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December 08. 2012 8:47PM

NHIAA Girls' Indoor Track preview: Bishop Guertin favored again

2012-13 NHIAA Girls' Indoor Track Scoop

Teams to watch: In Division I, talented athletes Betsy Garnick, Sarah Burke and Molly McCabe lead Bishop Guertin of Nashua to its 11th consecutive state indoor track and field title. Reigning D-II champion Bedford scores points in its new league. Timberlane of Plaistow controls the distance events. Pinkerton perennially boasts depth. I

Athletes to watch: Bishop Guertin's Betsy Garnick seeks to build on her spring track and field success by garnering the New Hampshire Union Leader Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year award. She has the potential to scored 30 individual points and will also run a relay leg for the Cardinals. Sarah Burke and Molly McCabe of BG, Hannah Kimball and Katherine Estep of Timberlane and Julia Perry of Merrimack are all returning champions. Bedford's Jenny Mara shares the D-II high jump record. In Division II, sprinter Kathareeya Tonyai of Jaffrey's Conant dominates. Cross country stalwarts Sami Hicks of Laconia, Meghan Philpot and Emma Newton of Hollis/Brookline and Courtney Hawkins of Milford renew rivalries. Michaela and Jenna Athanasopoulos of Monadnock duel in the long jump.

Records to watch: Guertin teammates Betsy Garnick and Sarah Burke set D-I records as juniors last season. Garnick challenges her 8.21 mark in the 55-meter hurdles and goes after Shaniece Benson's (Manchester West) 2006, 55-meter dash mark of 7.31. Hillary Holmes' 18-6.25 long jump mark, set by the Exeter athlete last year, is also within reach for Garnick. Burke set the standard in the 600 with a time of 1:35.17. D-II's Kathareeya Tonyai goes after Anna Ciofreddi's (Lebanon) 55 dash record of 7.21.

Defending champions: Bishop Guertin more than doubled the point total of its nearest Division I rival, besting Exeter 107-51. Bedford did the same in Division II, topping Milford 75-39. Timberlane and PInkerton contested with Exeter for the silver in D-I scoring 41 points each. Hanover and Monadnock netted 36 points apiece, challenging Milford for D-II's runner-up spot.

The girls' indoor track and field team from Bishop Guertin has brought the state championship plaque home to Nashua for 10 straight years, and there's little reason to doubt that the 2012-13 title plaque will not grace the school's overstuffed trophy case.

Led by speedster Betsy Garnick who bolted to gold in a pair of events last year, the Cardinals return seeded athletes in five running events and one field event to make them the division's preseason envy.

As a junior last winter, Garnick won the 55-meter dash and the 55-meter hurdles. Her short sprint time of 7.37 was just 0.06 seconds off the 2006 D-I record of 7.31 held by Manchester West's Shaniece Benson.

During the spring season, Garnick shared the New Hampshire Union Leader's Athlete of the Year award as she set the state record in the 100-meter hurdles in three consecutive championship meets, blurring from a New Hampshire best 14.48 to 14.27 to 14.09.

Her indoor 8.21 in the 55-meter hurdles is the state standard, and she is the top-seed in the long jump after finishing second last season.

Complementing Garnick's individual efforts will be returning indoor champions Sarah Burke in the 600-meter run and Molly McCabe in the 1,000. Burke's 1:35.17 makes her the D-I 600 record holder, and McCabe added a bronze medal to BG's swag in the 1,500.

All three athletes are seniors.

Newcomer Bedford, which steps up to D-I this season, will stage the best challenge for gold. Among its athletes are high jumper Jenny Mara who tied the D-II record at 5-feet, 4-inches last winter, and fleet Johanna Celli who raced to podium finishes in both the 55- and 300-meter dashes.

Teammate Anika Hibbard was two inches lower in the high jump than champion Mara in 2011-12, and Brenna Williams' bronze in the long jump was less than two inches shy of gold.

Defending 300-meter dash champion Julia Perry of Merrimack, a sophomore, will be tested by juniors Sydney Peterson of Exeter and Margaret Barrie of Derry's Pinketon. Both joined Perry on the podium last winter.

In the long distance events, a pair of seniors from Plaistow's Timberlane Regional return as defending champions. Hannah Kimball won the 1,500 in 4:53.06, nearly 10 full seconds ahead of her closest rival, while Katherine Estep outkicked Nashua North's Mia Eisenhandler, 10:49.80-10:51.93 in the 3,000.

Sophomore Adaeze Obinelo of Nashua South tops the shot put lineup.

Division II

A number of cross country stalwarts headline the list of athletes gearing to win laurels in the 1,000-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs.

Laconia's Sami Hicks won the Division III cross country meet several weeks ago, and she is the defending D-II indoor champion in the 1,000-meter run. Meghan Philpot and Emma Newton of Hollis/Brookline run the track and the trails equally well and make this a camera finish.

Last winter the trio posted podium times of 3:08.50, 3:08.85 and 3:09.98 respectively.

Courtney Hawkins, a former cross country Meet of Champions winner, brings the best times to the 3,000, where she is the defending champion, and the 1,500, but Newton was less than a second behind in the 1,500 last year.

Sisters Michaela and Jenna Athanasopoulos of Swanzey's Monadnock have a hold on the long jump. Michaela is the top seed, entering with a mark of 16-feet, 3.75 inches, while Jenna is less than two inches back at 16-2.

The 55 hurdles is a rematch of last year's finals, pitting gold medalist Kelly Ludew of Lebanon (8.55), silver medalist Jenna Athanasopoulos (8.61) and bronze medalist Nancy Taban of Penacook's Merrimack Valley (8.86).

Conant of Jaffrey senior Kathareeya Tonyai is the top seed in the 55 and 300 dashes, but Hanover's Melanie Subbiah could upset in the short race (7.51-7.54) and Milford's Jessica Krafft seeks the top step in the long dash (42.13-42.76).

The 600 is a close contest between defending champ Aidan Bardos of Hanover and Cindy Fanny of Merrimack Valley. The two sported times of 1:39.81 and 1:40.24 at this meet last year.

Merrimack Valley's Julianah Adejuyigbe is headed to her first division crown in the shot put, and Brooke Simmons of Goffstown brings a 5-2 high jump into the season.

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