Most people know that Hershey’s Chocolate has been making chocolate and confections for over 100 years, but for a few Winchester athletes, the name Hershey’s now conjures up the sweet smell of victory.


      On Saturday, runners from across the state of Massachusetts, including 31 Winchester athletes, gathered in Hudson to compete in the 35th annual Hershey’s State Track Meet. Part of the larger Hershey’s Track and Field Program, whose hundreds of thousands of participants make it the largest youth sports program of its kind in North America, this meet was the second stop for some of Winchester’s best runners, jumpers, and throwers.

   In order to qualify this meet, athletes first competed in a local track meet that tested their speed, endurance, and agility on June 6 in Winchester. From there, the top Winchester times and distances were submitted to Hershey’s Chocolate, and then the top 16 athletes in each event from across the state were invited to participate in Saturday’s games.

    “We’ve never seen such a talented group of athletes compete in this meet. Each of the athletes who represented Winchester should be very proud of their accomplishments,” said coach Ken Tully. Certainly, truer words couldn’t have been spoken. Of the 42 events held at the meet, Winchester athletes took first place in nine events, second in four events, and third in seven events.

“Every time I looked up there was another Winchester athlete dominating the competition. It was very impressive,” said fellow coach Shane Tully.

For first place finishers, Cate Kneebone (girls 9/10 standing long jump), Nathalia Sakorafos (girls 9/10 softball throw), Patrick Dooley (boys 9/10 400 meters), John Paul Marino (boys 9/10 softball throw), Justin Ong (boys 11/12 long jump), Madeleine Muller (girls 13/14 1,600), Nate Ruffle-Deignan (boys 13/14 100), Jacob Zuch (boys 13/14 1,600), and Joseph Wong (boys 13/14 standing long jump), this may not be the end of their successes on the track.

As the top athletes in Massachusetts, their results will now be compared with other athletes in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, to see if they will be able to be among the 480 athletes that will compete at the North American Final in Hershey Park, Pennsylvania in August. Whether they qualify for the team or not, these Winchester athletes now know that there are few things sweeter than victory.

Read more: Winchester athletes excel at Hershey state track meet - Winchester, MA - The Winchester Star