By Nate Leveille
The only thing that disappointed in the 2021 D2 Track and field championships was the weather. 45 degrees and raining in late May is not what we would expect. Host school Pelham High School, Lancer Timing, and the state officials did an excellent job running the meet despite the inclement weather. However, on the track and in the fields the temperature was pure fire.
The girls got things started off in the morning. A two hour meet delay was still not enough time to avoid hard rains and a head wind. On paper it was a three team race for the D2 title between Coe Brown, Milford, and Oyster River. Three very different teams on paper as Oyster River’s expected points were in the hurdles and sprints, Milford was supposed to score an amazing 81 points in the field events, and Coe-Brown was spread out across almost all the events.
Coe-Brown was victorious in the 4×800 without using distance star Addison Cox. The 4×800 was moved up earlier in the meet to allow athletes to double and triple. The foursome of Bella Lemay, Olivia Noni, Cadence Howard and Tessa Millette held off the challenge from Oyster River and secured the win in 10:21.84.
Ella Maclean of Hanover came into the finals of the 100 as the two seed behind Aida Wheat of Kennett. After an unfortunate false start by Wheat in the finals, Maclean was able to hold off Tara Smoker of Plymouth for the victory.
Charlotte Cousins of Oyster River continued her dominant season in the hurdles. She dominated the field in route to her victory in 16.11 into a strong head wind. Second was Katherine Luehrs of Plymouth Regional. Suddenly Plymouth had entered the team picture with back to back runner up performances.
Addison Cox’s first leg of the triple crown attempt started in the 1600m. Unsure about how the race would play out Cox left little doubt as she charged to the front and built a sizable lead on Chloe Trudel of Souhegan and Sophia Reynolds of Merrimack Valley. It would stay that way for the rest of the race as Cox got the win in 5:11 ahead of Trudel (5:18) and Reynolds (5:22).
In one of the most exciting races of the meet Plymouth Regional, Pelham, and Hanover battled to the line in the 4×100. It was Smoker and Plymouth able to hold off Pelham on their home track to get the win in 52.31 to Pelham’s 52.63. A charging Maclean led Hanover to third in 52.77.
The 400m featured a bunch of girls separated by only a couple of seconds on paper. It was Mia Hricz of Oyster River securing the win and the 10 team points in a time of 1:01.97. Runner-up was Isabella Lemay of Coe Brown and third was Jennifer Nadig of Oyster River. At this point in the meet it looked to be a 3 way battle between Plymouth, Coe Brown, and Oyster River as the track was moving along much faster than the field events.
Ella Stasko of Oyster River kept the Bobcats title hopes alive with another event win in the 300 hurdles in 48.65. Coe-Brown has the answer with a runner-up performance from Olivia Noni. Sophie Reynolds of MV took 3rd in one of the more unlikely 1600-300h doubles.
800 Meter Run
Addison Cox was back on the track for leg two of her triple crown attempt. This race figured to be her most difficult to win on paper with Windham star Abby Hughes waiting with fresh legs. Abby was up to the challenge as she took the lead on the second lap and answered all of Addison’s moves on the back stretch. She displayed a strong finishing kick to get the win in 2:18.24 over Cox (2:20.52) and Amy Burton of Kennett (2:25.57). The New Hampshire Track and field announcers voted this the race of the day.
Aida Wheat avenged her false start in the 200m as she blasted to the lead and stayed there for good, securing her first state title. I think most everyone in attendance was rooting for this to happen. Following her It was Smoker again with another runner-up performance for Plymouth.
Cox was back to work in the 3200. Favored by more than a minute over the two seed, she cruised to an easy victory in 11:11.61. Finishing second was Reynolds of Merrimack Valley, who quietly had a nice unconventional triple of her own with two thirds and this runner up performance.
The last event on the track was the 4×400. With not all the field event results in and the Pole vault having not even started due to the pouring rain, it was all hands on deck. Oyster River flexed their long sprinting strength and got the win in (4:18.62) over Kingswood (4:20.65) and third place finisher Windham (4:24).
Milford got to work in the field events with Renee Wilson getting the double win in both the long jump and triple jump. She won the long in 16’10.75” outdistancing her teammate Sarah Sawyer by 3 inches. In third in the long jump was Katherine Luehrs of Plymouth, who was quietly having a big meet of her own. Wilson got the win in the triple jump with a distance of 32’5.25”. It was Anushka Chavda of Coe-Brown coming in second and Sawyer of Milford in third.
