By Mike Smith
The morning began under overcast skies and cool temperatures, things certainly heated up over the course of the day. Most of the meet was held under conditions perfect for track and field, the sun came out just in time for the 3200, ensuring that the toughest athletes in the sport got exactly what they bargained for. On this 48th edition in the fifty years since the first Wilderness meet, the steamy weather conditions would lead to some strong performances, like a new meet record in the girls 200. Let’s get into the details.
In the first event of the day, the Gilford girls got after it right away, winning this one in 10 minutes, 43 seconds, more than 30 seconds up on Kennett. Commanding performance by the Golden Eagles. The Mascenic boys would win by six seconds in 9:03.
In the next final on the track, Plymouth’s Katherine Leuhrs would destroy the field, winning in 15.83, more than a minute up on Newfound’s Molly Lu McKellar. Leuhrs wasn’t done, she would also win the long jump by over 6 inches, high jump in a tie at 5-7, and finish second in the 200, for what I might call a working person’s good day. Plymouth’s Cole Ahern would also win convincingly in the 110 hurdles, 16.43 to Gilford’s Aiden Malek’s 17.89.
Aida Wheat of Kennett would have a day, winning the girls 100 in 12.81, but also winning the 200 in a meet record of 26.03. Ms. Wheat would play a role in the Kennett ladies second place team finish on the day.
Bishop Brady’s Josh Gentchos would turn the tables on Portsmouth Christian’s Tim Kelm in the 100, running 11.51.
Speaking of Kennett, Amy Burton would use the same tactic in both the 1600 and the 3200 of tracking the leader until the final lap and then unleashing an unrelenting kick to take both those events, in 5:38 and 12:48.
In the boys 1600, as expected, Patrick Gandini would head straight to the front, with Portsmouth Christian’s Jonas Teeter in his slipstream for two plus laps, before powering home in 4:34 to win by six seconds. He employed the same strategy in the 800, leading Kennett’s Kylan Morneau for the entire race winning in 2:03 to Morneau’s 2:05.
In the 4 x 100s, the Kennett girls would best both Newfound and Belmont to win, while in the boys 4 x 100s, Bishop Brady would outpace Plymouth and Laconia.
Kennett’s Piper Lopashanski would take the 400 meters by over a second, while taking second in the long jump as well to help the Eagles cause. Owen Carney of InterLakes would win the boys 400 in 52.26. He would be a double winner by winning the 200 as well in 23.65.
Stacia Paul of Newfound would take the girls 300 hurdles by over a second, winning in 49.55. Gilford’s Aiden Malek would win by over 2 seconds in the boys race to earn what might be the largest margin of victory on the men’s side of the meet. Because the largest margin belongs to Portsmouth Christian’s Brianna Malone in the 800 where she won by more than 16 seconds, running 2:20 and change.
There was a pretty good battle in the boys 3200, the number 1 and 2 seed would finish up in a sprint over the final 100, with Newfound’s Connor Downes edging out Belmont’s Will Riley, both being given 10:42s for their times.
Newfound’s Malaki Ingram would win the high jump by less misses, with Winnisquam’s Aidan Donahue both jumping 5-7.
Newfound ladies would take the top four spots in pole vault, helping the team cause, with Taylor Mooney and Malina Bohlmann both clearing 7-6. A similar situation would happen in boys pole vault with Plymouths Cole Ahearn and Kearsarge’s August Zock clearing 10 foot, but Ahearn winning on less missed attempts.
Plymouth’s Curtis Smoker would win boys long jump with the only mark at 20 feet. His teammate Sydney Valenti would win triple jump, with a jump of 32-8.25. Gilford’s Anthony Horrocks would take boys triple in 40-9.5.
Newfound’s Paulina Huckins would beat out Macoma Valley’s Opal Shinnlinger in shot, tossing the orb 36-5.5. Shinnlinger would turn the tables in disc, winning that one in 121-1 by almost 30 feet. Newfound’s Brady Maclean would win shot by almost two feet with a put of 39-8.5. Hayden Munce of Berlin would take disc by exactly two feet, spinning the disc out to 117-8.
In javelin, Newfound’s Bohlmann would take girls event, outpacing the competition by 28 feet, while Kingswood’s Ethan Arnold would grab the boys title with a huck of 139-5 to win by almost 2 feet.
And in the final event of the day, the Kingswood girls 4 x 400 meter squad would put on a clinic, winning by more than 10 seconds, in 4:15.15. Gilford boys would take the boys race, with Gandini on anchor, and it looked likely he split the fastest leg, winning in 3:41.64.
Gandini’s effort for the day supported his teams chances, with Gilford winning the boys event with 109 points, over Newfound with 73 and Kingswood with 56. Newfound girls would take home the title, scoring a tremendous 129 points to Kennett’s 111 and Plymouth’s 61, much of that on one Ms. Luehrs.
And one final observation, as we awaited the results of the boys long jump, even though we are deep in the heart of athletic competition, I witnessed those teams that knew they were in the hunt for the top spots, chilling together and getting “gritty?” as the heat of the day reached its zenith, as did the essence and spirit of competition reached its peak. It’s a great sport we participate in.