By Nate Leveille
Twelve weeks of hard work came to a conclusion for many teams and individuals on Friday night at Wildcat Stadium for the 2019 Division 1 State Meet. The great thing about the sport of track and field is there’s no shortcuts, fluke goals, or defense. You can’t control how fast or slow someone else runs, how high they jump, or how far they throw. The weather conditions for the meet were excellent. It wasn’t too hot that the distance runners would struggle to double and triple and it wasn’t too cool for the sprinters. There was a fairly substantial wind during the 4×800 and trials, but even that went away as the night went on. The meet started by recognizing the individuals on the All-State team for both boys and girls.
The meet started with the 4×800 meter relay. Pre-race favorite Bishop Guertin didn’t disappoint as they won with a time of 9:41.56 just ahead of runner-up Keene 9:43.83. More importantly for the BG team they were able to get the win without using Caroline Fisher in the relay.
The 100 meter hurdles were up next. Katya Rojco of Salem had the top time in the trials, but it was Sydney Lewis of Nashua South that got the win in the finals in a season best time of 15.45 squeaking ahead of Sheridan McGadden of Bedford 15.48 and Camille Sweet of Exeter 15.71.
The 100 meter dash featured the future of New Hampshire sprinting. Freshmen star Autumn Aronofsky of Salem blitzed the field and cruised to victory in the 100 meter dash with a winning time of 12.40. She was followed by Lauren Noble of Spaulding in 12.71 and Ashley Griffin of Londonderry in 12.84.
Next on the track was the girls 1600 meter run. A fresh Caroline Fischer of BG took control from the beginning and cruised to victory in a 5:02.17 comfortably ahead of Mikayla Randall of Keene 5:11.34 and Alexander Adele of Merrimack 5:13.44. BG was able to secure 14 team points in the 1600m. After the 1600m, the team scores were Exeter-27, BG-24, and Nashua South-22.
Next on the track was the girls 4×100 meter relay. This event unexpectedly would be the turning point of the meet from a team perspective. Exeter, the 5 seed, executed perfect hand-offs and ran a season best 50.19 to nip Pinkerton at the line 50.24. Bedford Finished 3rd in 50.54. Team scores were Exeter-37 South-27 BG-26.
The 400 meter run at the Division One meet was the end of an era. Concord’s Grace Devanny, already the state record holder, became a 4-time D1 state champ in the 400 meter run with a winning time of 56.40 just off the D1 record. She was followed by Aronofsky of Salem 57.63 and freshman Kylee Quinlan of Winnacunnet in 58.77. Quinlan and Aronofsky are going to be fun to watch in this race the next three years. Exeter- 39 South-26 BG-24 and now Bedford and Salem enter the party with 22 each.
The 300 hurdles figured to be one of the more exciting races of the night and it didn’t disappoint. Amelia Graves of Pinkerton and Sydney Lavelle of Exeter went stride for stride throughout the whole race. Both girls gave everything they had but both girls also clipped the last hurdle opening the door for Rojco of Salem to surprise them at the line and get the win in 45.94. Lavelle gathered herself for second in 46.12 (also only a freshman), and Graves finished third in 46.17. Exeter- 49, Salem-32, BG-32, Bedford-28.
Fischer was back to work in the 800 meters for leg two of her triple crown attempt. This figured to be the most difficult of the three with a fresh Silvia Cadell of Salem and Macy Graves of Pinkerton. Fischer’s strength and speed combo proved to be too much as she held on for the win in 2:18.53 ahead of Caddell 2:19.26 and Graves 2:19.40. The top 8 girls in the 800 were all underclassmen. Exeter-53, BG-42, Salem- 40, Bedford-28.
In the 200, Devanny of Concord surged to the front and won by more than a second 25.13 over Noble of Spaulding 26.31 and Sarah Waite of Concord 26.37. For Devanny just another championship win to had to her list over many over her career. Exeter- 57, BG 42, Salem-40, Concord- 33.
On very little rest Fischer was back out in front of the 3200 meter race. She was able to hold off Cali Coffin of Nashua South 11:12.36 and Anna Harnsberger of Bedford 11:15.97 to get not only the win in 11:06.51, but a completion of the triple crown. 1600-800-3200 wins. It was one of the most memorable and better performances by a distance girl at the D1 championships. It also helped tighten up the team race. Exeter-57, BG-52, Salem-40, Concord-37.
The last race of the night on the oval was the girls 4×400 meters. Winnacunnet had been the team to beat all season long. They handed off to the anchor leg in the lead and held off a charging Pinkerton and Exeter team to get the win and nearly break the 4 minute mark with a time of 4:00.78. Pinkerton was second in 4:02.52 and Exeter 3rd in 4:04.21. Exeter -77 BG-54 South-48 Salem-47. With field events still left.
