NHIAA Boys' Track Preview: Jenkins paces defending champ North
The scoopReturning champs: Nashua North (Division I), Souhegan of Amherst (Division II) and Kearsarge of North Sutton (Division III). Souhegan has won the state title the last two seasons.
Sprinting to the finish: Zakari Jenkins (junior, Nashua North, 100, 200 meters); Trevor Knight (senior, Nashua South, 100); Walters Ndi (senior, Concord, 100); Zach Cicio (senior, Pinkerton, 200); Starlin Ortiz (junior, Londonderry, 200); Connor Kwiecien (senior, Pinkerton, 400); Tommy Harter (senior, Winnacunnet, 400); Rob Flynn (senior, Bedford, 400).
Going the distance: Sean Munnelly (junior, Campbell, 800 meters); Ethan Call (senior, White Mountains, 800); Benjamin Chaimberg (junior, Hanover, 800); Jeremy Brassard (senior, Coe-Brown, 1,600); Ben Finnigan (junior, St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover, 1,600); Tim Fafard (junior, Mascenic, 3,200); Josh Fontaine (junior, Lebanon, 3,200); Eli Moskowitz (junior, Souhegan, 3,200).
Up and over: Ben DeForest (senior, Souhegan, 110-meter hurdles); George Feliz (senior, Concord, 110-, 300-meter hurdles); Craig Telfer (senior, Lebanon, 110-meter hurdles); Nate Jaeger (senior, Bedford, 300-meter hurdles).
Leaps and bounds: Ben DeForest (senior, Souhegan, high jump); John Cioffredi (senior, Lebanon, high jump); Starlin Ortiz (junior, Londonderry, high jump); Tommy Gallagher (junior, Berlin, long jump); Quentin Bazarnicki (senior, Monadnock of Swanzey, triple jump); Shawn Case (senior, Manchester Memorial, triple jump).
Well-armed: Alex Tamulonis (senior, Milford, pole vault); Isaiah Backels (junior, Pinkerton, pole vault); Coty Cadorett (senior Con-Val, shot put); Brendon Keach (senior, Exeter, discus); Shaun Howard (senior, Sanborn, javelin).
As a junior last spring, the North sprinter won the 200 meters at the New England Interscholastic Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
"He's capable of reaching another gear, another level, and with him returning, we have a pretty decent chance of winning the Division I title again," Burns said.
Burns cited Pinkerton Academy of Derry, Bedford and Merrimack as North's top challengers for the division title, "but, with a little luck and by staying healthy," he said, "we'll have a shot."
Based on last year's results in the state meet, Nashua South football standout Trevor Knight will be Jenkins' top threat in the 100 meters, while Pinkerton senior Zach Cicio will be Jenkins' top challenger in the 200 meters.
"Cicio and Zakari are two of my top picks for (division) MVP this season," said Burns. "They'll be pushing each other all season."
Seniors Connor Kwiecien of Pinkerton, Tommy Harter of Hampton's Winnacunnet High and Rob Flynn of Bedford are the top competitors in the 400-meter dash.
Sean Munnelly of Litchfield's Campbell High and Ethan Call of Whitefield's White Mountains Regional are pre-season favorites to collide in the Meet of Champions for the 800-meter run title.
Burns labeled Jeremy Brassard of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, the regional champion in the 1,600 meters a "fantastic distance runner who works extremely hard.
"There's a reason he's a New England champ," Burns said, "and he'll be even better this season."
Juniors Tim Fafard of New Ipswich's Mascenic Regional, Josh Fontaine of Lebanon and Eli Moskowitz of Amherst's Souhegan High, all of whom were in the top six in last year's Meet of Champions, will compete for top 3,200-meter honors.
In the 110-meter hurdles, seniors Ben DeForest of Souhegan, George Feliz of Concord and Craig Telfer of Lebanon are the top three contenders.
Feliz also specializes in the 300 meters and gets the nod nod as preseason favorite along with junior Nate Jaeger of Bedford.
For the second straight season, there will be a close battle waged in the high jump between Ben DeForest of Souhegan and senior John Cioffredi of Lebanon.
The athlete to beat in the pole vault is senior Alex Tamulonis of Milford, who was runner-up in the Meet of Champions last season.
Junior Tommy Gallagher of Berlin (long jump) and senior Quentin Bazarnicki of Monadnock of Swanzey (triple jump) are favored in their fields based on last year's Meet of Champions tournament.
Same is true for senior Coty Cadorett of ConVal of Peterborough in the shot put, senior Brendon Keach of Exeter in the discus and senior Shaun Howard of Sanborn of Kingston in the javelin throw.