The start of 2022 marks the third calendar year that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and the Hopkinton High School boys indoor track and field team has felt the impact of the ongoing health crisis. Despite losing numerous athletes for stretches of time due to virus protocols, the Hillers won five straight dual meets to capture the Tri-Valley League championship.
“The kids are running well and competing well, especially given the number of days we have lost to COVID,” coach Mike Donahue said.
Donahue estimates the number of athlete days lost to be well into the hundreds. When one athlete tests positive, he is out for at least five days and needs a note from a doctor in order to return. Some Hillers have been out for close to half the season.
What has kept Hopkinton not only competitive but at the top of the standings, has been depth. The Hillers have around 100 athletes — about twice as many as the next-largest team in the TVL.
“We would make out our lineup on a Monday and, by the time the meet comes around, we’ve changed 50 percent of it because people are out,” Donahue said.
Fortunately and most importantly, no one has been really sick, the coach said. And Hopkinton has still dominated its competition in the TVL.
“We have a lot of young guys and a really strong junior class,” Donahue said. “And our freshman and sophomore groups have been really good.”
Junior captain Sean Golembiewski has been the best athlete on the roster. He is the top hurdler in New England and the best high jumper in Massachusetts. Golembiewski entered the dash to work on his sprints and ran the top time in the league. He then did the same thing in the 300 meters.
Declan Mick, a fellow junior captain, is the TVL’s second-best hurdler, and sophomore twins Will and Drew Bialobrzeski are also among the 10 best in the league, giving the Hillers unmatched depth in the hurdles. Junior Neil Abraham has one of the faster times in the TVL in the dash.
Senior Colin Davan is the team’s top runner in the 600 and junior Wyatt Ruff is the league’s top runner in the 1,000 and among the best in both the 600 meters and the 2 mile.
“He is probably our strongest distance runner,” Donahue said.
The distance events also have been buoyed by sophomore Ben Scott and senior Matt Burdulis. Despite missing time during the winter, senior Riley Finnegan is the second-best shot putter in the TVL.
Donahue said that the Hillers are in a good position to capture the TVL showcase meet and then will turn their attention to the divisional state competition. The teams in Division 2 are tough, including powerhouses like North Andover and Catholic Memorial, but Donahue is hoping for a top-five finish and said that is within reach.
Golembiewski will be competing on the national level following the season, Donahue added, and there could be other Hillers joining him if they finish the year strong.
The talented junior class could allow Hopkinton to turn some heads at the divisional state meet and potentially set the Hillers up to compete for a crown next winter.
“Next year, we might have a window, we might have an opportunity,” Donahue said. “I think we will be a team that people look at and say, ‘Wow, where did they come from?’ ”