A handful of athletes, led by Betsy Garnick and Hillary Holmes, will attempt to defend their titles as the annual NHIAA Meet of Champions is contested at Londonderry on Saturday afternoon.
At the recent Division I Championship Meet, Garnick, of Nashua’s Bishop Guertin, the MOC’s 110-meter hurdles defending champion, established a state record in the short hurdles with a blistering 14.48. That performance wiped out Alison Poulin’s (Oyster River, Durham) prior mark of 14.52, which stood for 23 years.
Three weeks ago, Garnick captured the pentathlon at the Loucks Games in White Plains, N.Y., where she won three individual events and posted a career-best 14.36 in the 100 hurdles.
Garnick is also a 300-hurdles stalwart, but her friend and nemesis, Holmes of Exeter, may stand in the way of a hurdles sweep for the BG junior.
At the 2012 MOC, Garnick finished second in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 45.72. At last week’s D-I Meet, she ran to a runner-up 44.95. The D-I victor? Holmes, in 44.81.
Holmes is the MOC defending champion in the triple jump, and her winning distance in the long jump at the D-I Meet makes her the top seed in both events.
In addition, her 44.81 long hurdles is the best time from last weekend’s division meets.
A year ago, Holmes ran second to Garnick in the 100-hurdles, and at the recent D-I Meet Holmes was just 0.06 off Garnick’s winning state record time.
Holmes capped her winter indoor season by earning All-America honors with a third-place finish in the pentathlon (second in the long jump) at the New Balance National Indoor Meet at the Armory in New York City.
Garnick may also compete in the 100-meter dash, where she ran 0.01 behind Nashua South’s Arashana Yanes last week, 12.48-12.49. Yanes is the MOC’s defending champion in the 100 and she ended second last year in the 200.
Adding more to the mix, Yanes inched beyond Holmes in the long jump at the 2011 MOC before being edged by the Exeter senior at the 2012 D-I meet.
Two other girls, Victoria Rozumek of Salem and Jacilyn Briggs of Keene, are also attempting to defend their MOC gold medals.
Rozumek cleared the bar at 5-feet, six-inches a year ago, and she matched that height at the D-I competition. No other jumper in the state cleared that height last weekend.
Briggs, meanwhile, added two inches to her MOC winning pole vault of a year ago with a D-I best 10-8 vault. Only one other vaulter in the state, Lucia Martin of Swanzey’s Monadnock, cleared 10 feet in the division contests.
Bishop Guertin middle distance runners Sarah Burke and Molly McCabe expect to head the field in their races. Burke has the top 800 time (2:17.18) heading to Saturday, while McCabe, who won the 800 last year, will compete in the 1600. Her biggest challenger will be Hannah Parker of Northwood’s Coe-Brown.
In the boys’ meet, Lebanon’s Mike Cyphers is gearing to give the Cyphers family its fourth consecutive pole vault crown. Cyphers is the defending champion, and his brother Josh (Dartmouth) won the event in 2009 and 2010. Mike Cyphers cleared the bar at 14-9 last year and won the D-II Meet with a jump of 14-7.
Though not defending a current MOC title, Salem sprinter Jerickson Fedrick won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the big meet in 2010. He did not compete in 2011, but returns Saturday with D-I laurels in both events. He was the only 100 sprinter under 11 seconds at the division meets, and he and Cyphers were the lone sprinters under 23 seconds in the 200.
Portsmouth’s Bill Lane and Plymouth’s Mike Maclean are also seeking to make it two-in-a-row.
Lane copped the 400-meter dash in 50.43 a year ago, and he will be pressed for a second gold by Eric Tahtamoni of Salem (49.40, D-I), Tanner Kent of Amherst’s Souhegan (49.84, D-II) and Jonathan Vinnenberg of Bow (51.56, D-III).
Maclean, meanwhile, posted a 1:56.76 last year, and won the D-II Meet this year in 1:57.24. However, Chris Poggi of Derry’s Pinkerton owns a 1:55.25 D-I gold.
Ahtletes who can make first-time MOC winner’s-circle appearances include Nashua North’s Mike Lynch in the shot put and the discus, and teammate Devin Motivala along with Manchester Central’s Dylan Lafond in the distance events. South high jumper Kevin Shea tied a D-I record with a 6-6 high jump last weekend, and the top distance in the triple jump from the division meets is his.
Romario Bailey of Claremont’s Stevens won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at the D-III Meet. He is capable of winning any of those races again Saturday.