It has been nearly 2 years since the individuals and teams that are New Hampshire Track and Field stepped onto their facilities as a formal group. Nearly 2 years since we have had competitions, Battlenotes, awe-inspiring performances. As this post is being generated, it is the first week of the 2021 NH Track and Field season. Teams and coaches are meeting in an official capacity with many questions needed to be answered. Most importantly, who the are the top athletes to watch out for this upcoming season and which teams are poised to make the run to the podium proving they are among the strongest track and field programs in the state? Even better, everyone gets to experience simply participating while running, jumping or throwing. That should be what we are looking forward to the most!
With all of that said, we offer the typical disclaimer regarding this particular Division 2 preview and an invitation. 1st the invitation! If after reading this, you feel someone was overlooked OR someone should be mentioned, simply comment below!!! We want to include everyone who should be, which brings us to the disclaimer. With a gap of almost 2 years it is impossible to know with incredible accuracy who will be the tops in each group of events. While some kids will “win the wait”, others may have left the sport entirely. And of course, this year’s sophomore class has yet to even experience a high school track and field season. We have certainly reviewed the 2019 outdoor season, 2020 indoor season and 2020 XC season, but we will assuredly miss kids! Fill us in! Comment below.
Sprints & Hurdles
If one considers the most recent track state championships (Indoor 2020), there are 3 schools currently in D2 which seem to have the top sprinters. While Hanover has Ella Maclean and Zoe Onyango, Pelham has Gwenyth Dahlinger and Paige Hurst, but Oyster River has a pack of Bobcats in Jennifer Nadig, Shealee Dulin and Charlotte Cousins. Knowing Coach Ricciardi, he probably has a couple others waiting in the wings. Throw in the likes of Milford’s Renee Wilson, Plymouth’s Tara Smoker and possibly Bow’s Kristina Pizzi, and the 100, 200 and 400 should be just as competitive as most years.
The hurdle events see a similar Oyster River theme with Ella Stasko and Cousins. Stasko would have been the top high hurdler indoors while Cousins is the top from 2019 outdoors as the defending champ! Sanborn’s Kaylen LaChapelle as well as Pelham’s Jackelyn Cawthron should also factor into the Highs. Other contenders for the intermediate hurdles should be Coe-Brown’s Oliva Noni, Hanover’s Olivia Trummel and Oyster River’s Kate Butcher.
Middle Distance & Distance
Look for Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox and Souhegan’s Chloe Trudel to renew their friendly rivalry in both the 1600 and 3200 come this upcoming spring track season. If Cross Country was any indicator, we should be in for some great racing come state championship time. And, if either falter, look for Merrimack Valley’s Sophia Reynolds to step up and capitalize. No one should overlook Hanover’s Riley Roach or her teammate Caroline Loescher either.
The 800 might be a bit tougher to predict but look for new names towards the top like Bow’s Pizzi, Bishop Brady’s Abigail Shagena, Hollis/Brookline Amy Pattelena, and Coe-Brown’s Samantha Lemay.
Look for Sanborn’s Kaylen LaChapelle, actually the 2019 defending champion in the Long Jump to factor in the long and the triple where she finished 2nd in 2019. Matter of fact, LaChapelle is also a 5′ high jumper! She will certainly factor into all three! Milford’s Renee Wilson should be her top challenger in the both the long and triple jumps and it should be close! Wilson’s teammate Leslie MacGrath will be LaChapelle’s competition in the High Jump. Don’t count out Hanover’s Onyango, Oyster River’s Nathalie Pare, and MacGrath’s teammate Sarah Sawyer. Another Milford Lady Spartan, Olivia Vogel is one of the top returners in the Pole Vault along with Oyster River’s Pare.
Expect a whole new set of names in the throws of Division 2. Names like CBNA’s Natalie Riley in the Shot and Discus and Milford’s Rachel Gizzonio in the Discus and Javelin. Don’t overlook Gizzonio’s teammate, Kylie Allen in the Shot Put or Sanborn’s Ellie Morris in the Discus. In the javelin, Plymouth’s Samantha Meier is the top returner with Gizzonio the next best and her freshman teammate Sarah Sawyer right there as well.
