The boys’ track team finished 2-3.
In Mike Driscoll’s 20-plus years coaching track at Whitman-Hanson Regional High, this winter’s boys’ team holds a special place in his heart.
Not only is it his last, but it is one of the most dedicated groups he’s coached.
“I was telling some of the coaches that this is one of the hardest working groups we’ve had,” said Driscoll, who is stepping away from track to spend more time with his family. “They never complained and they just went about their business every day and it makes going to practice a lot of fun.”
It’s that sort of attitude that payed off for many of the Panthers.
Senior captain Billy Martell embodied selflessness and hard work. Already one of the best sprinters in the Patriot League, Martell took on the shot put, and flourished.
“At the beginning of the year we circled the shot put and said, ‘I don’t know how we’ll be,’” recalled Driscoll. “He goes, ‘Nah, I’ll be alright.’”
He was alright, finishing sixth at the Patriot League championships with a throw of over 41-feet-1 1/2 inches. Junior Pat Bui was another sprinter who took on the shot put, finishing eighth at the Patriot League championships with a throw of 37-feet-8 inches.
“He had a great season,” said Driscoll. “It was huge for us.”
Senior Kyle O’Brien burst onto the scene for the Panthers, who finished 2-3, posting a career year, capped by a ninth-place performance in the 600-meter run in the Div. 3 championships with a time of 1:28.35.
“He stepped it up,” said Driscoll. “He told us before the year that he was going to have a good year and he really worked his tail off to be good and it was awesome to see. Meet after meet he would get better and better. He was dedicated to his craft.”
Crossovers from cross country in sophomore Theo Kamperides and junior Brandon Hager were huge for the Panthers. Kamperides had a pair of wins in the 2-mile run.
“He was a great addition to the winter team,” Driscoll said of Kamperides. “He carried it over from the great pace that he had and he had a really good year. He ran with everybody and never backed down.”
Hager starred in the 1-mile run.
“Brandon had a lot of depth,” Driscoll said. “He’s just kind of tapping the surface of how good he can be as a runner. I really feel like those kids are going to jell in the fall. He works so hard in the races that you just see it in the guys he’s racing like, ‘Oh boy this guy’s not going to go away.’ And he doesn’t. He’s got a lot of depth.”
Driscoll said the highlight of the winter came Jan. 4 in a 51-48 victory over Pembroke, where the 4×200 relay team of Bui, Martell, fellow seniors Sean Kukauskas and Nic Fernandes clinched the win.
“That was a huge win for us,” Driscoll said. “That was a big night for the kids. [Pembroke] is someone we all respect in the track world, and to beat them was a cool thing.”
While Driscoll won’t be back next season, he said he believes the program only get better.
“I think they’re in good shape,” Driscoll said. “I think they’ll continue to grow. I think they’ll continue to get better and the numbers will grow.
“I told all the coaches, ‘I’m always going to be pushing Whitman-Hanson track. It’s in my blood forever and anything I can do to help them I will.’”