If things play out according to the entries, this is Portsmouth’s meet to lose. That said sometimes things don’t go according to plan! Oyster River will be looking to spoil the Clippers party with Milford aiming for the podium as well. One should not count out St. Thomas, Hanover, or Sanborn as any of these teams could sneak in if things go their way!
Here is a look at how things are shaping up…
SPRINTS & HURDLES
The sprints and hurdles should be exciting this year with some tight races and incredible match-ups. In the 100, the top three seeds, Devan McClain (Oyster River, 2018 runner-up), Eli Omahen (Portsmouth), and Claudia Simione (Lebanon) are separated by two-hundredths (yes, 0.02) of a second! Add in fourth seed, and 2018 champion, Ella Maclean (Hanover) and this could be one for the finish line cameras to sort out. The 200 features a veteran lineup, with the fast heat fully comprised of athletes that competed in the 200 at the 2018 DII Championship meet. Again, a close race up front with the top seeds Gwenyth Dahlinger (Pelham) and McClain (Oyster River) separated by 0.01! Dahlinger was 3rd in 2018 and is the top returner in this event. The 400 is the only sprint with a clear favorite as the top seed Maggie Marsh (St. Thomas Aquinas, 3rd in 2018) is nearly 2 seconds ahead of the field. The real race might be for second as seeds 2-4 are separated by less than two-tenths! Occupying those spots are Kristina Pizzi (Bow, 3rd in DIII 2018), Lily Doody (Oyster River), and Grace Ripperger (Portsmouth).
In the shorter of the hurdling events, the 2018 runner up, Adrienne Bevins of St. Thomas Aquinas, enters as the top seed. Countering Bevins’ experience is the second seed, freshman Charlotte Cousins (Oyster River), and 3rd seed Kaylen LaChapelle (Sanborn) both of whom will be running this event at the DII Championship for the first time. The 300 Hurdles (or should we call it the Portsmouth show?) features teammates Sarah Morin, Angela Hagstrom, and April Weeksas the top three seeds! Sarah enjoys just over a second and a half buffer on her fellow Clippers, but the pack behind her will be close, as seeds 3-6 are separated by just 1 second.
The field in the 800 is led by 2018 Champion Corinne Robitaille (Manchester West), who won last year off an impressive (and notoriously difficult) 400/800 double,and it appears she will be fresh this year making her the favorite for the win. Nipping at her heels is Christine Aman (Hanover) and Georgia Jones (Souhegan) both of whom have broken 2:20 this year and have been improving throughout the season. The 1600 features a close pack up front with the top four entrants within 2 seconds of each other. Sophia Reynolds (Merrimack Valley) has the top spot with 2018 runner up Lauren Robinson (Milford), Clare Veverka (Con-Val), and Aman (Hanover) just behind. As has become DII tradition in recent years, the 3200 is stacked. Reynolds (Merrimack Valley) leads this one as well but the next seeds-Chloe Trudel (Souhegan) and Lauren Robinson (Milford)-are within striking distance and with familiar names like Rachel Hurley (Con-Val), Addison Cox (Coe-Brown), Arielle Zlotnick (Souhegan), and Julia Robitaille (Manchester West) in the mix, expect a big pack up front and a great race!
The relays are the wildcard of the meet and perhaps the most exciting! With teams entering based on a their season’s best time but able to run any athletes, there is a lot of unpredictability. That said, the seeds still give us some insight. The 4×800 has Souhegan (2018, 2017, & 2016 Champions!) 13 seconds ahead of the competition, and with the depth of Souhegan’s middle distance squad they likely have some flexibility here to put together an impressive team without impacting individual races. Similar statements can be made about Portsmouth and Coe-Brown who occupy the 2nd and 3rd seeds and will likely be trying to pick up some points here. The 4×100 should be a battle between sprint powerhouses as Portsmouth and Oyster River as they enter seeded just 0.02 apart! The 4×400 is often the most unpredictable of the relays and almost always the most exciting. As the final event on the track where many athletes will be doubling, tripling, or quadrupling back there is always excitement here even if the seeds tell a different story. Again the top two spots are Portsmouth and Oyster River with the Clippers 8 seconds ahead of the Bobcats who are up 8 seconds on the rest of the field.