The discus may have been the most difficult event to compete in on the day with a very wet circle. Athletes were having a hard time getting a grip of the disc in the raw, wet conditions. Despite the weather Natalie Riley of Coe-Brown was able to bomb a throw of 102’3” to get the win. Runner up was Rachel Gizzonio of Milford with a throw of 97’8”. Sierra Parson of Kennett finished third. In the Shot is was Riley getting the win with her very first throw, a distance of 32’8.75”. Samantha Meier of Plymouth was second in 32’3.75” and third was Gizzonio of Milford. In the javelin, it was Meier of Plymouth getting the win with an incredible throw of 114’8” in the rainy conditions. Gizzonio was runner-up completing an amazing throwing triple of her own. Lily Curtis of Pembroke finished third.
Leslie McGrath of Milford was not bothered by the rain in the high jump clearing 5’2” for the win. Behind her was Isabella Hastings of Lebanon and Kaylen Lachapelle of Sanborn both clearing 4’8”. The Pole Vault was the last contested event as officials waited for the rain to pass to safely contest the event. It was Coe-Brown sweeping the podium with Olivia Buzzell getting the win, clearing 8’0”. Josephine Malloy was runner up also clearing 8’0” and Makena Lee was third.
When the dust settled in the team race Coe-Brown found themselves comfortably ahead with a team total of 123 points. The Bears flexed their depth across events scoring in all but three events. The real battle was for second place between Milford, Oyster River, and Plymouth. Milford (78) was able to score enough points to hold on for second place with their amazing field event performances. Oyster River (70) had just enough to hold on to third over Plymouth (66) who put together one heck of a meet. Windham (29) rounded out the top 5 team scores.
Shortly after the conclusion of the girls meet the boys meet began. On paper this was a tight meet between both Coe-Brown and Windham. Windham had the strength of three of the state’s top sprinters versus Coe-Brown, a nationally ranked distance program.
The meet started out with the two favorites going head to head in the 4×800. Coe-Brown was the top seed, but with their top two distance guys already lining up for big meets used their depth in the relay. It was Windham getting the win in 8:22.25, Coe-Brown was runner up in 8:26.61, and Bow was third in 8:27.56.
Heavy favorite Jackson Bomba of Windham did not disappoint in the high hurdles. He won in a time of 15.46, but was challenged by James Dupuis of Pembroke (15.62). Treven Leek of Sanborn was third in 16.26. Windham secured 10 more important team points.
Windham’s sprinting crew went to work in the 100 meter dash advancing three runners into the finals. Seth Baylus of Merrimack Valley had other ideas and blasted to victory in the 100 with a time of 11.06. He was followed by Landon Neal of Windham (11.39) and Michael Curtin of Hollis Brookline (11.43). Windham secured another 14 team points and had a commanding lead in the team standings.
The next event on the track was the anticipated 1600 meter run between Luke Tkaczyk of Coe-Brown and Rohan Rai of Windham. Knowing they both had many races ahead of them on the day as a spectator, we were unsure if it would be a fast race or tactical. It was both! After Aidan Cox pulled the field through an honest first 3 laps in 3:15, Tkaczyk and Rai blasted the first 200 of the final lap. Tkaczyk held off Rau prior to the final turn and pushed to the finish line in a new D2 record time of 4:15.23. Rai finished with a new school record 4:18.20 and he was followed by Cox of Coe Brown 4:21.96. Coe-Brown secured 16 team points and Windham 12 in this event. Windham still maintained a comfortable lead.
Next on the track was the 4×100 and the Windham sprinters blistered around the track in a winning time of 43.99. Milford finished second and Lebanon finished third. 10 more points for the Jaguars.
At this point in the meet the first round of field events had finished. Arguably the best athlete in the state Max Lussier of Sanborn won the Javelin with a heave of 146’7”. He bested his teammate Nick Lucas by less than a foot. Coming in third was Ryan Nicholls of Bow. In the High Jump, Lussier of Sanborn won his second event of the day clearing 6’2”. Coming in second was Ian Solberg of Hanover and in third was his teammate Derek Lacy also of Hanover.
