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Popusoi settles for third place

Greenfield pole-vaulter extraordinaire Vlad Popusoi had New England-title aspirations coming into Saturday's meet but settled for a respectable third. Recorder/file photo

Greenfield pole-vaulter extraordinaire Vlad Popusoi had New England-title aspirations coming into Saturday's meet but settled for a respectable third. Recorder/file photo Purchase photo reprints »

Vlad Popusoi’s high school career came to an end Saturday when the Greenfield High School pole-vaulter finished third at the New England Track & Field championships at Bridgewater State University.

Popusoi was joined by Pioneer Valley Regional School long-jumper Darion Sadri as the only two local athletes at the meet, and Sadri picked up a seventh-place finish.

Popusoi, the two-time All-State champion, came into the event as the top seed after clearing 15 feet, 6 inches Wednesday to win the resumption of the All-State event. That was a personal-best for Popusoi, who had never cleared that height and had hit 15 feet once before in his career. He came up just short of those marks Saturday with a height of 14-9, which left him in third place in New England. Joseph Fogarasi of Windham (Conn.) High School won the event at 15-3, while Kyle Baker of Essex (N.H.) High School came in second with a height of 14-9, but came in ahead of Popusoi based on jumps.

“I was a little bummed. The kid who took second beat me on jumps, he cleared it on his first try and I cleared it on my second,” Popusoi said. “I was a little rusty, I guess. But it’s been a great high-school career. I’ve won two state championships and set the meet record, which is pretty amazing.”

Popusoi will compete at Division I UMass-Lowell next season, when he hopes to continue soaring to higher heights. He said he would have never gotten to where he is without the help of Green Wave coach Stu Elliott.

“Stuart Elliott has been an awesome coach,” Popusoi praised. “I couldn’t have asked for a better one.”

As for Sadri, he was coming off a seventh-place finish at the All-State meet but made New England’s as an alternate when one of the finalists in the top six at All-States dropped out of the New Englands. Sadri took advantage of the opportunity, placing seventh in New England in the long jump at 21 feet, 1 inch, which is actually well short of his season-best mark of 22 feet, 91/ 4 inches that he hit at the Division II Central-West meet to set the meet record two weeks ago. A nagging heel injury may have hurt Sadri’s distance at each of the past two meets.

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