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By Mike Smith – Mascenic
Doing the Indoor Track preview comes with its fair share of difficulties; from athletes that compete in outdoor that do basketball, injuries, freshmen that don’t run cross country, big break throughs in outdoor that weren’t identified during indoor, and the fact that indoor distances don’t translate to what is run outdoors. While picking the winners can be difficult with a year having passed since last season, we’re going to give it our best shot.
While her results don’t show up in last year’s indoor results, if Milford’s Viankah Williams comes out for indoor, expect her to be a force in the shorter events. Winning both the 100 and 200 in 2017 outdoors, she should be in the driver’s seat. Souhegan’s Abby Cranney is the top returner in both the 55 and 300, but look for Acadia Momm-White of Portsmouth, Xiana Twombly and Devan McClain of Oyster River and Madison Parrott of Fall Mountain and Dominique Biron of Bow (both from D3) could be factors if they run indoor. In the 55 Hurdles, Momm-White as well as Merrimack Valley’s Kaityn Covell hold a distinct advantage with the graduation of Corinne Kennedy.
With Kristie Schoffield, Corinne Kennedy and Madeline Hunt all graduated, there has been some room created for a new champion of the mid-d events to emerge. Basing off of outdoors as well as indoor returnees, Oyster River has two long sprinters in Amelia Concannon and Eleanor Zwart looking to fill the void. We have to include with Souhegan’s Marissa Romano, Jane Leighton, and Elise Lambert, Portsmouth’s Zoe Frizzell, Raymond’s Anna Harmon, Portsmouth’s Ellen Baker and Moultonborough’s Rebecca Velie should she decide to run.
The distance events have two standouts that should reign supreme over the rest of the field in Milford’s Rebecca Durham and West’s Julia Robitialle. Things should get interesting should they decide to tussle, with Durham potentially faster in the shorter distance and Robitialle showing she can run with the best in the country at the 5K distance. Other names to watch would be Jane Leighton should she decide to move up in distance, Arielle Zlotnick of Souhegan, the duo of Claire Ververka and Rachel Hurley of ConVal. One can’t overlook Durham’s new teammate, Lauren Robinson as she made some noise in cross country as well as Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox. Depending on which events she settles on, expect Corinne Robitialle to be a factor as well.
In the 4×200 and 4×400 relays, Oyster River is the defending champion and with no seniors from last year on either squad, it would be silly to bet against them. Milford won the 4×800 with Souhegan in second, but it seems that Souhegan returns everyone and maybe should be considered the favorite. Portsmouth always seems to have strong relays every year as well.
Last year three returning athletes cleared the same height of 5-2 but Pelham’s Mia Herrling won over Hannah Ehlers of Sanborn and Elise Lambert on count backs. These three would seem to make up your top three; however, if Bow’s Dominque Biron were to do indoors, she has better clearances than the other three. In the long jump, Momm-White would be a slight favorite over Twombly with Biron again as the spoiler if she were to compete in indoor.
If there was a sure bet in the D2 girls meet it would likely be Kath Merchant of Lebanon in the shot put. She won indoor last winter by almost three feet and outdoor by almost two. While the solid favorite, Megan Sheehan of Sanborn, Maddie Buchalski of St. Thomas, and Kathleen Collins of Coe Brown will be looking for the upset.
Souhegan won the title last year on the back of their distance squad by 18 points over Portsmouth. While Souhegan may have lost some points with the graduation of Madeline Hunt, they still have a strong distance squad and might have enough fire power to get it done. Lebanon finished third, seven points behind Portsmouth and will be looking to move up. With a young squad that now has some championship experience, expect Oyster River to be in the mix as well. Also, do not count out Milford, especially if Williams returns.
With Sebastian Eaton graduated, a huge vacuum in the sprints has been created and we’ll have to see who is ready to step in and fill the void. Potentially the most unlikely answer comes from Hanover’s Kyle Doucette, a sophomore who is the fastest returning 100 and 200 meter runner in D2, but didn’t run indoor last year. If he doesn’t come out, expect Sanborn’s Kashief Bogannam or Bow’s Brian Bushnell to try to step in and take command. In the hurdles, look for Coe-Brown’s Orion Clachar and Portsmouth’s Will Fahey to duke it out.
With Tim Zepf and Zach Richards and a host of others lost to graduation, there is plenty of room for new faces in the mid distance events. Using last year’s results it seems Windham’s Spenser Sawyer, Portsmouth’s Ryan Prinz, and Campbell’s Jeffrey Allen are in the best position to capitalize on the loss of last year’s seniors.
If you looked at last year’s results you’d think that it would be Cameron Starr of Pelham’s year, but we was injured all fall. If he’s healthy, he should be the man to beat. The aforementioned Allen, Coe Brown’s Evan Tanguay, Oyster River’s Henry Keegan and Kieran Murphy, and MV’s David Reynolds all look to step in and fill the void left by OR’s Patrick O’Brien graduation if Starr doesn’t run.
Last year, Trinity dominated the two shorter sprint relays but with the loss of their big guns there should be a new team at the top of the relay pile. Keep an eye on Hanover as they might have the most accomplished returning squad. While Pelham pulled a come from behind win in the 4 x 800 on a heroic second leg by Cam Starr that took them from last to second, with two seniors and two athletes we haven’t seen run in a while, expect Portsmouth to look to assume the top spot. At the same time strong cross country teams usually equal strong 4×800 teams, so don’t overlook Oyster River or Coe-Brown in this event either.
Ryan Sullivan of Lebanon and Luke Leonard of Windham are two of the top returning jumpers in both the long and the high jump. Add in D3 athletes, Trevor Gomes of Campbell and Ben Zuang of PCA, we have a 20 ft+ field in the long jump, and possibly Hopkinton’s Kevin McGrath and you have 6 ft+ high jump field.
Top returning thrower is Lebanon’s Marcus Roper, besting the rest of the returners by two feet. However Roper had a monster spring, winning the D2 outdoor championships with a 51ft+ heave, five feet longer than Newport’s Peter Thibault.
Last year Trinity won on the backs of Eaton, Zepf and Oliver Thomas, all who have graduated, throwing the door wide open for a new champion. Based upon returners, led by Sullivan, Petin and Roper, Lebanon appears to have the slight advantage with Windham and Portsmouth not too far behind. Every year Merrimack Valley seems to put something together to be a factor while Coe-Brown finished fifth last year, but with some up and coming distance talent can the scramble for enough points to challenge the front? And don’t count out Oyster River who finished sixth last year, and returns a strong distance squad as well.