Ally Bennett knew she was part of something special before the spring season even began.
That’s because Bennett knew she would be a member of Andover High’s 4x100 team, reuniting with Hannah Lansberry, Hope Joel and Delia Barbanti.
“We had just come off a really successful winter running the 4x200 (winning the All-State title), and we were bringing back the same lineup for the 4x100,” said Bennett. “We definitely knew we had the potential for a big season. We ran some fast times early in the spring before our handoffs really started to click. So we knew once we nailed the handoffs we could run some great times.”
The relay didn’t just run great times, they broke records this spring.
The Golden Warrior foursome shattered the Andover High 4x100 record (48.01) on the way to winning the All-State title, The previous school record of 48.26 was set in 2008.
The team also claimed titles at EMass. Division 1s (meet-record 48.69), MVCs (48.63) and EMass. Division 1 relays (meet-record 48.46). Over the weekend, they ran a 48.86 at New Balance Nationals.
“I knew the team chemistry was there since it’s team from the indoor 4x200 and we went undefeated,” said Lansberry. “But I had no idea we would be as successful as we were!”
Andover coach Peter Comeau said the team’s success was based in large part on dedication to details.
“We have had some great 4x100 teams, and to see these girls do this is amazing,” said Comeau. “What makes this group special is that I have never seen a group take and receive passes like they do. When they pass the baton they are going 90 percent speed. That takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication, and they have dedicated themselves.”
Running the opening leg each time this spring was Joel, a junior.
“I think my job is to get a good start and try to start making up the stagger on other teams,” she said. “Then I have to have a good handoff to the second leg.”
Joel — who ran a PR of 13.35 in the open 100 and placed eighth at MVCs — was thrilled to be a part of the record-setting foursome.
“I was very shocked to set the record,” said Joel, whose sister Emma is a top hurdler. “We were trying to break it all season and we did it. We are super honored and blessed. I think being so close as a team helped us break the record.”
The second leg
Taking the baton from Joe was Lansberry, a senior.
“My role is to start passing other teams on the back straightaway,” she said. “Then I gave the baton off to Delia in at least third place.”
Lansberry placed second in the 400 at EMass. Division 1s (58.82) and was fourth at MVCs (59.21). A top student who scored a 34 on her ACTs, she is headed to run track at Emory University in Atlanta.
“It was amazing to break the school record!” she said. “We didn’t even know we did it and were very shocked to hear our time of 48.01, breaking our school record by .25 seconds.”
The third leg
Receiving the baton for the third leg was Barbanti, a junior.
“To me, my main objective was handing off the baton to our anchor as close to first as possible,” she said. “If we weren’t in first already, then I ran as fast as I could to put our anchor into a good position so that they wouldn’t have to battle to much. If the anchor isn’t in the lead or close to it already, it is difficult to take first because it is such a short race.”
Barbanti delivered a breakout spring season. She won the EMass. Division 1 title in the 200 in 24.85, breaking an eight-year-old Andover High record. She was sixth at All-States in 25.36.
“Breaking the school (4x100) record was our goal all season,” she said. “We were so close and determined to get it. To hear our time was unbelievable.”
The anchor leg
Closing out the relay was Bennett, a senior.
“I ran the last leg of the relay and the most important part of that leg is taking advantage of the position my other three teammates gave me,” she said. “In every race Hope, Hannah, and Delia put me in a great place either in the lead or very close behind. I always just tried to finish strong and not waste all of the hard work they put in.”
Bennett won the 100 at MVCs (12.76) and was fifth at EMass. Division 1s (12.68). She also threw a 103-2 in the javelin.
“Breaking the school record at All-States was shocking but exciting,” she said. “We did not know our time initially, and we weren’t sure if it was fast enough. We knew we had it in us to break the record so we were all thrilled when we found out the time.
“The 4x100 has been my favorite event since I began track so being able to break that record with my teammates and friends was a perfect way to end my last high school season.”
Contact David Willis at DWillis@eagletribune.com or @DWillisET