In the Shot Put Mady Buchalski of St. Thomas Aquinas (4th in 2018) is a clear favorite with a 4’7” cushion on the second seed Abbe Laurence of Portsmouth. Robyn Krafft (Milford) and Becca Olsen (Sanborn) are just behind which should make it a battle for spots 2-4. The Discus could be a little closer with the top two returners from 2018 , Krafft (Milford) and Lily Jackson (Hollis-Brookline) occupying the top spots with a 20+ foot cushion on 3rd seed Buchalski of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Javelin looks to be a tight competition as the top four seeds are within six feet of one another. The top entrant is Corinne Quaglieri (Oyster River) with triple threat Buchalski (St. Thomas Aquinas), Kassidy Larson (Pembroke), and Samantha Meier (Plymouth, 3rd 2018) rounding out the top 4 spots.
The Long Jump looks to be a great battle with the top seeds within a few inches of each other. Eli Omahen (Portsmouth) leads the charge at 16’8.25” with Renee Wilson (Milford), Kaylen LaChapelle (Sanborn, top returner 4th 2018), and Caitlin Carpenter (Kingswood) all over 16’. The triple jump is led by 2018 champion LaChapelle (Sanborn) with Carpenter (Kingswood, 6th 2018), and Livia Kozick (Portsmouth, 3rd 2018) right behind. High Jump could be interesting as the top seven seeds are spread by only 2 inches and spots 2-7 are all entered with 5’0”! Enjoying the 2” cushion is Leslie MacGrath of Milford, but this could come down to which athletes do well coming in at a higher height than they might be accustomed to and who avoids missed heights along the way. The Pole Vault has a clear frontrunner (frontvaulter?) in Sarah Morin of Portsmouth whose 10’1” puts her a foot above her closest competitor Anna Stafford of Hanover. Sarah and Anna were champion and runner up last year, and history looks like it could repeat itself.
After a wet and cold Spring season, the D2 Championships have crashed upon our shores. We’ll talk about the events and individuals first then get into the overall team picture.
Many of the same names we saw in the Indoor season make an appearance here, but a lot of fresh faces are added to the mix and will make for a fun showdown. Windham seems to always have sprinters at the top and with Quinn Cerami and Matthew Garafano both seeded in the top six in the 100 and 200, this season is no exception. Remy Beaujouan from Plymouth and Isaiah Velez from Hollis/Brookline are also top threats in the 100. In the 200 we also see familiar faces and talented sprinters in Hanover’s Kyle Doucette, Kennett’s Chris Caputo, Del Bonsu-Anane from Con-Val, and Beaujouan again.
Before starting their 200s, Bonsu-Anane, Doucette, and Beaujouan (again!) will all be running the 400. Add in top seed Sean Leahy of Goffstown and Merrimack Valley’s Christian Oglesby and we are looking at a very competitive and very hard to predict race.
On paper it looks like a two man race in the 800 with only Colm Seigne of Hanover and Coe-Brown’s Porter Heigis seeded under 2:00. Both are exceptionally talented and have tangled with each other at a championship recently; only separated by mere tenths in the 600 Indoor Championship. Watch out for the lower seeded runners however, there are plenty of talented athletes waiting to pop at the right time.
Merrimack Valley’s David Reynolds has had a tremendous senior season and there is zero reason to think this season will be any different. David is the top seed in both the 1600 and the 3200, and very conceivably could win both. The Coe-Brown contingent of Dawson Dubois, Wyatt Mackey and Luke Tkaczyk will all be racing that same double and will make Reynolds work for sure. Add in Carter Sylvester in the 3200 and Coe-Brown looks to be playing to their strength as a top echelon distance program. A new face to D2 but no stranger to distance success is Demian Kirpal from Bow who is definitely in the 1600 mix. Don’t count out Andy O’Brien from Oyster River; he was last year’s 4th place finisher in the 3200 as a freshman.
Pelham’s John Elie has firmly established himself as the prohibitive favorite in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. Challenging him in the 110s will be the Portsmouth tandem of Andrew Kelly and Chris Mood, as well as Chase Adams of Hollis/Brookline. Windham has two very talented hurdlers as well with Jackson Bomba and Alesandro Jacobellis that could shake up the pecking order.
The 300s look very open after Elie’s seeding; the next three seeds are separated by just over one second. Merrimack Valley’s Dylan Lessard, Portsmouth’s Kelly and Hollis/Brookline’s Adams are all capable of big races. And watch out for any one of several Portsmouth hurdlers poised to strike with the Clippers taking up 6 of the top 10 seeds in this race and entering fully half the field of 16 athletes.
As we mentioned earlier, this season’s weather has been less than perfect and it has always seemed to know exactly when meet days are. With this Saturday looking as good as we could hope for, watch for sprint times and jumps to really explode. The 4×100 falls into that category, and to no one’s surprise the top seeds are Hanover and Windham and are separated on paper by merely 2 hundredths of a second. Both teams could take the win and will have to hope for quality handoffs. One notch down are Manchester West and Portsmouth, both also very closely matched. With better weather on tap, watch for several teams to jump up several spots from their seeding to potentially score.
