NHIAA Track: Pinkerton boys work for Division I championship
By JOE DUBALL New Hampshire Union Leader
Pinkerton's Noah Woodman, shown taking the baton in last year's 4x400 relay during the NHIAA Division I Track Meet, anchored a win for the Astros in the 4x400 relay at this year's Division I meet on Friday, and added an individual win in the 400. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER FILE)
MERRIMACK - The Pinkerton Academy boys' track and field team was in search of a 13th combined Division I title, between outdoor and indoor seasons, as it entered Friday's D-I outdoor title meet at Merrimack High.
The Astros were staring down adversity in a number of ways heading into the meet but rose to the occasion by snaring several first-place finishes, including the last two events scored in the meet to repeat as champions with a 121-94 win over runner-up Concord. Exeter won the girls' side of the meet, as it squeaked past Nashua South 109-103.
Pinkerton led Concord by just three points through 12 of 18 events before winning three events and having multiple scorers in the final six events. The Astros' late wins came from Jadyn Ruimwijk (200-meter dash), John King (javelin) and and the 4x400-meter relay team of Ruimwijk, Noah Woodman, Pat Hanlon and Adam Spencer.
"Sometimes we go into things just knowing we're going to just outright win," Pinkerton boys' coach Carol Quarles said. It was the fifth outdoor crown overall for the Astros. "But then you don't know like today and then you know you've made a few mistakes here and there. . It's obviously pretty sweet when you really have to work for it like this."
Ruimwijk was right in the thick of things for Pinkerton, he registered three wins overall with a win in the 100 dash to go with his wins down the stretch of the meet in the 200 dash and 4x400 relay. The senior was a big part of the adversity weighing on the Astros coming into Friday as he hadn't been in a competitive race in almost two weeks.
"I pulled my hamstring about a week-and-a-half ago and have sat out ever since until today," Ruimwijk said. "We did a lot of cryogenic work the whole week to really get it to where I wanted it to be and it did feel better."
Quarles said Ruimwijk looked hesitant while opening the meet with the 100 dash trials, but the senior left his fears and the field in the dust with a 10.98-second finish.
"I wasn't even thinking about a time, to be honest," said Ruimwijk, who won the 100 dash last spring. "I was just trying to win. Didn't want to lose my last state run in the 100 so I just pushed myself as hard as I could."
Woodman added a win in the 400 dash (48.96) to go along with his leg in the 4x400 win for Pinkerton. The senior anchored the relay win and Quarles felt his work was most crucial in ending up 2.35 seconds better than Bedford's team.
"He went and got the baton in second place, but he's one of those athletes that you go 'I'm not even worried about this,'" Quarles said. "I knew he would just kill it in the end. He's a workhorse while being strong and fast."
Among the other top individual performances was a record-tying performance from Winnacunnet of Hampton's Billy Powers in the 110 hurdles. Powers, who won the 300 hurdles as well on Friday, posted a run of 14.00 to tie a mark set in 2011. Other double winners among the boys were Exeter's Jake Winslow (800 run and 1,600 run) and Londonderry's Patrick Hagearty (discus and shot put). Concord had teams win the 4x100 and 4x800 relays.
Exeter took its first girls' team championship since 2012 with multi-win efforts from distance running star Jackie Gaughan and hurdler Ellie Johnston. However, what pushed the Blue Hawks over the edge was a fourth-place finish in the 4x400 relay from the freshman quartet of Autumn Agri, Ella Fraser, Payton O'Donnell and Grace Mercier. Nashua South, which picked up two points in fifth place in the 4x400, could've swooped in for a late win if not for Exeter's freshman quartet.
"We were nervous but excited," Exeter co-coach Nate Leveille said. "We knew they had done it before, but obviously not at D-Is. Very nice to see them come through."
Gaughan added to her NHIAA running lore with wins in the 800 and 3,200 runs while taking second to Bishop Guertin's Caroline Fischer in the 1,600 run. The senior bested her own Division-I meet record in the 3,200 run with a 10:14.25 finish while lapping the majority of the field on the way to winning by over a minute.
"To run those three races is really a big deal at this meet," Exeter co-coach Laura Smith said. "That's a big triple, but she's strong and she can do it. She showed us all that tonight."
Smith pointed to Johnston's sweep of the 100 and 300 hurdles as no small feat and equally as important as Gaughan's effort. The senior took the 100 hurdles by .30 seconds over South's Sydney Lewis while winning the 300 hurdles by 1.37 seconds.
Concord's Grace Devanny and Dover's Sarah Williams were the only others to win multiple events among the girls. Devanny won the 200 dash (25.56) and the 400 dash (56.80) after being favored in both. Williams took first in the shot put (36 feet, 2.75 inches) and the discus (112-09).