By Nate Leveille
Teams from around the Seacoast area will converge at Exeter High School this Friday for the Annual Seacoast Championship Meet. This year for the first time, all throwing implements will be weighed and measured making all jumping, throwing, and track events eligible for the Meet of Champions. Let’s hope for clear weather and fast times.
On the girls side, last year’s champs, Exeter High School will look to defend its crown, but should have significant competition from Portsmouth High School, Oyster River, and Sanborn. At the Salem Kiwanis Freshman-Sophomore meet, 2 weeks ago Portsmouth, Exeter and Sanborn went 1-2-3 on the girls side, so there is plenty of young, talented athletes in this meet. The Seacoast Meet always features some of the state’s fastest sprinters across all divisions. Sanborn is built to score massive points behind Kristina Allard, Hannah Elhers, Kaylen LaChapelle, Megan Sheehan, and their relay teams. With enough event wins and high finishes, they could challenge the two favorites in the team race, Exeter and Portsmouth.
I bet Coach Lyford would admit this is one of the deepest and most well rounded teams he’s ever coached at Portsmouth High School. They have displayed that depth all season long winning their own relay meet invitational and the freshman- sophomore meet in Salem. Winning the Seacoast meet would go a long way in building confidence heading into the state meet next week. Don’t let this Portsmouth team fool you they have very good relay teams, Ellen Baker in the distance (5:23 1600m, 2:25 800m), Acadia Momm-White in the hurdles and sprints, and Sarah Morin in the 300h and the pole vault, and enough other pieces to put together a Seacoast title run. They will be in contention to score in almost every event.
The favorites on the girls side have to be the defending champs, Exeter High School. Exeter won last year and has a very talented and large freshman class of 28 girls which makes them deeper and more talented than last year’s team. Exeter is led by captain and hurdle specialist Ellie Johnston, and distance stars Jackie Gaughan and Violet Sullivan. Exeter is built much like Portsmouth in that they can threaten to score in every event contested. They are strongest in the field events with 4 girls over 16 feet in the long jump. Exeter will need to spread their athletes out across all events, run solid relays, and perform well in the field events to win the meet.
Allard of Sanborn has been a star since she arrived on the high school stage. She will be the girl to beat in whatever events she decides to compete in and has the top times from 100m to 400m in Division 2. If she is challenged in the sprints it will most likely come from Devin McClain, Xiana Twombly, and/or Amelia Concannon of Oyster River. Last year, Oyster River scored 57 of their 88 points in the 100m to 400m races. If they can do something similar this year, they can challenge for the title.
The distance races will feature some of the best talent in the state with Division 1 stars Exeter’s Gaughan and Sullivan, Division 2 standouts Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin, Sanborn’s Avery Scully, Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox and Portsmouth’s Ellen Baker. We obviously can’t leave out the new kid on the block, Division 3’s Raymond superstar Anna Harmon, who is top seed in the 1600 (5:11.91). With states the following week, many distance runners elect to run in a 4×800 and one distance race. In the past, some of the best races have been in the shorter distances like 800m and 1600m. Exeter, Portsmouth, Coe-Brown, and Dover could put together some fast 4x800s prior to the state meet.
The field events will be the place to be from a spectating perspective. The long jump has the potential to have 6 girls over 16ft led by Allard. After Allard, her teammate Kaylen LaChapelle is over 16ft and then Exeter has 4 girls, Sydney Ward, Kelsey Pierce, Ellie Johnston, and Camille Sweet all between 16’2” to 16’6”.
The shot and discus will involve many of the key players in this year’s MOCs. Sarah Williams of Dover, Maddy Buchalski of St.Thomas, Megan Sheehan of Sanborn, Abby Laurence of Portsmouth, Becca Olson of Sanborn, and Kathleen Collins of Coe-Brown are all ranked in the top 10 in all divisions of the state in the shot put. Speaking of Collins, she comes into the meet with a monster throw of 149 feet in the discus, followed by Sheehan at 125ft, and Williams at 119ft. The field events will not disappoint.
The boys team competition on paper seems to be all Winnacunnet as they have potential to score in 15 events and do serious damage in the distance and hurdle events. Obviously when discussing the Warriors, Billy Powers immediately comes to mind as he should definitely post 20 individual points and bolster the relays. However, 1 individual does not make a great track and field team. Powers needs help and has plenty of it across all events, especially the distance events. Quietly, Winnacunnet, led by Colin Donnelly and Jack Taylor, has positioned themselves to score close to 40 points from the 800 up, and 50 if their 4×800 holds their top seed. Couple that with a potential win in the 4×400 as well as spraying several points over the remaining events, and it looks like over 120 points and a Winnacunnet victory.
If any team has the depth to give Winnacunnet some trouble, it would have to be D2’s Portsmouth. Like the Warriors, the Clippers can score in numerous events, around 13 of them. They have the potential to drop a bunch in the High Jump as several athletes are seeded at 6′. They could score two in the pole vault as sophomore Chris Mood is having a great season and don’t overlook Cam Duncan in the Long Jump as he is the only jumper seeded over 20′. They also need a big day from Ryan Prinz, who is ranked second in both the 400 and 800.
Host Exeter, 2017 Champs Coe-Brown and Sanborn appear to be the best of the rest. Exeter is led by distance ace Jake Winslow (1600/800), long sprinter Dante Radigonda (200/400), and thrower Jeremiah Swett. After getting hit heavy by 2017 graduation, CBNA is led by seniors Orion Clachar and Evan Tanguay as well as junior thrower John Thorn, but has a tremendous supporting cast comprised of young guns across several events. They may be a year away. It seems as if every year, Sanborn continues to improve, and this year is no different as they continue to build a program! Look for them to make noise in the sprints and jumps led by Kashief Bogannam and thrower Owen Snively. Considering throws, Somersworth’s Zach Andrews is ranked in the top 3 in all three throwing events.
By the way, this year’s meet has the following features!
- New Event T-shirts! $15!
- All event winners need to report to the Runner’s Alley Champions Tent (near the High Jump on the infield) for their Championship Tees and Interview!
- Lobster Pull Raffle! Chance for a dozen Maine Lobsters!!!