Divisional Meet Hub – for broadcast, interviews, pics
By Nate Leveille, Exeter High
The largest schools in the state and some of the best athletes in New England competed at Merrimack High School for the NHIAA Division One Championships Friday night. What I personally love about the Divisional Championship meet is the strategy involved from entering athletes in certain events and runners racing for places and points rather than records. The new Meet of Champions format allows athletes to enter any race at the Meet of Champions and use their best time from the season. This puts less emphasis on fast times from the divisional meet and allows athletes especially middle distance and distance runners to go for team points in multiple events.
On the girls side, there was a much anticipated team battle between Bedford High School and Pinkerton Academy of Derry. Pinkerton needed to perform and have something go right for them to upset Bedford for the team title. In my opinion, no athlete understands how to race for important team points and quad better than Brittany Johnson of Pinkerton. She had another impressive quad on Friday night racing on both the 4×800 and 4×400 relays and clearly running tactical races in both the 1600m and 800m for points. Bedford countered that move with star Leya Salis, who despite running 4 races of her own, won the 1600m and the 800m and set a new Division 1 record in the 800m (2:13.63). Bedford’s senior laden team, used their big meet experience to outdistanced Pinkerton Academy with a team score of 107 points to Pinkerton Academy’s 91. Shanna Scribner of Bedford dominated in the throws completing the triple win and securing 30 massive points in the process. The senior class at Bedford has never lost a Division One meet. Pinkerton and third place Nashua South both return many scorers from this year’s meet making 2018’s team race an exciting one.
Katya Levasseur of Manchester Central was another double winner on the day taking both the 100 (12.60) and the 200 (25.77). Maria Virga of Pinkerton was another double winner on the night taking home both hurdle races. She won the High Hurdles with a time of 15.11 and then doubled back with an impressive 45.83 in the 300-meter hurdles. Mollie Redman of Bedford won both the Long Jump (17’02.5”) and the Triple Jump (37’03.5”). Bishop Guertin set a new Division 1 meet record with a run of 9:28.28 in the 4×800. Jacqueline Gaughan of Exeter cruised to victory in the 3200 with a time of 10:19.97.
On the boys side, the team race looked like it could potentially be tight on paper. Pinkerton Academy of Derry was the heavy favorite heading into the meet, but Nashua North was hoping for a couple slip-ups and a perfect meet on their side to make it interesting. Pinkerton performed above even their own expectations and ran away with the team title compiling a massive 147 team points to runner-up Nashua North’s 104. From an opposing coach’s perspective, the scary part might be that Pinkerton will be even better next year as their core of point scorers return from this championship team. Junior Jadyn Ruimwijk of Pinkerton won both the 100 (11.02) and 200 (22.05). Junior Noah Woodman (Pinkerton) won the 400, breaking the Division One meet record set back in 1998 with a time of 48.74. Pinkerton also won both the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 meter relay.
The performance of the night belonged to sophomore Triston Delicema of Nashua North. He finished runner-up in the Long Jump to his teammate Jordan Buckmire, but then put on a show in the triple jump. Triston broke the state record in the triple jump with a distance of 48’01.25”. This record was set back in 1982!
Scott Rathbun of Keene cleared an impressive 14 feet in the pole vault despite less than ideal vaulting conditions. Heavy favorite in the 100 Hurdles Billy Powers of Winnacunnet cruised through the preliminary rounds, but unfortunately caught the first hurdle in the finals and went down allowing Adam Spencer of Pinkerton to take the finals. Powers regrouped and crushed the 300 Hurdles with a time of 38.80 narrowly missing the Division 1 meet record. Distance star and Lowell bound Noah Bellomo of Alvirne completed the impressive double victory in the 1600 (4:19.93) and 800m (1:55.81).