Fast feet and a little luck take track team over finish line

Feb 12, 2023

NEW BEDFORD — Wareham High School senior Fredi Gakidis got a medal for winning a game of Rock Paper Scissors.

Okay, it was more complicated than that. 

Gakidis, who is on the High School’s indoor track team, tied for fourth place in the girls high jump event at the Southcoast Conference Winter Track and Field Championships, held at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School on Saturday, Feb. 11. 

To settle the tie, Gakidis and her opponent played Rock Paper Scissors.

“It feels pretty awesome,” she said. “I was happy just to tie in fourth place, but even happier that I won Rock Paper Scissors.” 

Gakidis breathlessly detailed both her Rock Paper Scissors victory and her 1.37-meter jump.

“It’s really exciting in the moment,” she said about the latter. “The buildup, waiting at your mark. A lot of adrenaline happens, and when I’m actually jumping, I don’t even realize it in the moment.”

Several Wareham High School students finished the night with medals and spots in the state finals, which will take place in Boston on Thursday, Feb. 16. All of them attributed their victories to Head Coach Chris Gardner. 

“I have a ton of kids that are really hard workers,” Gardner said. “They’re very accountable. They challenge themselves, they don’t settle, they’re always pushing themselves.” 

Senior Gabriel Silva won second place in the boys 55-meter dash with a time of 6.82 seconds, and in the boys 300-meter dash with a time of 39.34 seconds.

“It just goes to show the work that us and our coaches put into it this season,” said Silva, who has done track for five years. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes.”

Silva’s teammate Aiden Robert calls him “Lightning McQueen,” not just for his speed, but his penchant for wearing Crocs shaped like the Pixar character. 

Robert, a junior, came in second place in the boys 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.21 seconds.

“It feels like a privilege,” he said. 

This is Robert’s second year doing track. 

“I was not really good, he said, “but Gardner kept on pushing me to get better. Finally, I’m here. I have a medal on my neck.” 

At last year’s state finals, he came close to third place, and a spot in the All-State finals, but didn’t make it.

“I hope not to mess up again this time,” he said. 

When freshman Sienna Cabe came in first place in the girls 55-meter hurdles with a time of 9.70 seconds, she credited the win to her teammate Alexis Pettersen.

“She’s always there for me,” Cabe said.

Pettersen, a junior, came in fourth place in the girls 55-meter hurdles with a time of 10.24 seconds. 

“I’ve been training since November for this,” she said. “It feels really rewarding.”

Sophomore Jayla Fernandes came in fifth place in the girls 300-meter dash, with a time of 47.55 seconds. 

Senior Marina Cadena came in third place in the girls shot put event, throwing the ball 10.35 meters.

Wareham came in sixth place in the girls 4x400-yard relay, with a time of five minutes and 21.90 seconds. 

Gardner said that his students make his job easy and fun.

“I’m privileged to be able to coach these kids,” he said. “I have a great group of kids, I feel blessed every day that I get to come and work at Wareham.”