In the Long Jump, Camille Sweet of Exeter was able to defend her indoor long jump crown with a season best distance of 17’ 7.5”. Julia Zheng of South had a season best jump of 17’4” for second and Rojco of Salem was 3rd with a jump of 17’1”. In the triple jump it was Zheng of South, the 1 seed, winning with a leap of 36’3”. Sweet in only her 2nd week as a triple jumper bombed a 2 foot personal best finishing second in 35’ 11.75”. It was Skylar Bomba of Alvirne getting third in 34’ 7.5”.
Lewis of South was able to win a three way jump-off in the high jump to get the win with a height of 5’2” over Molly O’Donnell of Alvirne and Bomba of Alvirne. 7 girls went 5 feet or higher! In the pole vault Madolyn Croteau of Londonderry was able to fly over 10’6” to get the win over her teammate Griffin 9’6”. Katherine Moran of Winnacunnet was third in 9’6”.
In the shot, Victoria Conrad of Nashua North is starting to get in the conversation of one of the best ever in NH history. She had a winning toss of 42’2” well ahead of Merideth Basta of BG 37’2.5” and Natalie Burgess of Nashua North 33’ 7.5”. Nashua North secured 3 of the top 4 places in the event. In the discus Jordan Heiser of Exeter took the lead in the finals with a 114’11” personal best. Akolam Wambu of Londonderry was second with 105’5” and Samantha Vorster of Exeter was 3rd in 103’10”.
All Aliana Mercado of Nashua North has done this season is win and she continued her winning ways in the javelin with a toss of 117’5”. Brooke Clooney of Spaulding was second with a toss of 103’10” and Amelia Graves was 3rd with a toss of 101’3”.
When the dust settled it was Exeter High School securing back to back spring titles for the first time since back in the 1970’s. Exeter had only three event wins on the day in the Long Jump, 4×100, and Discus but used their depth to score points in 11 different events with lots of 2nd-4th places. There were led by senior captain Camille Sweet’s 24 points. Finishing second was Nashua South with 58 points. Nashua South scored exactly half (29) of their 58 points in the field events. They were led by UMASS Lowell-bound star Sydney Lewis’s 21 points. Bishop Guertin the indoor champs nearly pulled off another plaque finish with only bringing 10 girls to the state meet. They were carried by their distance crew and the incredible triple win of Caroline Fischer. Fischer accounted for 32 of their 54 team points. A young and upcoming Salem squad secured 4th with 47 points and Pinkerton rounded out the top 5 with 45 points.
The boys meet started out with a competitive 4×800. Keene was the pre meet favorite and ran away from the field, going sub 8 in the process. The winning time of 7:59.73 was well ahead of runner-up Concord 8:12.42 and Dover 8:15.33.
In the 110 high hurdles Adam Spencer of Pinkerton continued his dominance this season. He blitzed the field in a winning time of 14.35. He’s no longer in the shadow of Billy Powers and clearly one of the best hurdlers in New England. He was followed by Manolo Feliz of Concord who dipped under 15 seconds for the first time in his career with a 14.78. In third was Nasir Perry of Nashua North with a 14.96.
In the 100 meter dash Jack McSweeney of Exeter, Conor Seleny of Pinkerton, and Adam Thornton of Merrimack traded shots all year. It was McSweeney getting the win in a blazing 10.89 ahead of Thornton 11.09 and Seleny 11.10. After three events on the track and a few fields in the books it was Merrimack-28, Exeter-20, Pinkerton-18, Concord 17
Next on the track was the boys 1600 meter run. Similar to Fischer on the girls side, Jake Winslow of Exeter was attempting the triple crown of his own. The top seed in the mile, Winslow took the lead with a lap to go and cruised down the homestretch to conserve energy and win in 4:22.59 ahead of hard charging Joseph Curran of Nashua North 4:23.64 and Jack Taylor of Winnacunnet 4:26.68. Exeter-30, Merrimack-28, Concord-21, Pinkerton-18
Similar to the girls meet the 4×100 was a turning point in the boys meet. Pinkerton on paper was around a 10 point favorite for the team title and the top seed in the 4×100. The 4×100 is an unpredictable event and lived up to its reputation. Merrimack executed perfect handoffs and flew to the win in 43.15 followed by Exeter 43.61 and Concord 44.26. Exeter-40, Merrimack-38, Pinkerton-28, Concord-27
In the 400, the indoor 300 meter champ and 600 meter champ met up. It was Zach Verow of Bedford holding of Dante Radigonda of Exeter to get the win in a time of 50.30 to 50.37. Davante Mckoy-Sophes of Alvirne finished 3rd in 51.19. Exeter-49, Merrimack-38, Bedford-37, Pinkerton-28.