In the shot put James Dupuis of Pembroke got the win with a distance of 47’10”. Coming in second was Antonio Kapos of Goffstown (45’4.5”) and in third was Ezra Dawling of Souhegan (44’10.25”). In the other early field event, the long jump, it was Curtis Shattuck of Windham winning with a leap of 20’8.75” over Anders Larson of Coe-Brown (19’7.34”) and David Harley of Kingswood (19’6.5”).
Next on the track was the 400 meter run. Porter Heigis of Coe-Brown blasted out to the early lead but would have to settle for second as Connor Watchsmuth of Bow used a strong last 100 to win in a time of 51.22. Heigis was second in 52.05 and John Kotelly of Hollis Brookline was third in 53.23. Coe-Brown secured 9 points chipping away at the massive (at this point) Windham lead.
Bomba of Windham was back to work in the 300 hurdles. He took control of the race with two barriers to go and had enough to hold on in a winning time of 41.55. Derek Lacy of Hanover finished second in 42.34 and Brady Ash of Sanborn finished third. 11 more points for Windham.
In my personal pick for race of the day Owen Fleischer of Oyster River made anyone doubling in the 800 meters pay with a punishing first lap. Fleischer went through 400 meters in 54 seconds and while everyone was waiting for the refrigerator to jump on his back during the last 100 meters he held form and led wire to wire in a winning time of 1:56.83. Coming in second and doubling back was Tkaczyk of Coe Brown (1:58.15) holding off a charging Caleb Korthals of Milford (1:59.46). Coe-Brown secured 9 points while Windham scored 2.
Next on the track was another sprint event. Baylus of Merrimack Valley was able to secure his second win of the day in 22.65, but following him were Cerami, Neal and Manti all of Windham. 18 more team points for Windham, but Coe-Brown’s Hogan Cain squeezed in a 6th place for 1 point.
Coe-Brown’s last chance to get into the meet was to do something historic in the 3200. They had 6 of the 12 competitors in the race, but former state champ Andy O’Brien of Oyster River was running his first race of the day. O’Brien went to the front and set a punishing pace as Cox and Tkaczyk tried to hang on. As Tkaczyk faded, Cox threw in a massive move (65 second 5th lap) and broke O’Brien. Cox cruised to the finish in a D2 record time of 9:17.38. O’Brien (9:41.15) was picked off by Carter Sylvester of Coe Brown (9:29.95) on the last lap rounding out the top 3. O’Brien also was the only non Coe-Brown athlete to score in the 3200 as Coe- Brown secured 25 points giving them a slight chance at the team title.
The last event on the track was the 4×400. At this point Windham and Coe-Brown athletes were running on fumes and it appeared both teams had at least one sub in the relay. Hanover used this to their advantage as they took the lead on the second leg and held off a charging Coe-Brown and Windham for the win in a time of 3:38.65. Coe-Brown on Tkaczyk’s 4th event of the day finished as runner up in 3:39.35. Windham finished 3rd with a time of 3:39.46. At this point in the meet the score was Windham 103 and Coe- Brown 87. Field events still needed to be finished and scored.
Pole Vault, Discus, and Triple jump still needed to be scored. In the pole vault, it was Lussier of Sanborn getting his third win of the day clearing 13 feet. He was followed by Parker Eaton of Coe Brown (11’6”) and Travis Martins of Manchester West (10’6”). Coe- Brown score 9 points in the event making the score Windham 103 Coe Brown 96.
Next up was the Discus results. Peyton Strickland of Goffstown launched a state best 156’3” to secure the win over Caden Zelenski of Milford (140’5”) and David Hartley of Kingswood (134’7”). Coe-Brown scored 2 points upping their total to 98 points as Tanner Wotton placed 5th. Windham scored one point giving them 104 with one event left to score.
This might be the first state meet in history to come down to the triple jump and probably the last. John Kottely of Hollis-Brookline got the win (40’1.5”) but Anders Larson of Coe Brown (39’11”) and Jacob Cowan of Coe Brown (38’8.75”) finished 2-3 securing 14 points and propelling Coe Brown to the team championship in one of the best meets I have ever witnessed.
Congratulations to Coe-Brown Boys and Girls for sweeping the D2 championships as well as Windham boys and Milford girls for outstanding efforts all day long.