NHIAA Boys' Indoor Track preview: DeForest-Bailey rivalry highlights season
Even before the first indoor meet of the season has been held, the rivalry between Souhegan of Amherst junior Ben DeForest and Stevens of Claremont senior Romario Bailey is the highlight of the season.
And for good reason.
DeForest earned a berth on the New Hampshire Union Leader's indoor all-state team last winter when he won state laurels in the 55-meter hurdles with a division-best 8.17. In the spring, DeForest claimed division accolades in the 110-meter hurdles with a championship time of 15.18.
At the 2011-12 D-II indoor meet, Bailey ran second to DeForest in the 55 hurdles by a mere 0.09 seconds. In May, Bailey, who garnered a spot on the UL's spring all-state team and whose Stevens team competed at the D-III meet, won his 110 hurdles race in 15:19.
No returning hurdler this season has a better time in the 55 hurdles than either of these two. Their dual is easily the competition of the season.
Bailey, the NH Gatorade New Hampshire spring track and field Athlete of the Year, has the opportunity to tally 30 individual points for the Cardinals at the D-II championships. He is the preseason top seed in the 55 dash, and his 37.25 was just 0.02 slower than Justin Prindle of Litchfield's Campbell at this meet last season.
The division's top field competitor, however, is Lebanon's John Cioffrredi. At last season's championships, Cioffredi copped the high jump with a 6-foot, 2-inch leap, and his 20 feet-1.25 in the long jump makes him the preseason top seed.
In the distance events, little more than two seconds separates the four top-returning thinclads in the 600-meter run. Souhegan senior Jacob Kittredge leads the returnees with a 2011-12 of 1:25.36, while fellow seniors Caleb Loiselle (Fall Mountain of Langdon) and Nathan Kittredge (Souhegan) along with junior Brendan Polichronopoulos are strong contenders.
Sophomore Eli Moskowitz, who helped the Souhegan boys' cross country team to its first-ever Division II championship, is the top returner in the 1,500, and Wesley Hutton of Durham's Oyster River and Ryan Hinrichs of Souhegan (also cross country runners) head the 1,000 and 3,000 fields respectively.
The division will feature new champions in every event as 2011-12 featured a senior-dominated lineup of standouts. In fact, this year's preseason top seeds include just three athletes who earned runner-up finishes last February.
This season, strong-man Mike Lynch of Nashua North is the division's premier shot putter. His 47-11.5 put last winter garnered a silver medal, but he improved his distance by 4 feet (52-1), winning at the spring Meet of Champions.
Bedford, which joins D-I this season, will send last year's D-II indoor shot put champion, Joseph Thibeault, into the circle.
Thibeault tossed the shot 48-5.75 last winter, but was manhandled by Lynch by six feet at the MOC.
Manchester West senior long jumper Cameron Brownlie was second as was distance runner Aaron Bellomo of Alvirne in the 1,500. Bellomo earned a berth on the newspaper's cross country all-state team this past season.
The division's best competition may come in the 600-meter run where Connor Kwiecien (Pinkerton of Derry junior) and Peter Winslow (Exeter senior) will compete. Kwiecien posted a third-place 1:25.29 last year while Winslow followed in 1:25.62, one position behind.
Concord's Tolbert Nemo is the lone returning sprinter from last year's seven-of-eight senior field in the 55 dash. Newcomer Thibeault excels in this race as well.
A half second is the difference between Manchester Central's Christien Johnson, Pinkerton's Zach Cicio and Manchester Memorial's Jared Ombati in the 300 dash, while Pinkerton's Chris Poggi and North's Craig Hammond appear to have the upper hand in the 1000 and 3000.
The 55 hurdles is a toss-up between North's Andrew Dwyer, Pinkerton's Jason Rodgers and Concord's George Feliz. The juniors own D-I championship times of 8.32, 8.60 and 8.62 from last year.
Sophomore Starlin Ortiz of Londonderry and senior Mark Franklin of Pinkerton return with high jump marks of 5-10 from last season.