competitive and having a great work ethic,’’ said Collins, who’s in his ninth year as Natick’s A.D. “The players do all the preparation and training and it’s the coaches who challenge them, hold them accountable but still make it fun. That’s a difficult balance.’’
Others schools have experienced a 100 percent participation rate in the playoffs but they’re the exception, not the rule. Collins points to Needham and Wellesley qualifying all their teams for tourney play. “Those two schools have done it once each in the last eight years,’’ he recalled. “We’ve achieved it in what I would call the ‘modern era.’ Years ago, a winning record of 70 percent was required to qualify but we’re in an era where a .500 record gets the job done.’’
The 48-year-old Collins and the department he administers enjoyed a year that generated success in all three seasons. He’s appreciative of Natick’s teams that excelled and the individuals who paid the price for the Redhawks’ success. And, he’s acutely aware of the degree of difficulty of what transpired.
“It’s been a dream year but when something like this occurs, my role is to deflect credit to the players, coaches and those behind the scene,’’ Collins noted. “When times might be difficult and success is limited, then it’s my job to assume and absorb that difficulty.’’
Collins also has praise for the parents and the community and for some unsung heroes. “Parents and the community overall love athletics,’’ he said. “But, they know sports are a great connection with academics. When we have a year like this, it trickles down to the teachers, coaches and parents.’’
Collins is quick to cite others who play a quiet and efficient role. He lists Principal Brian Harrigan, athletic assistant Cathy Larkin and Art Goodhind, who is the director of fields for the Department of Public Works. “Brian is a former athlete who knows how valuable athletics can be for individuals,’’ Collins said. “He’s been so supportive. Cathy does a lot of work registering kids for teams and handling day-to-day athletic duties. And, Art and his crew take care of all fields at all of the schools in town.’’
Natick teams won nine Bay State Conference championships during the school year. No team captured a state title but the boys volleyball squad, which won the Division 1 Central Sectional crown by defeating Lincoln-Sudbury, 3-0, was competing in the state playoffs at Local Town Pages deadline.
Besides all the playoff qualifiers, there were other positive areas. Collins noted that participation rates for athletic teams had increased and that was achieved in part by the addition of two new programs — unified track and ultimate Frisbee. “Unified track is modeled after the Special Olympics,’’ Collins said. “There were 54 participants in track and 56 in ultimate Frisbee. Our athletic facilities are good and again the DPW deserves credit there. As for new coaches coming on board for the next school year, we’ve hired David Wainwright to replace James Blackwell as the girls soccer coach. James stepped down to devote more time to his club soccer duties.’’
Collins no doubt is hoping that the 2018-19 school year will be fruitful again. He’s delighted with the past year but offers this observation: “Our success is linked to discipline and tradition. Kids grow up in Natick wanting to play for their schools’ teams. Our competitors know they represent more than themselves. They learn quickly that their athletic experience helps to promote humility and good sportsmanship.’’
Following is an overview of each season, which was compiled by Collins. It presents a capsule look at the success of the teams and some individual achievements.
FALL 2017
Every team qualified for the MIAA State Tournament — cheerleading, girls cross- country, boys cross-country, field hockey, football, golf, girls soccer, boys soccer, girls swimming/diving, and girls volleyball.
The football and girls soccer teams were Bay State Conference champions and the girls soccer squad finished the regular season with a 16-0 record for the first undefeated season in girls soccer in school history. Rachel Jasinski was selected as a Boston Globe All-Scholastic and Eastern Mass. All-Star in girls soccer.
The girls swimming/diving team finished third in the Division 2 State Meet. Grace Connolly was the 2017 Mass. All-State champion in cross-country. She was selected for the second year in a row as the Gatorade Runner of the Year in Massachusetts. She was also a Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic. Tim Ramstrom (Boston Herald) and Malik Williams (Boston Globe) were selected as All-Scholastics in football.
WINTER 2017-18
Every team qualified for the MIAA State Tournament — girls basketball, boys basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, girls ice hockey, boys ice hockey, girls Alpine skiing,boys Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, girls indoor track, boys indoor track, boys swimming/diving, and wrestling.
Teams that were Bay State Conference champions included girls basketball, boys basketball, boys indoor track, and boys swimming/diving. The boys swimming/diving team won the 2017-18 Bay State Conference Championship and finished fourth in the MIAA
Division 1 Championships.
Ian Arnold was a Boston Globe All-Scholastic in swimming and the winter cheerleading squad won the 2017-18 Bay State Conference Championship and competed in the Nationals. Both boys and girls basketball competed in the MIAA Division 1 Central
Sectional semifinal. Connor Giersch finished eighth in the state in the MIAA Nordic Ski
Championships. In wrestling, Tim Ramstrom was the 170-pound Division 2 Central Sectional Champion. He also was a Division 2 State finalist, a third-place All-State finisher and the Bay State Conference Wrestler of the Year.
The girls indoor track team was third in the state for the indoor season. Abigail Gerdes was State champion in the 55 dash and Rachelle Parker was runner-up. Kassidy Gallagher was Bay State Conference champion in the shot put and sophomore Gabby Pagnini was runner-up. Grace Connolly took fourth place in the National mile run in New York. Owen Chase was Bay State Conference champion in the 1,000 and Dillon Arno was Boston Herald All-Scholastic in boys ice hockey.
Every team qualified for the MIAA State Tournament — baseball, girls lacrosse, boys
lacrosse, softball, girls tennis, boys tennis, girls outdoor track, boys outdoor track, unified track, boys volleyball, sailing and ultimate Frisbee.
Bay State Conference champions included softball, boys outdoor track, and boys volleyball. Sailing and ultimate Frisbee had terrific seasons in their respective post-season tournaments as well.
Grace Connolly won the MIAA Division 1 All-State mile and Abigail Gerdes was runner-up in the Division 1 All-State 100-yard dash. The boys and girls track teams were the combined 2018 Bay State Conference Meet Champions. At the New England meet at the University of New Hampshire, the girls 4x100 relay team of Gerdes, Rachelle Parker, Kylie Langan and Mackenzie Burgyone finished first in a time of 48.74. Gerdes also placed third in the 100 in 12.31 seconds.
The boys volleyball squad finished the regular season at 15-1, won three games in the tourney then won the Sectional crown. At Local Town Pages deadline, the team was preparing for its Division 1 state semifinal game against either Taunton or Needham. The unified track team had a successful inaugural season, highlighted by the 4x100 relay team (Lily Adelmann, Alex Jones, Jason Mazzola, and Alanna Mariano) finishing sixth in Massachusetts.