By Mike Smith
After a two year reprieve due to Covid, the Wilderness League championships are scheduled for Saturday, May 21st, beginning at 9am at Gilford High School. Started fifty years ago, the WL championships have been one of the highlights for the Lakes region in the runup to Divisional championships. Some teams focus on winning the WL team titles, while others look to tune up for Divisionals, but regardless of the intent, the competition (and the weather) will be hot. Here’s what to watch for!
Sprints & Hurdles
In the sprints Kennett’s Aida Wheat occupies the top spot in the 200 and the #2 spot in the 100, with Belmont’s Emma Winslow the #1 seed. Plymouth’s Katherine Luehrs who is the top seed in the 100 hurdles sits in the #2 spot for the 200. Newfound’s Molly Lu McKellar is the second seed in the High Hurdles. Lauren McPhee of Kingswood and Newfound’s Stacia Paul are 1-2 in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles and the only ladies under 52 seconds.
Mid Distance & Distance
In the 400, Kennett’s Piper Lopashanski is the top seed by over a second and a half, however she’ll already have the 800 in her legs where she’s the #2 seed. PCA’s Brianna Malone, one of the state’s top runners across all divisions, is the top seed in the 800, with a 12 second cushion back to Lopashanski. Rumor is she wants the D3 record. Will it fall Saturday?
Moultonborough’s Adah Chapman is the top seed in the 3200 and the #2 seed in the 1600, with hometown hero Cat Stow the top seed in the 1600. Kearsarge’s Laela Moran is the #2 seed in the 3200 but everyone’s biggest competition in these events will likely come from the day’s temperature.
In high jump both Malina Bohlmann of Newfound and Amelia Lefebvre of Kearsarge have jumped 4-10 this season and Bohlmann and teammate Taylor Mooney to the pole vault at 7-6. Bohlmann is also the top seed again in the long jump, with almost a 4 inch advantage over Lopashanski of Kennett. Triple jump is the one event without Bohlmann, but it does have four athletes over 31 feet with InterLakes Sara Harris a two inch advantage over Belmont’s Jada Edgren.
Paulina Huckins (great name for a shot putter!) of Newfound leads the event by more than half a foot over Mascoma Valley’s Opal Shinnlinger. However Schinnlinger is the top seed in disc (by more than 10 feet) with Newfound’s Isabelle LaPlume sitting in second. In javelin, Newfound’s Bohlmann is once again the top seed with the only throw over 100 feet and almost a twelve foot advantage.
Kennett is the top seed in the 4×800, with a ten second cushion back to Gilford. Kennett, Belmont and Newfound (in that order) are the only teams under 54 in the 4×100. Kingswood is 8 seconds better than both Kennett and Kearsarge in the 4×400.
With two different divisions coming together for this one, getting a great grasp on the team title is a little tough. Kennett is stronger across the running events but Newfound has most events covered and leads in the jumps and throws categories. I see one of the two of these your winner.
Sprints & Hurdles
A year ago I was surprised by Portsmouth Christian’s Tim Kelm seemingly coming out of nowhere to take the D3 title in the 100 as a freshman. Now a big name not only in D3, Kelm doesn’t get the benefit of surprise and is the top seed in the 100. Both Bishop Brady’s Josh Gentchos and Kearsarge’s JJ Davis are under the 11.50 mark and will like to challenge the rest of the way. Mascoma Valley’s Logan Gilmore is the top seed in the 200 but on a time run in the first meet of the season. It will be interesting to see if InterLake’s Owen Carney and Belmont’s Colby Vetter can unseat him.
Cole Ahern of Plymouth leads all 110 high hurdlers with almost a 1.5 second cushion over White Mountain’s Elijah Beaulieu. In the 300 hurdles, Gilford’s Aiden Malek is the only one under 45 seconds and half a second up on Kennett’s Tyler McCluskey.
Mid Distance & Distance
In the 400, we see Owen Carney and JJ Davis back from the 200 and 100 to go head to head in this one, both seeded with a 50.34, the only two under 51 seconds so far this season. The Great (Patrick) Gandini is the top seed in the 800 over Kennett’s Kylan Morneau, the only two under 2:10 this season so far.
Gandini’s back as the top seed in the 1600, favored by almost 15 seconds over PCA’s Jonas Teeter. Without Gandini contesting the 3200, Newfound’s Connor Downes is the #1 seed with Belmont’s Will Riley #2.
We have our athletes having cleared 5-10 in the high jump, with Winnisquam’s Aidan Donahue, Plymouth’s Cole Ahern, Newfound’s Malaki Ingram and Kingswood’s Emerson DeNitto. Ahern is back in pole vault, clearing 10-0 along with Newfound’s Dalton Dion and White Mountain’s Elijah Beaulieu. Curtis Smoker of Plymouth is the only long jumper over 20 feet with Gilford’s Anthony Haddocks the only triple jumper over 40 feet.
Newfound’s Brady Maclean might be the beneficiary of three different trips going on this weekend as he’s the top spot putter by almost a foot over Kingswood’s Alexander Marks. Trevor Sanschargrin of Newfound leads disc by five feet over multi event Ahern of Plymouth. Kingswood’s Caleb Russo leads Gilford’s Isaiah Reese by just more than five feet in javelin with a throw over 150 feet.
Top seed in the 4×800 is Mascenic, over Kingswood by 27 seconds. In the 4×100 the top entry is Kearsarge, 4/10ths of a second better than Bishop Brady. In the 4×400 , Prospect Mountain has almost a 2 second advantage over Gilford and 4 over InterLakes.
I don’t see any clear winner in this one. Belmont, Kearsarge, Newfound, Plymouth and Kingswood have entries scattered across a lot of the events while Gilford and Bishop Brady have some sure points here and there. I’m not making a prediction other than I think this will be close over the top four or five teams, making the 4×400 outcome all that more important.