Bradford Huskies in the Press
Bradford Huskies receive grant - Haverhill Gazette (11/30/11)The Bradford Huskies cross country team was one of ten schools to receive a $500 grant as part of the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K program. The team was randomly selected to receive a grant and qualified to be eligible for the grant by having 25 or more of their students run in the Downtown 5K in Providence, RI. Huskies will use the grant money to enhance their running program.
The Huskies consist of kids in grades 4-8 from Bradford Elementary School and the Hunking Middle School and are led by Bradford Elementary fifth-grade teacher Matthew Castonguay. The program has a cross country team in the winter, and a track and field team during the spring and has sent several runners from both sports to the National Championships.
CVS Caremark presented approximately $75,000 in grants to nearly 50 youth-focused nonprofit organizations and schools from Southern New England. Most of the schools and organizations that received grants provided volunteers to assist with tasks during the 2011 CVS Caremark Downtown 5K last month.
The team started in 2006 as an intramural sport for just fourth- and fifth-graders, and they would compete against their classmates at Winnekenni Park. Once they graduated from elementary school, the kids would continue to want to run, and the program was expanded to include middle-schoolers as well.
After a year of the intramural meets, the team decided to branch outside Haverhill in 2007 and compete in meets in several local cities including Boston, Gloucester and in the New England meet in Amherst, N.H.
Four years later, the team currently has about 40 kids on it and there is never a problem in finding kids who want to join.
"It's about finding that group of kids that want to run," said Matthew Castonguay, who leads the program. "Just like you have a group who want to play soccer, or basketball, I have a group of kids who want to run and they love running."
Castonguay, who is also a fifth-grade teacher at Bradford Elementary School, takes the opportunity to teach these kids other important values such as sportsmanship and nutrition, which are sometimes overlooked during the rigors of a competition.
"They end up taking a whole lot of responsibility being on the team," he said. "They know to be stretching and doing their warm-ups on their own. It's a really good group that wants to run and they thrive on it."
Not every kid was infatuated with the sport right away though.
"My mom kind of forced me to do it," said sixth-grader Gabrielle Sanchez.
Sanchez eventually fell in love with the sport, and she has been one of the team's best athletes. She is also part of the Huskies' track and field team in the spring and qualified for the national championships in shot put this past year.
The team will travel to Florida for the third straight year in December to compete in the AAU National Cross Country Championships. The boys team took home the silver medal in that competition in 2009
"It was a really cool experience," said seventh-grader Troy Sliney. "It was fun, but very challenging at the same time.
Sliney also runs for the track and field team in the spring and between the two sports has competed in Richmond, Va., Reno, Nev., and Birmingham, Ala.
This year, the Huskies have continued that success as they prepare for the bigger meets. The 10-and-under boys won the Mayor's Cup in Boston last month, and the girls team placed third in the North Shore Championships in Gloucester this past weekend, despite their top three girls only being in sixth grade.
For the first time this year, the Huskies have runners who are in their fifth and final year with the team. That accomplishment allows Castonguay to look back and see how their runners have grown.
"There's a huge difference from fourth grade to eighth grade," said Castonguay. "To see them grow, not only in their running, but socially and academically is important, too."
Nationals next for Bradford runners
The Eagle Tribune - Nov 23, 2010
The Bradford Huskies 11-12 year-old boys team came in second place at the USA Track & Field Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships in Burrillville, R.I., over the weekend to qualify for the nationals in Hoover, Ala., on Dec. 11. The team finished in second place behind Waltham. The Huskies came in fourth at the previous week's New England championships on the same course but leap frogged two teams to finish in second place in the regionals despite the addition of more teams from outside New England. Jacob Seavey led the Huskies with a 11:10 on the 3K course and he was followed by five other Huskies who broke 12 minutes. They were Joe Weston (11:17), Troy Sliney (11:26), Aidan Wertz (11:46), Griffin Woolbert (11:55) and Tommy Tretter (11:56). Also running well were Mark Hanedanian (12:07) and Cooper Gibbs (12:32). In addition, Madison Craven, age 10, qualified for nationals from the girls team, with a time of 13:19. She improved her time by six seconds from the previous week on the same course.
Runners from Bradford schools set pace in races
The inaguaral Bradford Elementary 5K Road Race, 5K Fitness Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run for Kids took place on Sunday, Nov. 8 beginning at 12:30 p.m. There were fun activities on Bradford Common until 4 p.m., including live music, food, a bounce house and a dunk tank.
Registration was $20 for each of the 5K events and $10 for the Fun Run. All proceeds benefit Bradford Huskies Cross Country and Bradford Elementary School.
