Most runners never get the chance to win a race at the famous Armory Track and Field Center in New York City. Haverhill resident Peter Crapsey Jr. accomplished that feat last month, and he did it at age 8.
Peter finished first in the 400-meter and 800-meter races at the Armory Youth Holiday Classic on Dec. 26. He beat out about 40 boys in his age group from across the Northeast and also finished second in the 200-meter race. In the 800-meter race, he finished over 10 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, with a personal best of 2:47.56.
"I wasn't surprised when I got first place," said Peter. "That was my goal going into the race."
The race at the Armory was not the biggest race Peter has competed in during his so-far brief career. Last summer, he traveled to Wichita, Kan., to compete in the Junior Olympics. Peter finished 15th in the 1500-meter, 11th in the 800-meter and 20th in the long jump out of about 200 kids.
Of all the races that he runs, the 1500-meter is his favorite because of its long distance. Peter uses tips that he learned from his father, Peter Crapsey a record setting runner at Haverhill High.
"He taught me not to sprint right off the start," said Peter. "You need to maintain a good speed throughout the race."
Peter started running early last year at the urging of his father.
"He started playing soccer when he was about 5 years old," said Crapsey. "I could see that he had the talent on the field. We always made jokes that he never gets tired. Most importantly, he enjoyed it and has done very well for himself.
Crapsey got Peter started last January. Peter trains at Northern Essex Community College, where his dad coaches him in indoor track. Peter also is a member of the Bradford Huskies. He ran cross-country with them in the fall and will likely also join their outdoor track team in the spring.
The Bradford Huskies typically only allow kids in grades four through eight to join but made an exception for Peter, a third-grader. Peter was one of two Huskies, along with Connor Alessi, to travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C. for the USA Track & Field National Cross Country Championships. Peter finished ninth in the 2K race with a time of 7:52.
Peter may not have been surprised at some of his top finishes in races, but he has exceeded the expectations of his father.
"His drive and knowledge of the sport is uncanny," said Crapsey. "He will sit down and actually watch a track meet. He'll talk through what the other competitors are doing. He really enjoys it a lot more than I ever imagined he would.
In addition to track and cross-country, Peter participates in several other sports, including flag football, soccer, baseball and swimming, but enjoys track most.
Even with all that he has accomplished, Peter still has his goals set as high as they could possibly go.
"I want to be a national champion," said Peter.
Peter will have to finish in the top eight at the regional competition in order to qualify again for the Junior Olympics. If he does that, he will be headed to Houston, Texas, where he will attempt to reach his goal.
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