For the first time, the NHIAA Division 2 State Championships will be held Saturday at Kennett High School in North Conway, NH! While the Kennett Track and Field community, led by the Livingston family, has rallied around this event, Division 2 athletes have certainly demonstrated that the competition will be fierce and entertaining for all!
Performance Lists – Thanks Lancer Timing!
This could not be more obvious than on the girls side where 6 teams, yes 6, are separated by only 10 points on paper. Entering Saturday, Milford, Lebanon, Merrimack Valley, Portsmouth, Oyster River and Souhegan all score between 56 and 66 points based on final entry declarations.
Of the super six, Milford, Lebanon, and Merrimack Valley seem to have the most balance and are each led a superstar. Milford can score in up to 10 events and are led by Rebecca Durham and 2016 Miss NH Track and Field Viankah Williams. While Durham has had a phenomenal season in the 1600, 3200 and javelin, Williams continues to fight a hamstring issue. However, if healthy, Williams is the best sprinter in the state. Lebanon is led by Corinne Kennedy and Kath Merchant. Merchant is a favorite in the throws, but has some great competition this year and will be pushed to win all three. Kennedy has been fighting an injury of her own, relegating her to events that don’t have hurdling, sprinting or jumping involved, but will still score points in bunches. Merrimack Valley is led by Kristie Schoffield who has quite the to do list on Saturday. If she can stay strong for all of her events, the Pride could be hoisting a banner.
Souhegan is led by Madeline Hunt and their distance team while Portsmouth does not have the star per say, but as most solid track and field programs are able to do most years, the Lyfords have put together a very strong, balanced team which can score in the 60s. Then there is Oyster River who has the deepest stable of sprinters and jumpers. They might have the largest upside, especially towards the end of the meet where they have the potential to make a big splash in the 200. In recent memory, there has not been a team competition with this many contenders. Should be quite the battle for team supremacy.
Besides the team battle, the D2 girls have some individual showdowns. While Merchant is the favorite in all three throws, she does have Sanborn’s Meg Sheehan on her heels in the Shot and Discus. The 1600 pits Durham, Schoffield and Hunt against each other, while the 800 has Schoffield taking on Kennedy, who posted a 2:09.97 just last weekend. Finally, with a meet this close, we are sure the coaches of the contenders will be loading up their 4x400s. Don’t look now, but Portsmouth has the top seed with this one.
While the competition might not be as crowded for the top of the team podium as the girls, it looks as if Trinity, Lebanon and Coe-Brown all have a realistic shot to hoist the team champion plaque on Saturday. Trinity, the 2017 Indoor State Champions, will again rely on their big three, Sebastian Eaton (sprints), Tim Zepf (middle distance), and Oliver Thomas (hurdles). Lebanon, one of the more decorated programs in NH history, relies on four studs, super soph Ryan Sullivan (sprints/jumps), Ryan Miliken (sprints), Marcus Roper (throws), and Zach Petrin (jumps). While both Trinity and Lebanon have several top seeds, Coe-Brown seems to have the most complete track and field team with the potential to score in around 13 events or so. Their only individual top seed is Isaiah Allen (javelin) and the 4×800 and 4×400 anchored by Zach Richards.
Also like the girls, there are plenty of toss ups when it comes to picking winners in events. In the sprints, Sanborn superstar Kashief Bogannam is the top seed in the 100 and 200, but will have to contend with defending champ Eaton as well as Leb’s Miliken in both. The 800 looks to be a showdown between the division’s two best 800 meter runners in Zepf and Richards. Both are at least doubling back to this race (4x800s?), Zepf off the 400 and Richards off the 1600, so it may come down to who recovers best from their previous event. Further, entering his final D2 meet, Oyster River’s Patrick O’Brien has chosen to focus on the 1600. Coming off his 9:02 performance a couple weeks ago, the question is, given good conditions, how fast can O’Brien go in the shorter of the two distance events?
Both hurdle events should be a couple of the best races in the meet. Thomas will take on MV’s Brandon Wood in both with Windham’s Kevin Frey crashing the party in the intermediates. As referred to prior, Lebanon holds the top seeds in all three jumps. The question is can anyone challenge Sullivan in the High and Long or Petrin in the Triple?
While the throws could be labeled the Oliver Gunski (Goffstown) show as he is top seed in both Discus and Shot, don’t sleep on Roper, Allen or some one else to simply connect on one!