In the 300 hurdles Adrian Sutton of Spaulding went out hard and took an early lead. Seleny and Spencer of Pinkerton caught up on the last hurdle and Sutton went crashing to the track impeding Seleny in the process. Sutton was DQed and Spencer got the win in 39.26 over Seleny’s 40.41 and Ryan Kenny of Memorial’s 42.49. Those three will get to battle again next week at the MOC. Exeter-49, Pinkerton-46, Merrimack-38, Bedford 37.
In the 200, Seleny of Pinkerton (22.36) got the win over McSweeney of Exeter (22.52) and Marshall Burns of Exeter 22.70. Seven Boys went under 23 seconds in what was one of the deeper 200 meters in recent years.
Winslow of Exeter never stopped jogging before the 3200 meters on short rest. Forest Mackenzie of Concord tried to set an early fast pace to try to shake Winslow from the lead pack. In the end, it was Winslow kicking to his third victory of the day and completing the triple crown in the boys distance events. He got the win in 9:21.02 ahead of Eli Boesch-Dining of Concord (9:21.65) and Colin Donnelly ofWinnacunnet (9:22.39). Exeter-103 Pinkerton-75
The last event on the oval was the 4×400 meter relay. Exeter and Pinkerton came in with nearly identical seed times are 3:28. Both teams had one star unavailable for the relay in Seleny (4 events) and Winslow (Max out with 3 distance races). Nashua North and Nashua South found themselves in the lead after two legs but Pinkerton and Exeter worked their way to the front. It was Radigonda of Exeter that was able to hold off Pinkerton to get the win in a time of 3:26.41. Pinkerton finished second in 3:28.17 and Bedford from the other heat finished 3rd in 3:29.27. Exeter-113 Pinkerton-83
In the field events, Ryan Hagearty of Londonderry had himself a day in the throws. He bombed the shot put out to a career best 53’ 4.5” ahead of Jared Dyer of Merrimack who also had a career best throw of 50’ 7.25”. Ryan Whitney of Exeter was third with a career best 48’ 5”. In the discus, it was the same big three battling it out. Hagearty got the win with a 157’4” toss ahead of Whitney 148’7” toss. Dyer was third with a throw of 136’0”. In the Javelin Jacob Pacheco of BG continued his winning ways with a bomb of 150’ 2” ahead of Jackson Wiley of Bedford (145’0”) and Adam Thornton of Merrimack 144’2”.
In the high jump it was Jake Langevin getting his first state title going over 6’0”. Ethan Holt of BG was second with a jump of 6’0” and Adam Spencer was 3rd clearing 5’10”. In the long jump, Paul Marchand went 21’ 6.5” for the win. Colton Boursier of Pinkerton was second 20’9.5” and Joron Harrell of Pinkerton was 3rd 20’5.5”. In the triple jump Harrell of Pinkerton snuck into the finals after two fouls and then bombed one out to 44’2.5” ahead of Lucien Mumpini of Bedford 43’2.5” and third place finisher Ryan Lane of Spaulding 42’ 0.75”. Lane of Spaulding took the pole vault clearing 12’6”. Pacheco of BG was second also clearing 12’6” and Thomas Gerton of Memorial was third clearing 12 feet.
The team title looked like a two team race between Pinkerton and Exeter. Pinkerton had a slight edge on paper, but seedings mean very little at the championships. Exeter had a day where virtually every athlete had a season or career best performance. Exeter took the boys team title for the first time in 43 years with a score of 117 points. On paper they were suppose to score around 90. They got wins in the 100,1600, 800, 3200, HJ and 4×400. They were led by the 30 point effort of Jacob Winslow. Pinkerton Academy finished with the runner-up plaque scoring 97 points. On paper that’s basically what they were suppose to score. They got wins in the TJ, 110H, 300H, and 200. They were led by Seleny’s 24 points and Spencer’s 28 points. I said it to the paper, if you want to beat Pinkerton Academy in boys track you have to have a very good team and you have to have a perfect meet. Pinkerton is the benchmark on the boys side from year to year often having the target on them come the championship. They have an outstanding young group that will be a handful the next few years. Exeter graduates around 18 seniors off this year’s championship team. Look for 3rd place finisher Bedford 47 points and 4th place team Merrimack 46 points to be in contention next year with an excellent young core.
Once again thank you to all the schools that volunteered students and adults to help make the meet run smoothly. Thanks to Rick Berryman with Lancer Timing for spending the whole weekend timing all three championship races and for all the time he spends behind the scenes during the season. Thanks to all those affiliated with NewHampshireTrackandField.com and the sponsors for continuing to take New Hampshire Track to the next level. Best of luck to all competing in the MOC’s next weekend and to those that will represent the state at New Englands the following week.