With defending champion Portsmouth matriculating if you will to Division 1, Division 2 seems to be wide open. Milford and Oyster River seem to have the most coming back as well as recently rich traditions. Don’t count out teams like Sanborn, Coe-Brown, Hanover, and Souhegan.
Sprints & Hurdles
The last active indoor track season saw Windham then-sophomore Braeden Manti win the 55, outleaning Merrimack Valley’s Seth Baylus. Expect both names along with Hollis/Brookline’s Michael Curtin and Isaac Velez to factor into the 100 meters. Of course many will be looking to Windham’s Quinn Cerami, the defending champ in the 200 with Velez possibly on his heels.
So many graduated in the 400, but another Cavalier is the top returner in Nathan Maloney, but don’t be surprised to see Cerami or Kearsarge’s JJ Davis here also. And one never knows who might drop down like a Porter Heigis of Coe-Brown.
In the High Hurdles, again with graduation and Portsmouth headed to D1, this event is wide open, but look for Windham’s Jackson Bomba, who saw great success as a freshmen outdoors and sophomore indoors. Goffstown’s Will Sasso is the top returner in the 300 Hurdles.
Let’s take a look at the 800 first for the boys. Coe-Brown’s Porter Heigis is the defending champ in the event as well as the current champ in the 600 indoors. Fans should certainly watch for Oyster River’s Owen Fleischer if he decides to drop down to the 800. Others dropping down could also be CBNA’s Wyatt Mackey and Sanborn’s Owen Stocker, or perhaps a Khalil or 2 from Sanborn???
Looking at the 1600 and 3200, obviously names like seniors Andy O’Brien (Oyster River) along with Luke Tkaczyk (Coe-Brown), and sophomore Aidan Cox (Coe-Brown) all come to mind first for obvious reasons. O’Brien is the reigning indoor 1500 and 3k champ as well as the top returner in the 3200. Tkaczyk and Cox have dropped some serious times in the 3200 time trials in the 9:20 range as well as 4:20 in the 1600 not to mention their performances during the 2020 Cross Country season. Windham’s Rohan Rai and Trey Gonzalez certainly will be factors. Other names to watch for in these events include Sanborn’s Dylan and Jared Khalil, Milford’s Caleb Korthals, as well as CBNA’s Mackey.
The jumps should be quite competitive this spring. Beginning with the Long Jump which sees two twenty foot leapers coming out of indoors 2020 in the likes of Windham’s Curtis Shattuck and Coe-Brown’s Anders Larson. At the time, MV’s Baylus was also seeing improvement there as well as Pembroke’s Harry Army. Speaking of Army, he is the current top returner in the Triple Jump along with D’Caury Shapleigh of Goffstown, John Stark’s Marcus Paveglio, MV’s Jadein Vasquez, and Kearsarge’s Berhan Kidane.
In the vertical jumps, Sanborn’s Max Lussier and Souhegan’s Dawson Hamele should be contenders in the High Jump along with possibly Ian Soldberg of Hanover. The pole vault has Coe-Brown’s Parker Eaton returning along with Lussier of Sanborn, Riley King and Lincoln Routheir of Bow and Ethan Bassette of Oyster River.
In the Shot Put, Pembroke’s James Dupuis had a forty foot toss back in the 2020 indoor meet to join other 40+ shot putters of Milford’s Caden Zalenski and Sanborn’s Nick Lucas. Discus sees Goffstown’s Peyton Strickland, Coe-Brown’s Tanner Wotton and Milford’s Zalenski again! The Javelin will be wide open as only one athlete remains from the 2019 D2 State Championship, Ezra Darling Souhegan
Regarding teams, while Coe-Brown will be defending their first ever boys championship, one cannot discount their Rt. 4 Rivals Oyster River who are the Indoor defending champs. Both teams are strong in the middle distance and distance events, so it will be how they do in the other events which will make the difference. When CBNA won in 2019, they pretty much split the points 50/50 between the field and track. Windham will also be a force as they have threats to score from the sprints to jumps to distance. And as with 2019, expect a surprise contender, possibly in the likes of a Hollis/Brookline, Merrimack Valley or Milford.