Girls Indoor Track Captures the Patriot League Title for the 6th Straight Year with New Coach

Seniors Emma Mills (left) and Lizzy Blackwood lead a team that went undefeated in the regular season and won their 6th straight league title.

February 8, 2023 – Story by Joshua Ross and Mark Blaudschun,  photos by Joshua Ross

First year head coach Bob Ritz knew he was inheriting a good team, but even a 6-0 record and Patriot League Keenan Division title might have been a little beyond his expectations.  The girls indoor track team didn’t skip a beat and captured their sixth straight regular season title last week and competed an undefeated season.  While the team might be smaller than usual, Ritz has the perfect mix of seasoned veterans and talented youth to make it all work.

First year head coach Bob Ritz (courtesy photo).

“This is a very experienced team that has helped lead this team to another Keenan Division title,” Ritz explains.  “They have been the foundation of this team for the last couple of years. We have had some underclassmen step up and play huge roles in the absence of athletes who have been ill and injured. These athletes will help be the foundation for the next couple of years.”

That foundation is a luxury for any new coach.  Before taking over head coaching responsibilities a few months ago, Ritz was the assistant boys head coach for years before moving over to be the assistant coach for the girls under recently retired Dawn Diedricksen in 2021.

Like many coaches in the area, Ritz’s calendar is full. He lives in Rockland, teaches in Braintree and coaches in Hingham. His background is pure New England, growing up in Simsbury, Ct. going to college at Springfield (Ma.) and then morphing into the educational, athletic system in the Southshore at Braintree.

Senior Katherine Van Buskirk competed in the 55m dash at last year’s Patriot League Championship meet.

The move from assistant to head coach has also been virtually seamless.

“Lots of good people helping me out,”Ritz says.”That really helps if you are teaching in one place and coaching in another. But the people here are solid, we have great girls and things things have been going well.”

The transition has also been seamless because of the strong leadership of seniors like Margaret Lowther and Kelsey Tarby.  Both have seen benefits of the new dynamic of a smaller team this year.

“The smaller team size this year has allowed for more individualized 1 on 1 training,” Lowther says. “There has been a strong team connection this season.”

Kelsy adds that with the reduced size of the team “there has had to be more athletes to try different events. It is awesome to see athletes try new events and succeed in them.”

The season is far from over after this weekend’s Patriot League Championships.  There are divisional, state, New England, and national championship races.  So far, five runners have qualified for nationals – Tarby in the 600m and 4×400 relay, Lowther in the 4×400 relay, senior Emma Mills in the 60m hurdles, junior Sarah Kelly, and sophomore Claire Lowther.

This schedule will keep the team and Ritz busy up until spring season.  The only uncertainty is what happens once the winter season ends.

“There’s about a week in between the end of the states and the start of the outdoor season in March,” said Ritz. “I’m still have the interim tag as coach, but I hope to talk to Jim (Quatromoni) about that.”

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