By Mike Smith
What a wacky season. Beginning with the mask-while-competing controversy and how that all went down. This leaked into the championships, for which those rules were developed, as the masks-during-competition was lifted, the fields expanded (to 12) and spectators being allowed. Thankfully we’ve made it to the post season without much incident, and while this season certainly felt much different, it also felt really good to get it in.
With all this wackiness, a return to dual and tri meets, hand timing, no Invites, and the growing pains that go along with new programs and the rustiness of both athletes and coaches with the lost season of 2020, I am reluctant to try to identify races, athletes or team championship expectations off this season’s results. Rather I want to highlight some of the action I see as “must watches” based on the scratches and entries of Sunday night.
Portsmouth Christian girls going for it in the 4×800. Their composite time is under the current D3 record and their times over the last couple weeks have only gotten faster. Do they go for the record or try to conserve their energy for the individual events? At the seeding meeting coach Mike Shevenell revealed PCA’s Ella Malone is out with injury, scrapping those plans to go after the D3 record I was excited about. Looking for that “silver lining” simply means we get to see Brianna Malone and Liza Corso go after individual greatness across the mid D and distance events.
Similarly is the Monadnock boys 4×800 team as they currently have a time two seconds off the D3 record. They looked fantastic running 8:20 under the lights two weeks back. Again, the question is whether to go for the record or conserve for the many individual events they’re slated for? Based on entries, I would have to assume they are running to win the 4×800 with much of that team doubling and tripling back later in the meet.
Patrick Gandiniof Gilford is looking to rip all the distance events. With a short window between events, how will this work out? As the top seed in the 1600 and 3200, Gandini is only ranked 4th in the 800 and is running up against top seed Landen Vaillancourt in that race. With home venue advantage, can the Great Gandini produce some more magic this spring season?
Shawn Wang of Concord Christian in triple jump and long jump. Wang’s triple jump is just outside the D3 record by Gilford’s Dan Dubois from 1995. Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the record to be broken at Gilford? Additionally, there are four guys jumping 20 feet or better in long jump and three better than 40 feet in triple. Might be the event to watch.
Opal Shinninger of Mascoma Valley in the throws should be a good show. The leader in disc by almost twenty feet, she’s also ranked #1 in shot. Could there be twenty points in it for the Royal Panthers?
How about boys shot put, with seven boys throwing further than 40 feet? Led by top seed in the discus as well, Joey Bergeron of Bishop Brady, the shot could be interesting.
The boys 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. If the seed times are correct, Mascoma Valley’s Gabe Rock has a 2 second advantage over the field. Jagger Lovely of Newport enjoys the same advantage in the 300 hurdles as well. This brings me back to an MOC meet at Londonderry when a Souhegan athlete showed up for prelims straight from high jump with no time to change into spikes, ran and won the prelim in training shoes.
How will all this turn out? Has anyone considered the team competition? Vying for the top spots should be Kearsarge, Conant and Monadnock boys and with the girls, Newfound, Kearsarge and possibly PCA. We’ll find out this Tuesday and Wednesday up in the Lakes Region.