The 4×400 looks like the rest of the field might be chasing Merrimack Valley as the Pride have a commanding 5 second lead in the seedings over the next best team Hanover. Right with the Marauders are Hollis/Brookline and John Stark. As teams in the title hunt get desperate for points late in the meet you also might see some seasonal bests from teams lower in the rankings.
The 4×800 looks to be owned by Coe-Brown at this point with a whopping 12 seconds on the next best team (and no slouch) Windham, Souhegan, Hollis/Brookline and Bow seem to be the next tier down. Don’t count out another high level distance program in Oyster River to make some noise and challenge the status quo.
High Jump can be a fluky event but with the top four seeds having fairly consistent seasons it will get very interesting as the bar reaches 6 feet and beyond. Oyster River’s Sidonio LaBelle-Brown looks to be the man to beat with an impressive 6’5” seed. Returning to competition in force is Lebanon’s Ryan Sullivan; a supremely talented athlete with a lot of upside. Portsmouth’s Kelly and Joseph Wegman of John Stark are also very dangerous, so any one of these four could take the HJ title.
The pole vault looks to be a one man show at the top as Portsmouth’s Mood is seeded over a foot higher than the next best vaulter, Bow’s Tyler Bennett, Sanborn’s Max Lussier and Sam Patteson of Coe-Brown are tied for 3rd seed. The most interesting aspect of this event for spectators might be the team title implications, something we’ll get into soon.
The long jump has 7 athletes seeded over 20 feet, and all seven are within ten inches of one another. This could go any which way! Kennett’s Caputo is the top seed but Victor Garcia of Milford, Portsmouth’s Kelly, and Windham’s Curtis Shattuck are all ranked very close behind. You cannot count out Sullivan from Lebanon or LaBelle-Brown of Oyster River, and Hollis/Brookline’s Joey Diaz showed everyone Indoors that he was capable of big things at big meets.
Oyster River’s LaBelle-Brown continues his bouncy trend as the top seed in the triple jump by over a foot. Also very much in the mix is Jaymeson Maheux from Manchester West. One notch down in the seedings gets very tight as Harry Army from Pembroke, Milford’s Garcia, and Sanborn’s Todd Dabrieo are all bunched together.
In the shot, top seed Jonathan Thorn of Coe-Brown has been throwing very well all season and could absolutely uncork a big throw for the win. Also throwing well and vastly improved from last year is Sanborn’s Owen Snively and Milford duo Emmanuel Ughu and Colton Burrows.
The discus will be a very intense matchup with Milford’s Ughu as the top seed and Coe-Brown’s Thorn not far behind. Goffstown’s Peyton Strickland could be one to watch as well.
The javelin will be a wild event as well with almost any of the top ten seeds capable of bombing out a long toss. Top seed Cale Swanson from Plymouth is followed closely by Portsmouth’s Kevin Gum. Right on their heels are Austin Kalinowski from Sanborn and Evan LaRoche of Portsmouth.
With big points in the throws and distance events, coupled with sneaky pole vault and relay points, it looks like the Bears of Coe-Brown are in the driver’s seat and have a points ceiling that few if any teams can match. Looks for points in big chunks at a time from this team; Thorn has been big for them all year in the disc and shot while the 3200 could be a deciding factor late in the meet with Coe-Brown owning 3 of the top 4 seeds in that event. The Bears are hungry for their first boy’s team title and it looks like they have what it takes to bring home a big plaque.
The only team that might be a match in terms of event coverage and potential upside is Portsmouth. The Clippers look to score big in both hurdles and jumps, and will try to sprinkle in supporting points from all events they are entered in. Portsmouth has at least one entry in 14 out of 18 total events and will need surprises from all directions to challenge Coe-Brown’s ability to score big points in multiple events.
Still dangerous are Hanover, Merrimack Valley and Windham; all with great athletes capable of big days. Below are the projected points based solely off of the seedings; but we all know that we don’t know how any of this is going to turn out. That’s the fun, the agony, the ecstasy.
Good luck and good health to all teams and athletes!
Rank Team Projected Points
1 Coe-Brown 72
2 Portsmouth 59
3 Hanover 44
3 Merrimack Valley 44
3 Windham 44
6 Milford 36
7 Oyster River 27
8 Hollis/Brookline 26
8 Sanborn Regional 26
10 Kennett 25