LOOKING AHEAD to Friday’s 4 p.m. Division I meet at Winnacunnet of Hampton, perhaps it’s a good idea to look back to Saturday’s Londonderry Invitational to find out who’s on top of their game.
There’s no question Zakari Jenkins of Nashua North, a two-time winner in the 100 meters (11.19) and 200 meters (22.36) and, teammate Mike Lynch, who conquered the shot put (47-8.5) and discus throw (129-7), are peaking at the right time.
Lynch bested teammate Deric Wagner (47-6.75) in the shot put last Saturday, but Wagner still holds the league’s best mark this season at 49-4.25.
“Nashua North is sitting in a good position,” said Salem head coach Jack Gati. “You look at their team and they’ve got a good balance of sprinters, distance runners and throwers.”
Pinkerton head coach Carol Quarles, who guided the Astros to the state title last year (besting runner-up Nashua North 67-58), agreed North is the favorite.
“We don’t intend on giving away our title easily,” said Quarles. “North is the team to beat, but we believe with the help of some other teams, we can make a run at keeping our title.”
Quarles received some good news on Chris Poggi, the senior from Pinkerton who rolled his ankle recently and had to sit out the Londonderry Invitational.
“Chris will be able to compete Friday and he’s determined to come back stronger,” she said of Poggi, who is tops this season in the 400 (49.70) and 800 meters (1:56.20). Three other Pinkerton tracksters to watch Friday are 400-meter dasher Connor Kwiecien, Isaiah Backels in the long jump and pole vault, and freshman T.J. Urbanik of Pinkerton, who won the javelin throw (144-3) in the Londonderry Invitational. But Urbanik and many others still have a mountain to climb to reach Salem’s Alex Magoon at 168-11.
The Crimson Tide figure to be in the title hunt behind B.J. Smith (9.27.80) in the 3,200 meters and George Feliz in the 100-meter hurdles (14.90) and 300-meter hurdles (40,10). In the boys’ high jump, Starlin Ortiz of Londonderry and Keelan McCoole of Bedford both figure to battle it out for the top spot in Hampton.
In the pole vault, Exeter’s Tim DiBlasi and Josh Teixeiro, both with 13-0 tosses, are the top seeds along with teammate Alex Peck in the long jump (21-2). Memorial’s Shawn Case is the one to beat in the triple jump (42-2) and the same is true for Griffin Gagnon of Bishop Guertin of Nashua in the 1,600 meters (4:25.80),
On the girls’ side, few will argue senior standout Betsy Garnick of Bishop Guertin will be the prohibitive favorite to win the Most Outstanding Athlete award. She enters the meet as the top seed in the 100 meters (12.50), 100-meter hurdles (14.20), 300-meter hurdles (45.90) and long jump (17-11). She posted the second best time (25.80) in the 200 meters this season to Johanna Celli of Bedford (25.50).
Exeter, the defending state champion, will be led by Shannon Murdock, who will be tough to beat in the 1,600 meters (5:01.20) and 3,200 meters (11:05.90).
Souhegan of Amherst is the overwhelming favorite to retain its boys’ crown when the Division II meet commences Saturday at 10 a.m. at Pelham High. Tanner Kent of Souhegan led the division this season in the 400 meters (50.00), 800 meters (1:56.00) and the 1,600 meters (4:26.00).
Teammate Ben DeForest led the pack this season in both the 100-meter hurdles (14.30) and 300-meter hurdles (40.50). ConVal of Peterborough will be a contender behind Tommy Hughes, who is tops in his division in the shot put (52-05) and discus throw (137-07).
Coe-Brown of Northwood has the talent and depth to repeat as the girls’ state champion. The team is led by Hannah Parker in the 400 meters (57.30) and 800 meters (2:10.80) and Jelesa Nelson in the 100 meters (12.10) and long jump (17-2.75).
Elisabeth Danis (11:06.30) is tops in the 3,200 meters, giving the Bears another weapon to record valuable points.
Over the weekend at the Seacoast Championships, Coe-Brown (129.5) toppled Division I Exeter (119) and Winnacunnet (119) for the first place finish.
Merrimack Valley will make a run at Coe-Brown Saturday behind Julianah Adejuyigbe, who leads her division in the shot put (38-11.75) and discus throw (126-0).
In the Division III meet slated for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Inter-Lakes of Meredith, defending girls’ state champion White Mountains of Whitefield will get a stiff challenge from Kennett of Conway. In the Wilderness League Championships in Conway Saturday, White Mountains tipped runner-up Kennett, 135-124.
In that meet, the Spartans were led by Karisa Bergman, a two-time winner in the shot put (33-11.5) and discus (112-0). Teammates Jackie Kleinschrodt (3,200 meters, 12:29.30) and Laura Kopp (pole vault, 8-0) were also winners.
Kennett had a double winner with Georgiana Miller in the 100 (12.80) and 200 meters (27.20) while Gracie Ryan (34-1.5) was victorious in the triple jump for the Eagles.
Winnisquam is a legitimate top-three team behind Jaila Remillard, who won the long jump (16-2), 400 meters (1:00.00) and the 100-meter hurdles (16.70) Saturday. Samantha Hicks of Laconia was a two-time winner in the 800 meters (2:28.30) and 1,600 meters (5:31.40).
The boys’ meet is wide open, but last year’s runner-up, Steven of Claremont, will be led by Akeem Bailey, who won the 100 meters (11.17), 200 meters (22.94) and the 400 meters (53.50) in the Hanover Invitational Saturday.
“Track and Field” appears Tuesdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.