Nashua North's Lynch, eyeing shot put crown, hoping for a shot at college football
Nashua North's Mike Lynch practices for Sunday's Division I shot put championship. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEAER)
The 12-pound ball of steel, which Lynch hurls more than 50 feet, is helping knock down doors to colleges and perhaps giving him an inside track to the University of New Hampshire. Lynch, a 6-foot-1, 235 pounder, on Saturday will make an official visit to UNH, where he has always wanted to play football.
The Wildcats, for now, have offered a spot as a preferred walk-on. He's also being recruited as a partial scholarship athlete for the UNH track and field team. He just might end up playing both sports for the Wildcats - not too shabby for a kid who wasn't on the radar of many college teams entering the fall.
It's been hard not to notice Lynch, named to the New Hampshire Union Leader All-State team in both track and football. In outdoor track and field, he won the Division I state meet and NHIAA Meet of Champions as as junior. Last week, he set a personal-best in shot put with a throw of 52 feet, one-half inch. Lynch was also named to the CHaD East-West All-Star football game.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Lynch can put another feather in his cap at the NHIAA indoor track and field championships at Dartmouth College. The meet begins at 10 a.m. Lynch is favored to win but can't afford to slip up: Bedford High's Joseph Thibeault and Nashua North's Derek Wagner are both capable of unleashing a winning throw of 50-plus feet.
A year ago, Lynch was the No. 1 seed at the indoor championships and watched Brandon Hammerstrom of Manchester Memorial take the title.
"I'm still kind of bitter about that," said Lynch, who also visited Springfield College recently. "It's been driving me. I want this for our team. I'm pretty sure we are expected to come in second (behind Pinkerton of Derry), and I would be letting my team down if I didn't come out and win."
UNH football coach Sean McDonnell and track coach Jim Boulanger are keeping an eye on Lynch. So is Merrimack College football coach John Perry, who played at UNH.
Nashua North coach Jason Robie presented Lynch with the "Titan Award" during a team banquet on Wednesday night. It's not an award for the most talented or most dominant football player. It's much more than that.
"It's for a player that exhibits the highest standard on and off the field and makes the program a better place," Robie said. "It's for someone who lives life the right way and is a role model. That's why I think he is going to be a big part of whatever college football program he chooses. Obviously, he is a very good player and a very strong kid, but he gives you a lot of intangibles that you can't measure with height or weight."
Signs are pointing toward a college career in Durham. Lynch's parents graduated from UNH and have taken Michael to dozens of games through the years. Michael's father, Tom, design editor at the New Hampshire Union Leader, remembers when his middle-school-aged son picked out his favorite UNH player: linebacker Matt Parent.
Lynch, much like his playing days with the Titans, could likely handle multiple positions at the college level.
"I'm a bit undersized for what I played in high school (tackle), but I'm the kind of kid who is going to get there and work hard and earn a spot wherever I can. I know I can make an impact," said Lynch, interested in studying kinesiology and earning a teaching degree. "I could play defensive end and maybe move to linebacker. Then again, I could put on 60 pounds and play nose tackle."
And also throw the shot.