NORWELL — When Dennis-Yarmouth sophomore Breanna Braham looked up at the clock following her winning 200-meter dash, she could not believe what she saw.
In a loaded field at Thursday’s opening leg of the MIAA Division 5 state championships at Norwell High School, the budding star not only dethroned Norton’s highly-accomplished duo of Ali Murphy and Jillian Strynar for the first time in her career, but her sparkling 24.87-second effort shattered her personal best by over a half-second.
“I was shocked,” Braham said of her winning time. “When I came here, my goal was just to get first and beat Ali and Jillian. They are such great runners … But I’ve always wanted to break 25 [seconds]. So it feels awesome to know that hard work paid off.”
After finishing third in the 55-meter dash and fourth in the 300-meter run at February’s Division 5 Indoor Championships, Braham is undefeated this spring season and continues to climb the hierarchy of Bay State sprinters.
Norton’s talented senior Murphy — who won the 200-meter at both the Division 5 Championship (25.85) and Meet of Champions (24.87) last outdoor season — also set her season-best mark (25.15) on Thursday, but still suffered her first loss of the outdoor circuit because of Braham’s dominant performance.
“I’m just so happy to be running against her and see that she’s pulled ahead so much,” Murphy said of Braham. “It’s amazing to see her growth last season and now this season, because it feels like she keeps getting better every time I see her.”
▪ Dover Sherborn junior Matt Rooney held a slim lead over Weston’s Ben Tavares as he rounded the final turn of the boys’ 800-meter run, when he heard an eyebrow-raising voice from the crowd.
“I heard someone go ‘Reel him in, reel him in,’” Rooney recounted. “I said, ‘Oh, shoot. He’s gonna get me.’ And then just the mentality of ‘I can’t lose’ kicked in. And I just gave everything I could that last 100 meters.”
The final charge was enough to power Rooney to a first-place finish and personal-best time (1:57.48), as he emphatically pumped his arms across the finish line. Rooney has plenty of experience pushing from behind — his previous 800-meter PR (1:58.50) came in a 60th-place finish at March’s New Balance Indoor Nationals — but credits his mindset for Thursday’s pace-setting effort.
“I don’t see any difference between any of these races, whether it’s a dual meet or nationals or anything else,” said Rooney. “I just have the same objective every single time, and I want to show what I can do.”
▪ With six of the meet’s 18 total events completed on the first day of competition, Pentucket (32 points) held a slight 9-point lead over Groton-Dunstable (23 points) on the boys’ side behind Yanni Kakouris’s second-place finish in the 200-meter (22.61) and William Pessina’s second-place finish in the discus throw (142 feet, 6 inches).
North Reading (31 points) led the girls’ competition over Weston (25), the defending D5 girls’ champion, behind Giuliana Ligor’s winning effort in the 400-meter hurdles (1:03.73) and Madison Vant’s victory in the pentathlon (3,011 points).
MIAA Division 5 Championship
at Norwell High School
200m — 1. John Morgan, Randolph, 0:22.45; 2. Yanni Kakouris, Pentucket, 0:22.61; 3. Nathan Miller, North Reading, 0:22.63.
400m hurdles — 1. Sam Balsis, Old Rochester, 0:57.68; 2. Duante Ambersely, Dennis-Yarmouth, 0:58.54; 3. Andrew Fortin, Bishop Stang, 0:58.8.
800m — 1. Matt Rooney, Dover-Sherborn, 1:57.48; 2. Ben Tavares, Weston, 1:58.16; 3. Caleb White, Norwell, 1:58.5.
2-mile — 1. Neil Aradhya, Groton-Dunstable, 9:31.51; 2. Zak Metzger, Groton-Dunstable, 9:32.58; 3. Dennis Love, Lenox, 9:33.9.
Triple jump — 1. Parker Burns, Triton, 44 feet 2 inches; 2. Nathan Monteiro, Cardinal Spellman, 43-7.5; 3. Noah Schifano, North Reading, 42-9.25.
Discus — 1. Ari Levine, Hopedale, 146 feet 5 inches; 2. William Pessina, Pentucket, 142-6; 3. Griffin Pratt, Dennis-Yarmouth, 137-11.
Pentathlon — 1. Nathan Askjaer, Cohasset, 2717 points; 2. Ryan Hayes, Hopedale, 2528; 3. Stratton Seymour, Pentucket, 2495.
200m — 1. Breanna Braham, Dennis-Yarmouth, 0:24.87; 2. Ali Murphy, Norton, 0:25.15; 3. Jillian Strynar, Norton, 0:26.04.
400m hurdles — 1. Giuliana Ligor, North Reading, 1:03.73; 2. Sophia Lesinski, Triton, 1:05.29; 3. Morgan Hayward, Apponequet, 1:06.57.
800m — 1. Reilly Nussbaum, Cohasset, 2:17.44; 2. Brenna Sears, Pope Francis, 2:19.07; 3. Siena Lauze, Dennis-Yarmouth, 2:22.58.
2-mile — 1. Olivia Jackson, Weston, 11:16.62; 2. Alice Culver, Lenox, 11:20.26; 3. Annalise Butler, North Reading, 11:23.28.
Triple jump — 1. Lily MacDonald, Norwell, 36 feet 3.25 inches; 2. Teagan Wilson, Triton, 35-8.5; 3. Laura Hubert, Fairhaven, 35-4.
Discus — 1. Catherine Sargent, Dedham, 124 feet 4 inches; 2. Charity Johnson, Medway, 112-9; 3. Anastasia Hayes, Swampscott, 112-8.
Pentathlon — 1. Madison Vant, North Reading, 3011 points; 2. Lily MacDonald, Norwell, 2942; 3. Natalie Mutschler, Hanover, 2635.
At Westfield State University, West Bridgewater junior Ella Dunbury won the 2-mile run with a time of 11 minutes, 35.20 seconds. Hamilton-Wenham sophomore Georgia Wilson championed the triple jump with a leap of 36 feet, 5 inches.
In boys’ action, Wareham junior Diego Mello won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 58.00 seconds. Archbishop Williams freshman Amir Chapman stood atop the podium in the triple jump, winning with a leap of 42-11.
Correspondent Cam Kerry contributed to this story.