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Brighton High track team streaks past opponents

Jimmy Myers
Brighton High track team streaks past opponents
Khalil Jamison sprints ahead during a relay race. PHOTO: ANTONIO HALLIDAY

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Brighton High track coach Antonio “Tony” Halliday, an alumnus of the school, has taken only two years to lead his young charges to an undefeated 5-0 record this spring season.

With 22 newcomers on a squad of 30, Halliday has a special bond with his athletes.

(from left) coach Tony Halliday, Delmace Mayo and coach Rowan Bishop. PHOTO: SHOTBYE5

“The best part of my job as a coach is the relationship I have with my young athletes,” he said. “I think one of the main reasons for our success is that we speak the same language.  I was raised in Dorchester, a D.C.S. [Department of Child Services] kid, just like so many of my current athletes.  I graduated from Brighton High School.  This being a Boston Public High School makes me aware of many of the problems my student-athletes face today.”

Despite all the outside pressures and influences, Halliday’s track-and-field teammates use the sport “as an outlet for expressing themselves.  When they step on the track, they put a lot of the drama in their lives out of their minds — even if only for those moments of competition,” he said.

The strength of this year’s Brighton track team is the relay and field events.

“Coming into my second season I wanted to improve the field event area where we were lacking over the recent years.  I think we have done tremendously better in this area,” Halliday said. With three meets remaining, there is a strong possibility of several Brighton High track and field athletes making it to state competition.

“That is one of our main goals,” he said. “It would be a boost for the mental well-being of my athletes to know that they can compete with some of the best athletes in the state of Massachusetts.”

Strict training and discipline are a necessity on this team, on the field and in the classroom. “Everyone on our team has better than average grades — 2.8 and higher,” Halliday said. “The same academic standards apply to the young women and men on this team.  You must do your work in class — no exceptions.  If I find someone not achieving in class, I am right on their case.

Clockwise from top left: Agnessa Lysenko, Jai’Reona Brown-Carter, Natan Junio Gomes De Lima, Gerald Aarony Barrios Lopez, Analia Rojas, Lisbeth Cermeno Santiago. All photos by ShotBye5, except Analia Rojas by jj.photography.

“My athletes know that I care more about them as people than as athletes. And since we speak the same language, we relate to each other on a deeper plane. It helps to know that the person you are working with comes from the same background as you do.”

This year’s Brighton track and field squad combines talent with a history-making tradition. Halliday says his best overall athlete is Jai’Reona Brown-Carter, and his best field event competitor is Adriyana Chandler.

Delmace Mayo, a nationally ranked wheelchair competitor, is the best young male athlete on the team. He competes in the 800-meter, mile, and 200-meter wheelchair events. “He gets it done every day, and his hard work inspires his male and female teammates,” Halliday said. Mayo, adopted from Port-au-Prince in Haiti as a baby, is the first para-athlete to compete and win at the Indoor New Balance Nationals held in Boston.  His goal is to compete for the for the Arizona Wildcats in college

The young women’s 4×100 sprint team features Analia Rojas, Adrianna Tamar, and Lisbeth Santiago — who has already qualified for state competition in the 400-meter hurdles, becoming the first female in the program in over a decade to be eligible for states in her event — with Jai’Reona Brown Carter running the anchor leg.

The young men’s 4×100 sprint team features Eugene Van Buren III, Natan De Lima and Igharo DeCarvahlo, with Khalil Jamison running the anchor leg.

With a squad dominated by two- and three-sport athletes who attend school daily, it is plain to see why Brighton High School has a winning record in both women’s and men’s track and field.

On a historical note, Agnessa Lysenko, a Brighton High School track and field graduate, is about to compete in the NCAA Junior College national championships in the hammer throw. The Russian-Polish immigrant is the first Brighton High School woman to throw the hammer in 50 years.

Meanwhile, Gerald Lopez is the first middle schooler in the history of Brighton High School to compete in the 400-meter run in the New Balance Indoor National Track and Field event.

With several of his young women and men being recruited to small New England colleges, Halliday’s focus is on the upcoming state track and field championships at Merrimack College from May 23 to May 26.

“I believe my team will respond well to the bright lights and competition that they will face,” he said.

 

Brighton High School, high school athletes, Sports, track and field

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