Are you ready? Despite the snow, the 2018 season will begin on Monday! Division 2 promises to be one heck-a-va battle for top team honors for both girls and boys. We at NHTF certainly are gearing up! The Kennett High School community is gearing up to host their second state championship meet! The preview includes the top returnees for each event, excluding relays. Enjoy!
Last year, Portsmouth won the team title by 10 points, with 26 points from the jumps and 49 points across the sprints and relays. And…they only lose one scorer to graduation. On paper, with just considering returning athletes from last year’s D2 meet and no relays, they also have a 20-point cushion. Easy favorite right? Upon further review however, how can one count out D2 Indoor Champions Souhegan, and the runner-up the last 2 track seasons, Milford? The Souhegan Lady Sabers are definitely distance heavy, however they do have a sprint and jump crew capable of putting together points of their own as evidenced by their indoor D2 4×200 winning relay. Last year, at preview time, Souhegan was poised to pull off the triple crown after winning the cross country and indoor titles; however, they finished tied for third. This year they are in the same position. Will they be the first team since the 2014-2015 Coe-Brown Lady Bears to pull off the triple crown?
Not only will they have to beat Portsmouth, but Milford may have the highest ceiling for improvement. Viankah Wlliams is almost fully back from hamstring issues evidenced by being the NH and New England Champ this past indoors in the long jump. With the emergence of Lauren Robinson in the distance events complimenting Rebecca Durham, the Lady Spartans could add another 30-40 points between individual events and resulting relays.
Last year as the season progressed, it became evident that Portsmouth was building a squad that could contend. This year’s surprise could by Oyster River. Returning over fifty points on paper, if they can add to their sprint prowess, they can certainly steal the show in North Conway.
D2, D2, D2!!! Can the competition be any better or at a higher level. Devan McClain and Amelia Concannon (Oyster River), Acadia Momm-White (Portsmouth), Corinne Robitaille (West), Viankah Williams (Milford) are all names you will see often. Where they end up and how many points are remains to be seen. We will say this, even with a compromised training schedule due to lingering hamstring issues Williams swept the 100 and 200 last year. After claiming supremacy in the indoor Long Jump, and seemingly close to being past the hamstring issues, just think about how dominant Williams can be! However, as Williams has been battling injuries, the D2 sprinters have gotten fast and are poised to challenge. McClain claimed the indoor 55, Robitaille won the 300, while Momm-White won the High Hurdles. All now are state champions and with that carries the confidence and pride commonly associated with said achievement! They will be tough! Don’t ignore the long sprint of the 400, as the Lady Bobcats of Oyster River seem to have a stranglehold on that event.
Spanning six events, this category can mean big points for teams rich with this type of athlete. We have already mentioned Momm-White and Williams, but don’t sleep on Kaitlyn Covell (MV), Georgia Dickinson (Porstmouth) or indoor 600 meter champion Elise Lambert (Souhegan) in the hurdle events. Look for Lambert in the HJ as well where she will have an uphill battle v. defending champion Mia Herrling (Pelham) and teammate Callie Lindsay. Sanborn sophomore Hannah Ehlers and Merrimack Valley’s Theresa Irving will also be threats clearing the bar. Leb’s Sophia Miller is someone to watch in both the Long and Triple, where she will attempt to unseat Windham’s Scarlett Scouter as the TJ champ. Then there is the Pole Vault, which sees Portsmouth with a trio of young returnees in Sarah Morin, Kate Weathersby, and Molly Perkins. Last year all three placed. Can they sweep the top three places this year?
Time to admit something NH! We have been spoiled in this category over the past 10 years. Rebecca Durham (Milford) and Julia Robitaille (West) are certainly continuing to carry the mantle as evidenced by their multiple state titles and representing NH in the most recent New Balance Nationals. Two of the best in NH history, they had an absolute war in the Indoor D2 State Championship 1500 which saw them separated by only .11! Both boast phenomenal range across all distance events, and both are national caliber.
Hoping to follow their lead will be Lauren Robinson (Milford), who quietly has emerged as the next best following her indoor campaign. This culminated with her tripling (3k, 1k, 1500) at a very high level demonstrating a strength we seldom see. Also looking to continue to make waves at D2s will Be Con-Val’s Rachel Hurley and Clare Veverka, Souhegan’s Jane Leighton, Marissa Romano, and Elise Lambert, as well as Hanover’s Leila Trummel, Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin, and Coe-Brown’s Abigail O’Connor and Addison Cox.
