By Nate Leveille
The 2018 Merrimack Invitational featured some of the best competition the state has to offer. Some familiar faces were missing or had reduced roles due to the Loucks Games in New York this weekend. The meet started with one of the most anticipated battles of the night in the boy’s 100 meter dash between Jadyn Ruimwjik of Pinkerton and Dalton Mutz of Concord. Mutz got out of the blocks first and held his lead to the line in a winning time of 11.33. Mutz doubled back for the win in the 200 meter in 22.96. Those could be two very important races at the Division 1 meet in two weeks.
Pinkerton’s Noah Woodman is back! He blazed a loaded 400 meter field in 49.38 and later in the meet erased a 20 meter deficit for the win in the 4×400 (split was at least low 49s). Jeffrey Allen of Campbell got the smaller schools in the win column by leading from start to finish in the boys 1600 meter run with a winning time of 4:28.56. The leader of the strong Concord distance program, Forest MacKenzie won the two mile with a time of 9:35.90.
Merrimack used the home track advantage and excellent exchanges to win the 4×100 meter relay over Pinkerton in a time of 44.21.
In the jumps, Dover’s Emmanuel Nkounkou, known around the track as E-Man, defeated Exeter’s Jake Langevin in the high jump, Both cleared 6’0”. Tyler Troy of Coe-Brown continued his excellent junior season with another win in the pole vault clearing 12’0”. Freshman Xavier Provost of Nashua North continues to improve in the triple jump taking the win in 42’ 7.5”. Lastly, in the long jump, Joshua Sibanda of Salem remains the favorite heading into the championship season winning with a jump of 20’10”.
The throwers came to compete at Merrimack bringing their “A” game. Jon King of Pinkerton continued to dominate the competition in the Javelin winning by 30ft with a throw of 173’10”. The discus featured the top ranked throwers in division 1, Jeremiah Swett of Exeter and Patrick Hagearty of Londonderry. Hagearty took home the crown with a season best of 149’ 0” to Swett’s 146’ 9”. Hagearty came back for the double win in the Shot with a distance of 48’ 2.25”.
The Concord boys used their depth and experience to win on the boys side with a score of 88 points over runner-up Pinkerton.
On the girls side, Grace Devanny of Concord dropped down from her usual 400 meters and got the win over Crismeilly Borg of Nashua South with a time of 12.88. Borg came back later to win the 200 meters and also anchored the winning 4×100 Nashua South team. Borg’s teammate, Sydney Lewis leaned through the line to nip Ellie Johnston of Exeter in the hurdles with a winning time of 15.75. Mollie Simpson of Memorial used a late charge in the 400 to get the win in 1:00.09.
All-American Jackie Gaughan of Exeter dropped down to the 800 meter and raced freshman star Macy Graves of Pinkerton. Graves took the lead and held off Gaughan to the line with a winning time of 2:20.53. Nashua South got yet another win in the girls 1600 meter run as Cali Coffin ran away from the field and finished with a time of 5:11.20. Violet Sullivan of Exeter used a strong second half to take the 3200 meter run with a time of 11:19.62. In one of the more entertaining races of the night and the last track event, Exeter overtook Pinkerton and held off a charging Memorial to win the 4×400 in 4:14.63.
Lewis followed up her Hurdle win with another in the high jump clearing 5’ 2”. Exeter finished 1-2-4 in the long jump with Johnston getting the win with a distance of 16’ 0”. In the triple jump, Alana Choat of Nashua North won with a horizontal leap of 36’ 6.5”. Londonderry continues to produce pole vaulters as Suzie Moore won with a height of 9’ 6”.
In the throws, Laurel Breen of Pinkerton defeated her teammate Amelia Graves to win the Javelin with a toss of 110’ 9”. In the shot and the disc, Kathleen Collins of Coe-Brown stole the show winning both the shot 37’ 10.5” and the discus 148’ 3”. In my mind she was the athlete of the meet on either side. Impressive!
Nashua South (my pick as preseason favorite to win D1) won on the girls side with 93 points ahead of runner-up Exeter.