By Mike Smith
Wow, what a meet(s!!) The girls half of the meet, while warm, was reasonable for late May. And things went like clockwork. Meeting the schedule to the second, Tuesday night’s meet finished up under fantastic conditions, allowing for the champions, Hopkinton to soak up the events of the day, relishing their championship moment. Not so for the boys Wednesday night meet, under the threat of severe thunderstorms and heat 15 degrees hotter than Tuesday. Some could say the pace of the meet was frenetic, with an earlier start and a target to get all the events in before the thunder and lightning began. The officiating crew was in high gear keeping the events rolling to provide the opportunity for all athletes to get their events in. And it almost happened, with only the triple jump and the high jump not making the cut before the heavens opened.
Like stated in the “Things to Watch”, this season made it really tough to figure out what to expect with such a large division and most teams competing regionally. Pressed to pick teams that might have the dogs to make a run for a team title, I stated Newfound, Kearsarge and Portsmouth Christian as girls team favorites. For the boys, I had Conant, Monadnock and Kearsarge. Boy was I ever wrong on the girls side, with Hopkinton winning with 68, Newfound second with 49, and Newport third by one point with 48.
On the boys side, as we wait for the boys meet to be finished up on Saturday between the Division 2 girls and boys meets, Newport leads by 14 over Kearsarge with 64 points. Monadnock is not far behind in third with 48, mostly on the backs of the State Champion cross country team, with Conant in fourth. While I had called Conant, Monadnock and Kearsarge to be in the hunt, I totally missed Newport (as I hadn’t seen them this season), who on the strength of their sprint/hurdle crew and led by the Lovely brothers (bluegrass/folk band in the making perhaps?).
Hopkinton made good on the day with with three wins, led by freshman Grace Hall in the long jump and triple jump, and the first event of the day, the 4×800. Hall also added some points in the 100, finishing third, and running a leg of the 4×100, contributing 30 points to the Hawks haul. Inexperienced with a championship styled meet, Hall took to the track and runways like a wily vet.
Wilton’s Sam Boette showed her mastery of the short distances, controlling both the 100 and 200 with winning times of 13.58 and 27.89, with the latter being a 0.02 second victory over Monadnock’s Liliana Chirichella.
Chirichella would also contest another close one in the 400, going up against PCA’s stud Brianna Malone. Malone, without the 4×800 meter record attempt in her legs would prevail, cracking the 60 second barrier, winning in 59.23 to a hard charging Chirichella.
In Malone’s second event, with the 400 meter effort in her legs, she would find herself crashing the finish line in the final 100 to finish up second to teammate Liza Corso that led from the gun, winning in 2:18.30. Corso was leaving nothing to chance in her first two races, stomping on the gas as soon as the starter fired the gun, winning the 1600 in 5:18.35. With the outcome firmly in hand, Corso hit cruise control over the final 200 with Hopkinton’s Hannah Bennett the best of the rest, beating out Bishop Brady’s Katie Palmeter 5:21.72 to 5:22.06.
In what might be the race of the day, Monadnock’s Delaney Swanson, having witnessed the handiwork of Corso in the earlier races, went to the front and started pushing early. Corso gamely hung on, and early on it looked like she would score the trifecta, but Swanson kept pressing, and with two hard races in the books, over the second half Swanson was able to open a gap she would hold for the rest of the race. Corso, already having had a herculean effort in her legs was passed in the final straight by Palmeter, adding a second to her third in the 1600.
In the hurdles, Newport’s Eliza Bates took command of both fields, winning the 100H in 16.13 and the 300H in 47.72, the latter being more than 1.5 seconds ahead of second. Second in both races was Campbell’s Tori Allen, who then proceeded to win the high jump. Pretty good day. Pole Vault went to White Mountains Abby Friedman, the only jumper to clear 8 feet.
Mascoma Valley’s Opal Schinnlinger lived up to her billing, winning the shot by over a foot and and a half with a 36-7.25 throw, and the disc by more than 10 feet with a 107-3 throw. In javelin, Fall Mountains Isabel Bushway led all competitors with the only throw over 100 feet, with 105 even.
In the 4×100 and 4×400 relays, Newport ruled the day, winning the battle with the “News”, running 52.90 over Newfound, and 4:22.40 over Newmarket.
With the meet bumped up by half an hour, and all the stops pulled to help insure the meet was completed (or as much completed as possible) before the storms rolled in, the heat and the tension could be felt from the very start. Once things got rolling, there was very little down time, which would be felt by teams that had committed their athletes heavily, trying to gain those valuable team points. That calculation would be felt as the meet progressed, the heat and effort combining for later scratches and efforts that might not reflect an athletes best.