Last year Lebanon’s Kath Merchant for the second consecutive season claimed the triple crown in the throws winning all 3 events. There is no reason to think she cannot complete the three-peat! Of course as with last year, Coe-Brown’s Kathleen Collins and Sanborn’s Megan Sheehan represents her largest competition. Look for these three seniors to seesaw back and forth this coming spring.
Based on the Spring returnees and performances from the Indoor season, it looks we have 2 -3 teams in Portsmouth, Coe-Brown, and Windham favored to contend for the D2 title on the boys’ side. Let’s look at Coe-Brown first. It is remarkable they are contending as they were 2nd last year and lost a ton of talented seniors . However, they might have the only athlete in the division capable of a 30+ point States performance with Orion Clachar as the top seed and favorite in both the hurdle races and the javelin. Not to mention he might score in yet another open event or contribute to a scoring relay. With that as their starting point, they add points in the distance events, throws, relays, and the pole vault. The Bears look strong and know how to be at their best in big moments.
Challenging CBNA will be the Clippers of Portsmouth. What the Clippers lack in big up-front points from a single athlete, they make up for with a well-balanced team capable of scoring in almost every event. In fact because of their depth, they could draw even with Coe-Brown in the events where both are strong: Javelin, Hurdles, Discus, Mid-Distance, Pole Vault. Coe-Brown has the distinct edge in potential distance points but Portsmouth is traditionally strong in all three relays. This could lead to an extremely exciting meet where every point matters and it comes down to the last few events to decide a victor!
Windham is coming off an Indoor Championship with lots of speed and points in the throws ,relays, and of course distance. When a team is coming off an indoor championship with a distance stud in Spenser Sawyer as well as balance across the rest of a true track and field program, we have to count them as pre-season contender.
Do not count out Lebanon and Oyster River as potential top finishers as well. Lebanon’s throws and jumps account for a ton of points, OR looks like it could flood the distance events and get points in hurdles and jumps as well!
In the 100m and 200m, look for two names to rise to the top; Kashief Bogannam of Sanborn and Kyle Doucette of Hanover. Both are top 2 returnees in these events, and both look to have the speed and potential to win one or both races at the Championship Meet. However, watch for double trouble out of the Windham camp, as both Donovan Hopkins and Matthew Garafano will be looking to repeat their success from the Indoor season (1-2 in the Indoor Championships 55m). Izaiah Barba of Portsmouth and Plymouth’s Jordan Docen should also be in the mix for both sprint events. Known for hurdles and Javelin primarily, Orion Clachar of Coe-Brown had a great Indoor season in the 55m dash and the 300m, so don’t be surprised to see him potentially turn up here.
The 400m looks very wide open this year as the top 4 returnee’s D2 times are separated by only 8 tenths of a second. Stephen Duckett of Trinity looks to have a slight edge; he won the 300m indoors this season by almost a full second. Brandon St Onge from Goffstown was close behind in 3rd in that 300m, and he is the #2 returner from last year’s 400m. Sean Leahy (also from Goffstown) and Oyster River’s Connor Manning are right there in the hunt as well, both also placing in the indoor 300m this year. Sanborn’s Bogannam is capable of a sub 51 second 400m and is a definite threat as well if he decides to race this event.
In the 800m, Portsmouth’s Ryan Prinz is the number one returnee by 3 seconds and looks to stay on top of this event after an injury-plagued indoor season. However, Sawyer of Windham had an outstanding Indoor season (1st 1000m, 2nd 1500m) and has become a top tier mid-distance / distance runner. Sawyer looks dangerous in every distance event he chooses to run and has the proven ability to score big at a championship meet in multiple events. Colm Seigne from Hanover cannot be left out here; he won the 600m indoors and is the #3 returnee in the 800m. Watch for Oyster River’s Owen Fleischer as well; he showed flashes of greatness during the indoor season in the 4x800m and 1000m.
The 1600m and the 3200m look to be swarming with Coe-Brown and Oyster River athletes to no one’s surprise! Oyster River’s Kieran Murphy won the 3000m indoor and was 3rd in the 1500m. He looks to be a real contender in the comparable outdoor events as well. His teammates Max Stensile, Owen Fleischer, and Andy O’Brien all have the ability to score in both events if entered. Evan Tanguay of Coe-Brown looks like he’s shooting for at least the 3200 title and is joined by teammates and freshmen Wyatt Mackey and Luke Tkaczyk, who have shown they can compete on a big stage. OR and CB are not the only teams in the mix however, this distance field is stacked and looks like it has parity throughout. Windham’s Sawyer had a breakout year indoors as previously mentioned and posted a top of the line time in the 3000m. He is extremely versatile and is a co-favorite at worst to win any race from the 800m to the 3200m. And we cannot forget or discount Cameron Starr who was hit with health issues this indoor season, trained and raced sparingly and still won the 1500m in electrifying fashion! Starr is the #1 returnee in the 1600m and the 3200m. David Reynolds from Merrimack Valley put together a very good Indoor season and was 2nd in the 3000m. He is the #4 returnee in the 3200m and is a very good miler as well.
