Belmont junior Joe Boles competes during the 1,000 meters at Dartmouth College’s Leverone Field House in the Division II state championship meet earlier this month. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
February 11, 2013BELMONT – Joe Boles made sure not to get too far behind. When the gap started to widen, he picked up his pace and ran faster. After chasing down his final competitor on the last lap, Boles held off a late charge with a lean at the line.
The Belmont High School junior had a day to remember on Feb. 3, as he passed two other runners in the final lap and a half to capture the NHIAA Division II Indoor Track state championship in the 1,000 meters at Dartmouth College's Leverone Field House. Boles, the top seed entering the race, outlasted 11 other runners in a crowded field to win his first state title.
"It felt really good, to accomplish something like that," recalled Boles last week. "It felt good to have the community and the school behind me like they were. I kept hearing from people wishing me good luck before the race so that made it nice."
Boles' time of 2 minutes, 37.38 seconds set a new school record at Belmont, and it was also just enough to edge out runner-up Sean Munnelly of Campbell (2:38.04). Munnelly made a dive at the line but fell short of Boles' time.
"Having 12 kids in one race was kind of tough because it was so packed," said Boles. "I wanted to get out quickly at the start. A Souhgean kid (Nathan Kittredge) got out to the lead and I just wanted to stay close to him. I was third after a couple laps but I felt confident because I knew I had my kick at the end to make up for it."
Boles began to make his move at the end of his fourth lap (the race is five laps). He didn't want to wait too long, as there were two runners to pass before the finish line. He managed to get Ben Finnigan of St. Thomas early in the lap, and he quickly overtook Kittredge as well. From there it was a sprint to the finish, with Munnelly staying on his tail the entire way. But Boles' late kick did the trick, and he crossed with the fastest time of the day, even faster than the winning time from the Division I championship.
"A lot of people think you can just go out and sprint the whole thing but you learn each year how to better run a race like this," Boles explained.
It was certainly an outstanding winter season for Boles, as he had a pair of first place finishes in the 1,000 meters during the regular season to earn the top seed at states. It was a far cry from last winter, when he struggled through shin injuries from the end of soccer season. The injury would plague him through the outdoor track season, but he did manage to finish third in the 800 meters at the state meet last spring.
Feeling healthy after helping the boys' soccer team to a Division III runner-up spot this fall, Boles was ready for a smoother ride through this year's track slate.
"Coach (John) Goegel and I sat down and wrote out some goals for the season," Boles began. "I wanted to make states in the 1,000 so to go out and win it was awesome."
The win secures Boles a spot at next month's New England High School championships at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston, scheduled for March 2. Boles isn't sure if he'll compete however, as the long layoff is a tough one for athletes to overcome.
"Indoor track is a lot tougher to train for than outdoor because of how different it is," Boles said. "This year you'll be outside running and it can be 50 degrees or there can be six inches of snow. You're more apt to get sick in the winter and there's just more that can get in the way."
Belmont's indoor team, while small in numbers, stayed focus throughout the winter. Joining Boles at the state championship meet was Rebecca Drew-Moyer, who qualified and competed in the shot put.
"We definitely had a dedicated group this year and they wanted to work hard and set goals for themselves," Boles explained. "You need to be focused because there's stretching in the hallways, running around the school and then outside. It's a little bit of everything, spread out training."
With the indoor season now behind him, Boles has his eyes set on a strong outdoor season. He'll likely compete in the 400 and 800 meters for the Red Raiders.
"Going into outdoor, there are goals I want to reach," he stated. "I feel pretty good physically and I feel good about where I'm at. I'm going to focus on the 400 and 800 and just try and do my best and continue to improve."