Just like everything else this season, after the NHIAA Meet of Champions returns for the first time in 2 years. Unlike previous editions, there is not a New Englands to qualify (or rest) for. If Cross Country was any indication, expect athletes to spend everything! Additionally, since most competition has taken place on a regional basis, last weekend’s Division Championships was the first time kids competed against each other from across the state. Now we add across divisions, which makes this a true “Showdown Saturday” as most athletes will be competing against others they have not seen all season, maybe 2 years. And, the meet will be a traditional one in that girls and boys will be competing during the same time frame. Yes, fields are still limited to 12 per event and spectators to 4 per athlete, but at least we will all be together in the closest thing to normal we have experienced this spring season. What a finale!
And of course we will be there to livestream, snap pics, interview, and insta everything! Check out the MOC Meet Hub to get ready!
Obviously, special thanks to Sanborn High School and their community as they have stepped up to host the 2021 Meet of Champions. Preview below!
Sprints & Hurdles
Beginning with the High Hurdles, we see Emily Plante of Salem and April Weeks of Portsmouth both from D1 as the only entries under 16 seconds at 15.44 and 15.50 respectively. Look for D3 Champ, Eliza Bates of Newport to also stick her nose into it. Junior Taryn Naftali of Bedford will again try to hold off freshman phenom Soraya Ross of South in the 100. These 2 were separated by only 1/100th of a second at D1s. Look for Ross’s teammate, Madeline Stevens to also be in contention along with Merrimack’s Alexis Best. Don’t sleep on the D2 sprinters their meet was 42 degrees and raining, so in the 100m look for D2 Champ Hanover’s Ella Maclean.
Ross and Stevens return in the 200 as the top 2 seeds and the only competitors to dip in the 25s last week. Watch for a couple of freshmen with Central’s Harriet Barber and D2 Champ Aida Wheat as they are both in the fast section. The 300 Hurdles should be a repeat of the race of the day from D1s with Exeter’s Sydney Lavelle, North’s Olivia Mazerolle, and Portsmouth’s Weeks all in the 46’s. Again, don’t be surprised if D3 Champ Bates makes her presence felt.
Middle Distance & Distance
The 400 should be a showdown between D1 Champ Kylee Quinlan of Winnacunnet and D3 Champ Brianna Malone of Portsmouth Christian. Malone’s teammate Liza Corso will be doubling back from the 800, but she ran 2:18.25 off that same double last week. The D3 Champ will look to take on the D2 Champ in Windham’s Abby Hughes. Hughes looked simply strong in that distance last week rolling to the title in 2:18.24. Both will have to watch out for BG’s Fiona Doherty however as she is seeded 2:20.96
The 1600 sees D1 Champ BG’s Mary-Kate Finn at the top of the rankings with a 5:11.07. Expect her largest challenge to come from Concord’s Molly Nyhan or perhaps D3 Champ Corso as she was not pushed in her win in 5:18 last week. Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox is only entered in the 3200 meter run after running all three distance events at the D2 championships last week. She is the most polished distance girl the state has seen in quite some time. While Jacqueline Gaughan’s state record might be a little out of reach at 10:05.71, it should be fun to see how low into the 10’s Addison will go.
Mazzerolle might have the only shot at a state record as she has cleared 5’8” in the high jump earlier in the season and the state record stands at 5’10”. The pole vault is wide open as athletes continue to improve every week, but look to Londonderry’s Sophie Hagymas and Winnacunnet’s Christine Ghirardi as the top 2 seeds at 9’6″.
D2’s Samantha Sawyer and Renee Wilson of Milford are the top two seeds in the long jump. The Triple Jump sees Ayva Mullen of Concord looking to become an all state champ as a 9th grader, but she’s coming off a slim .25” victory last week over senior Autumn Agri of Exeter.
The Nashua North girls, Victoria Conrad, Natalie Burgess, and Madelyn Novak dominated the shot put at the D1 championships, but this week they will have competition from D3 girls Opal Shinnlinger of Mascoma Valley and Paulina Huckins of Newfound. Conrad is still the overwhelming favorite and returning champ. Briana Danis of Pinkerton enters the Discus as a 16 foot favorite. The sophomore looks for her first all state crown in her first high school season. Novak returns in the Javelin as a 9 foot favorite over Plymouth’s Samantha Meier and North’s Aliana Mercado. Watch for the D2 throwers by the way. By far, with rain and temps in the 40s, they had the toughest conditions of the Division Championships.
The collision of D1-D2-D3 will take place at Sanborn Regional High School on Saturday. Most of the competitors have not seen each other all season long since the state was not holding invitationals.
Sprints & Hurdles
Seth Baylus of Merrimack Valley will look to defend his D2 crowns in the 100 and 200 against the best D1 has to offer. He has a comfortable lead on the field in the 100, but I’m personally looking forward to seeing how fast he and Connor Dunning of Nashua North can go if they push one another in the 200. Winnacunnet’s Zachary Valhouli is top seed in the 400m at 50.52.
5 boys are separated by less than half a second in the 110 high hurdles led by top seed Patrick Macdonald of Bedford. His main competition, Jackson Bomba of Windham and Michael Poulin of Exeter will challenge the 110 top seed and then battle in a D1-D2 battle in the 300 hurdles, an event where both are undefeated on the season.
Let’s get started with what should be the race of the day. The boys 3200 meter will be the collision of D1 champ Eben Bragg of Concord and Aidan Cox of Coe brown. They have raced numerous times this season in the MiniElite Series, but this time around is for the all state crown. If they both work together for the first part of the race, the 9 minute barrier is in play.
The deepest event of the day will be the boys 800m. 8 boys are seeded under 2 minutes with the potential for the whole field of 12 to break 2 minutes. Matthew Griffin of Londonderry is the top seed as he looks to cap off an excellent high school career with an all state crown.
The 1600 meter is a rematch of the D2 championships between Rohan Rai of Windham and Luke Tkaczyk of Coe-Brown. Stephen Connolly of Pinkerton and Torin Kindopp of Keene will also be in the mix.
Shane Wang of Concord Christian (D3 Champ) and Michael Dettore of Exeter (D1 Champ) will battle in the two horizontal jumps. Wang is the overwhelming favorite in the triple, but the Long jump should be up for grabs and both have the ability to go over 22 feet.
Max Lussier of Sanborn will have his last track meet on his home turf. Arguably the best athlete in the state, he is the 1 seed in the pole vault and the high jump.
Jason Compoh of Nashua South and James Dupuis of Pembroke are the top seeds in the Shot. Compoh has had little challenge this year, but should see plenty at the all state meet. Milford’s Caden Zalenski is the top seed in the Discus while North’s Lucas Cunningham is top seed in the Javelin. Look for Division 3 to make their presence felt here however as Laconia’s Dylan Dickey, Newport’s Marius Edwards, White Mountains Forest Pribbernow, and Somersworth’s Trent Evans occupy the next 4 seeds and are all over 150′.
–Nate Leveille & Tim Cox