Haverhill youth runners break records
The Hunking Middle School girls and boys cross country teams, led by coaches Maria Godfrey and Jennifer Murphy, won the annual city cross country meet at Winnekenni Park on Oct. 5.
Runners from the girls team swept first- through fifth-place. The boys placed first, fourth and fifth. These finishes qualified them to earn the trophy for both events.
Middle school cross country races are 1.4 kilometers.
The top five girls times were:
Meghan Broderick, Hunking, 9 minutes, 31 seconds
Abby Nauffts, Hunking, 9:56
Riley Gilmore, Hunking, 10:09
Jacey Rowel, Hunking, 10:16
Avery Edy-Holmes, Hunking, 10:21
The top five boys times were:
Harrison Gigliotti, Hunking, 9:08
Kade Call, Whittier, 9:18
Tyler Gibbs, Hunking, 9:40
Brian McGlashan, Hunking, 9:43
Jared Zenga, Whittier, 9:53
Fourth- and fifth-grade cross country runners also competed in a city-wide meet on Sept. 30. Three boys from Bradford Elementary School each broke the course record of 7 minutes, 40 seconds. Bradford runners swept the top five times in the boys race. Two girls also broke the course record of 8:12 in the girls race.
The top five boys times were:
Troy Sliney, Bradford Elementary, 7:20
Joey Weston, Bradford Elementary, 7:29
Jacob Seavey, Bradford Elementary, 7:31
Griffen Woolbert, Bradford Elementary, 7:48
Cooper Gibbs, Bradford Elementary, 7:49
The top five girls times were:
Krystiana Swaize, Pentucket Lake, 7:58
Jenna Solimine, Silver Hill, 8:05
Madeline Buco, 9:14
Madison Craven, Bradford Elementary, 9:19
Abigayle Boiselle, Bradford Elementary, 9:22
'Mr. C' grooming Haverhill's future stars
On Cross Country
Dave Dyer - Eagle Tribune - November, 2008
Make no mistake about it, Matt Castonguay is not the type of guy who likes to idly sit back and observe.
Only 26, he is not only a fifth-grade teacher at Bradford Elementary School, but he works in promotions for the Boston Bruins, attending every home game, and is the director of the Groveland Summer Recreation Program.
A graduate of Pentucket High, where he ran cross country for longtime coach Steve Meline, Castonguay definitely likes to stay busy. He also believes youngsters should stay busy, and in a constructive way at that.
As his school's cross country coach, he was distressed to discover that the middle school season in Haverhill ended with the mid-October city meet at Winnekenni Park.
"Generally, kids would run a few days a week and then run in a couple of meets and that would be it," said Castonguay, who his students affectionately call "Mr. C."
"There was hardly enough time to get in shape. It seemed to me that kids would want to do more."
Thus, two years ago, Castonguay made a proposal to the administration to extend the season for a month, and — following the city meet — to combine the Bradford (fourth- and fifth-graders) and Hunking (sixth to eighth-graders) teams into one. With the provision that parents pay a small fee to help with costs, the idea was accepted.
So, five days a week, Hunking runners are bused to Bradford for a practice that runs from 3 to 4:15 p.m., which is plenty of time to get a lot accomplished. After the students run an average of two miles, Castonguay varies their workouts from hill work to sprints to circuit training, making sure that he offers an interesting variety.
"The kids are dedicated and they're hungry for more," said Castonguay. "I'm happy that we're able to offer this because a lot of kids don't understand cross country until they try it, but then they generally love it."
In addition to grooming future runners, Castonguay uses the time as a learning experience. He advises on nutrition, injury prevention and treatment and about what it means to be a member of a team.
Moreover, the team of about 40 strong gears for at least three extra meets. It went to a middle school invitational in Gloucester, where the boys finished seventh out of 18 teams and the girls came in fifth. They then went to the Mayor's Cup in Boston, where the boys were first out of 11 teams and the girls came in fourth.
Sunday, Bradford will compete in the Junior Olympics in Burrillville, R.I., in the New England Championships with a chance to advance to the Eastern Championships the following week.
Already, there are promising runners like fourth graders Troy Sliney and Joey Weston, but Castonguay's main goal is to promote the sport throughout the city.
"When we were at Gloucester, one of the coaches asked why more Haverhill schools don't have a program like we do," said Castonguay. "I wanted to make sure our program worked before I did anything else, but I definitely want to spread the word."
This is all good news for Haverhill High cross country coach Mike Maguire, as well as other coaches in the region. But even if Castonguay's program does not serve as a massive feeder program, it has become an admirable entity all its own.