The #1 and #2 returnees in the 110m Hurdles were also the #1 and #2 finishers in the indoor 55m Hurdles. Clachar of Coe-Brown and Will Fahey of Portsmouth. They are a cut above the rest of the field and might just have to battle each other for the title. Chasing them will be Noah Cote of Oyster River, and a large pack from Portsmouth including Jack Finneral, Brian O’Malley and Ryan Gonzales.
In the 300m Hurdles, Clachar looks to be a strong favorite with 2 seconds over the next best returnee. But Patrick Kalob of Plymouth, Brian O’Malley and Ryan Gonzales both of Portsmouth, as well as Kyshaun Rowell from Coe-Brown won’t make it easy for him.
The High Jump looks pretty top heavy with Lebanon’s Ryan Sullivan as the top returner at 6’4”. Not far behind are a slew of excellent jumpers: Sam Ebner from Plymouth, Oyster River’s Sidonio LaBelle, Camden Donovan from Merrimack Valley, and Will Fahey of Portsmouth. The High Jump is all about who is feeling it on the big day and any of these five athletes could come out on top.
The Pole Vault has William Shepard from Milford as the prohibitive favorite, with a full foot clearance above any of the other returnees. Coe-Brown’s Tyler Troy and Portsmouth’s Chris Mood look to be the next in line, and Kirk Badger from Kennett is certainly in the mix as well.
In the Long Jump, Lebanon’s Ryan Sullivan has a jump over two feet better than the next best returnee! It will take a lot to de-throne him. St. Onge from Goffstown, Manning from Oyster River, and Kennett’s Chris Caputo all should be shooting for those next spots. Someone new always comes on the scene and surprises everyone, so don’t be surprised if a new face on the scene cracks the top 3.
Ebner from Plymouth has a 2 ½ foot edge over the next best returnee In the Triple Jump and looks to be the guy to beat. Vedin Fowler from John Stark is the #2 returnee and after those two guys the field looks wide open. Last year, Trinity got a sneaky 6 points in the TJ that were huge towards their eventual team title by only 3 points. This might be the place to try new athletes out and see who rises to the challenge.
Lebanon’s Marcus Roper is the consensus favorite in the Shot Put with 9 feet over his next best returnee from spring. However Milford’s Michael Boucher, James Williams of Windham, and Con-Val’s Ryan Murray, all throwing much better than last year based on their Indoor performances, are looking to close that gap. Look for sophomore Thor Griffith of Portsmouth to have an impact on the shot put landscape as well.
In the Discus Portsmouth’s Harrison Flagg is the top returnee but Coe-Brown’s Jonathan Thorn, Lebanon’s Marcus Roper, and Souhegan’s Dean Paquette all are tightly bunched and the future discus champ is very uncertain.
Coe-Brown’s Clachar is the early favorite in the javelin, uncorking a monster PR at MOC last year. Merrimack Valley’s Nick Bartlett and Portsmouth’s Flagg are also talented throwers. This might be another event with much uncertainty and potential for new names to come on the scene.
Who knows? Seriously, it’s way too early to predict any relay scenarios, but here are some vague generalities that seem to hold true in recent years:
Windham will have a fast 4x100m, so will Oyster River, Lebanon, Portsmouth and Sanborn. Windham, Portsmouth and Oyster River will have good 4x400s and the 4x800m will be populated with teams from Oyster River, Coe-Brown, Portsmouth, and Merrimack Valley. Look for a surprise relay team or two that no one expects; Hanover’s 4x400m, Trinity’s 4x800m and who knows who else?
Looking forward to this season and seeing athletes and teams making these predictions look foolish and uninformed! Good luck and good health to everyone out there.
Here at NHTF, we love stats, and we can’t wait for the season to start to get some more data. So we took a look at last year’s divisional meets and thought we would score them without the seniors. Now the numbers are a great baseline, but do not account for everything; they don’t even include any relays. On top of that, you still need to account for injuries, DQ’s, transfers, people trying new events, improvements, freshmen, events that aren’t filled up, and so much more.