By Scott Maxwell
It’s been an exciting winter season of track and field action, but who doesn’t love getting back outside to the green grass, sunshine, and full range of running and field events that spring track has to offer?! There will be some noticeable changes this spring, as perennial powerhouse Windham has moved up to Division I, while an always competitive Sanborn program moves down to Division III. Given the holes left by graduation, and the loss of Windham and Sanborn, some of the events are completely up for grabs! It’s an exciting time…let’s get this party started!!
Sprints and Hurdles
We should see some serious competition in the sprints this year, as the top 6 scorers from the 100m return from last year’s division championship! Kennett’s Aida Wheat is back as the reigning queen of Division II, returning for her junior season looking to defend her 100m and 200m titles. Looking to unseat the champ will be Coe-Brown’s Anushka Chavda and Kingswood’s Lauren MacPhee and Kylie Rapoza (indoor 300m champ). Add Con-Val’s Tasha MacNeil and Milford’s Keely Giordano (indoor 55m runner-up) to the mix, and we should see an intense final! Look for those same girls to double back in the 200m as well, as Wheat and Chavda are the returning champ and runner-up there and will certainly not go down without a fight.
Coe-Brown’s Natalie Sicard is the top returner in the 100m Hurdles, while Oyster River’s Erin Carty looks to retain her crown after dominating the 300m hurdles in DII last season.
If you’ve been following cross country and indoor track this year, you certainly won’t be surprised to see the runners to watch in this year’s middle and distance events! Oyster’s River’s sensational sophomores Haley Kavanaugh (‘22 800m champ, 1600m runner-up) and Mackenzie Cook (indoor 1500m runner-up), along with Talia Bonafato, will rack up some huge points for the Bobcats. Following last year’s breakout season, Coe-Brown’s star Sheldyn Fisher (‘22 1600m champ) and Bow’s Maya Brochu (‘22 3200m runner-up) will most definitely be battling it out at the front of the pack. We are also hopeful to see the return of Bow’s Susanna Zahn (‘22 3200m champ), who was in position for NH Runner of the Year honors this fall before being sidelined with an injury just as the championship season began. If healthy and able to return to form, she has the potential to be one of the top runners in New England this spring.
Last year’s jumps were dominated by upperclassmen, leaving a void looking to be filled! 2022 runner-up in High Jump, Goffstown’s Penelope Annis is the top returner with a solid 5’0”, with Souhegan’s Ashereka Primmer soaring in just behind her with 4’10”. In the Pole Vault, Pelham’s Gabrielle Minuti, Con-Val’s Elise Robbins, and Oyster River’s Sophie Durant all come into the season having cleared 8’0” and will look to fly high to score a spot on this year’s podium. The Long Jump also appears to be wide open (on paper), with Coe-Brown’s Josephine Malloy (3rd in ‘22) and Milford’s Ellianna Nassy (4th in ‘22) as the top returners and aiming to score some crucial team points. In the Triple Jump, Plymouth’s Sydney Valenti (3rd in ‘22) is the preseason favorite, followed closely by Coe-Brown’s Sicard and Malloy.
Defending Shot Put champion (indoor and outdoor) Kylie Allen of Milford is back for her senior season and is the clear cut favorite in the event. Her winning toss from 2022 of 34’ is over 5 feet ahead of the next best returner from last year’s field! Victoria Leak of Merrimack Valley (3rd in ‘22, 4th at MOC) is the headliner of this year’s discus and will look to take down her first individual championship. Con-Val’s top sprinter Tasha MacNeil will look to show her range and she is back as this year’s top returner in the Javelin.
On paper, there are two teams that seem to be clear-cut favorites to take home the hardware this spring…Oyster River and Coe-Brown. Both squads have serious depth and will score points all over the track and field. Milford, Kennett and Kingswood should also be in the mix, as they definitely have the speed, strength, athleticism and depth to quickly tally up points across all events.
Graduation has taken all 6 of last year’s scorers from the 100m final, so this year appears to be wide open (on paper)! Injured before last year’s final, Oyster River’s stud sprinter Ty Dorow returns as the clear favorite. Having blasted a personal best 11.25 in the 2022 prelims, cruising to victory in the 300m indoor championship, and running a sub-50” 400m last spring, Dorow could potentially pull off an uber-impressive 3-peat in the sprints this season depending on which events he chooses to enter! Next in line we should see sophomore sensations Ben Hoesch of Hollis-Brookline and Kendrick Edwards from Con-Val, who both had impressive debuts as freshmen at last year’s DII Championships.
Plymouth’s Cole Ahern is the top returner in the 110m High Huddles, but don’t be surprised to see Souhegan’s much-improved Cole Henderson and Oyster River’s Cayden Giordani up front as well. The 300m Hurdles will see the return of last year’s runner-up Adam Holodowski of Milford and Nicholas LaMontagne of Lebanon. Again, graduation has left a huge gap through the rest of the field, and should make for interesting competition as we get into the season!
The Mid-D and Distance squads will be back in full force this year. I expect Coe-Brown to pull down some major points from 400 up through the 3200! Jamie Lano (indoor 1000m champ) joins the squad for his first outdoor track season, and will certainly make an immediate impact! Also, recent DII 600m Champ Gavin Demas is back, along with breakout All-Stater Matthew Corriveau. Mr. All American Aidan Cox is no surprise the top returner in the 1600m and is the current DII record holder in the 3200m. If this winter was any indication, Aidan could take a serious run at Eli Moskowitz’s 3200m state record of 8:44! Add in Tyler Tkaczyk (4th in ‘22), and the points will be racking up fast and furious! Hoping to be back from injury and leading the way is last year’s 3200m champ Birhanu Harriman of Lebanon. Other runners to keep an eye on are Hanover’s Lucian Gleiser (NE 1000m runner-up) who seems to have found his niche in the middle distance events, as has teammate Mack Levy (800m runner-up in ‘22), Ryan Burgher of Hollis-Brookline, Chris Jernigan of Oyster River, and Thomas Wolfe of Lebanon.
The jumps were so heavily dominated last season by seniors, that it’s going to be exciting to see which new stars arise to take the top spots. One sure thing is the return of 2022 outdoor and 2023 indoor High Jump champ Ian Solberg of Hanover. Clearing 6’8” this winter, with the next best returner at 5’10”, Solberg is clearly in the driver’s seat. Zachary Blades and Wyatt Olofson of Coe-Brown return in Pole Vault and will look to improve off of there 3rd and 4th place finishes last season! Top returner Rio Calle of John Stark had a great freshman campaign in Long Jump, and expect to him step it up during this sophomore season. The Triple Jump is also wide open! Look for Kingswood’s Emerson Denitto and Coe-Brown’s Carl Peters to be in the mix!
Another area that was senior-heavy last season, the throws are going to see some fresh blood on the scoreboard this spring. Lebanon’s Tanner Ames, fresh off his DII Indoor Shot Put Championship, is the man to beat in both shot and disc! Milford’s Keagan Hatch, Coe-Brown’s Zachary Bistany, and Kingswood’s Caleb Russo are also athletes to watch as the season gets underway!
Once again, it looks like Coe-Brown will have an incredible mix of depth in the mid-distance and distance events, and also return some key performers across all the field events. With points rolling in from all over, the Black Bears are going to be tough to beat! Oyster River has a few top individuals and always seem to put things together at just the right time. Look for the Bobcats to be in prime position for runner-up hardware. Other interesting teams to watch are Lebanon with their throws and distance strength and Hanover with their jumps and mid-distance. I would be surprised to see any other team crack the top 4…but crazier things have happened!
Good luck to all!