With the boys 4×800 kicking things off, there was a feeling of gaining momentum from the first gun. Prospect Mountain got things rolling, taking the lead over top seed Monadnock, on leg one. Looking to roll as easy as possible in an effort to make a run at the title, Monadnock did not take control until the halfway point when their 20 second favorable seed time came to the fore and they eased away for the win in 8:31.73.
In the 110H, Mascoma Valley’s Gabe Rock being one of the athletes I said to watch as he was a 1.5 second seed over the next best, won a tight one with White Mountains Forest Pribbernow, 16.46 to 17.00. In the 100, pre race favorites Jager Lovely and JJ Davis were surprised (as was the viewing audience) when Portsmouth Christian’s freshman Tim Helm got out great from the gun, winning in 11.44 to 11.50 over Lovely.
In the 1600, Gilford’s Patrick Gandini set out to pull the distance trifecta with many of his competitors already having run the 4×800 forty minutes before. With the pace on the slow side, Kearsarge’s Gavin Garzia took the lead and began to crank things up, stringing out the field. With a lap to go, Gandini stepped to the front and it was all she wrote, winning in 4:48.31, with Monadnock’s Tyler Hebert crashing the last 100 to take second in 4:50.30, both back later in the program.
The 4×100 saw many of the competitors from the earlier sprint events back on the track for the third time in 30 minutes. Newport was able to prevail, winning in 45.19 to Stevens 45.66.
With the 400 up next on the track, top seed Conant’s Ethan Vitello, who was splitting time with long jump, got out fast, making up the stagger on second seed JJ Davis of Kearsarge. The hard effort in the first half cost Vitello, with Davis catching him off the final curve for the win in 51.58, with InterLakes Owen Carney closing fast and almost stealing it with 52.01.
The 300H was a clash of athletes having already completed a pretty stiff race schedule, Jagger Lovely was able to hold of WM’s Pribbernow, 43.42 to 44.22 in the battle of the already rans. And these boys weren’t done either.
Gandini was back in the 800, facing top seed Landen Vaillancourt from Mascenic and Monadnock’s Harry Ryan. Looking to burn the previously run Gandini and Ryan, Vaillancourt went to the front, registering just under a 60 second opening lap. Quick, but not fast enough to take their legs out, Ryan pulled wide with 200 to go with Gandini in his wake. Vaillancourt jumped on their wake looking to make one more move, but in the 800 you have just one move and Gandini ended up getting clear, winning in 1:58.46, with Ryan holding on for second.
In the 200, the effects of the quick meet pace and the torrid conditions came to a confluence, with some of the top seeds either fully succumbing to the conditions or being relegated to the back row by fresher athletes. Reaping the benefit was Newport’s Ryder Lovely in 23.82, followed by Mascoma’s Rock.
With no one really wanting to lead the 3200, Mascenic’s Traffie brothers (Connor and Drew) found themselves at the front of the race 200 meters in, taking everyone through the first lap in 76 seconds. They would remain there through three laps, with Drew leading all the way to 1500 meters in when Gandini put on a surge, stretching away the field. Belmont’s Will Riley slotted into second followed by Traffie, as these three stretched away from the field, many having already turned a few laps. At this point it was a war of attrition, the rest gamely trying to hang on as the storm clouds started to fill the sky. Gandini would continue to grow his lead over Riley and the top three would finish the way they went through the mile, with Gandini running 10:18.42.
In the final event, top seed Monadnock was able to hold off a fast closing Prospect Mountain, winning 3:42.56 to 3:42.61.
In the field events that concluded, Dylan Dickey of Laconia stepped up big with a toss of 155-7 to win by three feet over Newport’s Marius Edwards. Shot put was won by Garrett Somero of Conant, a relative newcomer and by far his season’s best with a throw of 45-1, more than a foot over Newfound’s Jacob Blouin. Disc concluded just as the heaven’s broke, with Edwards over Somero, winning 127-1 to 126-3.
In the jumps, Concord Christian’s Shane Wang won by over a foot on Kearsarge’s Davis, jumping 21-5.25. He’ll be back on Saturday in the triple jump. In pole vault, Fall Mountain’s Tyler Swain was the only jumper to get over 11 feet, with Kearsarge’s Jacob Poltack finishing second at 10 feet on jumpbacks. High jump will be concluded as team champions crowned on Saturday.
Congrats to all!