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Race of a lifetime

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • WIlton-Lyndeborough’s Sam Bailey makes a throw in the shot put finals. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant, Mascenic and WIlton-Lyndeborough competed at the Division III track and field championships on Saturday at Winnisquam High School. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jake Movsessian had one thing and one thing only on his mind.

The Mascenic senior sat under a shade tent amidst his fellow Vikings, the signature white-and-black flag rippling above in the growing heat. Headphones in, he ignored his teammates, for the most part, as they cracked jokes and readied for their various events. 

“Tension gets pretty high at states,” Movsessian said, “especially when you're a senior and hope to win, so ...”

Many of the athletes at Saturday’s Division III track and field championships were competing in multiple events, but Movsessian was singularly focused on his specialty – the 3200M. He’d set a personal best in the event as a sophomore, when he disrupted the top of the pack by passing then-junior teammate Avery Traffie and rising Monadnock sophomore James Elmour at the DIII championships, taking third in 9:57.38. But he hadn’t cracked the 10-minute mark since. His  qualifying time was a 10:00.68, which seeded him fourth; with the top three finishers heading to the Meet of Champions, Movsessian needed to outperform his seed or face the end of his high school career.

“I was hoping to just go out with the pack and then try and make my move halfway,” said Movsessian of his pre-race strategy. But not even 200 meters in, he saw that it was time to rethink that plan.

“It was going out so slow, I think because everyone else was doing other events, that I had to just open up a gap as wide as I could and just keep it,” he said. 

Top competitors Jeff Allen of Campbell and Tyler McLaughlin of Moultonborough had run the 1600M, and Dawson Adams of Monadnock had run a leg of the 4x800M relay, sweating under the sun while Movsessian bided his time.

“I think it definitely helped,” Movsessian said. “It gave me more of an advantage than I was thinking. It was pretty quick into the race and I just knew I had to do what had to be done.”

Opponent fatigue notwithstanding, it was a career race for Movsessian. He put 400-plus meters between himself and the pack, Allen and Adams leading the runners-up. Movsessian crossed the finish line in 9:43 flat, a lifetime best.

“I’m not sure if that’s the exact race we’ve been planning on, but it turned out the way we wanted it to,” he said. “It was a huge PR.”

Movsessian gave thanks to coach Mike Smith for helping him get to this pinnacle.

“I mean, a lot of it comes from Smith and his huge amount of experience, his kindness and compassion as a coach. He gives up so much to do this for us, so it’s good to thank him.”

Movsessian’s time would have won him Division II, where the top finisher was Pelham’s Cameron Starr in 9:49.26. The field will be bigger at next Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Merrimack with Division I’s offerings of David Vorbach (Nashua North, 9:34.79), Mackenzie Forest (Concord, 9:38.63) and Andrew Derry (Keene, 9:42.31).

Banish cleans up

Conant’s Taylor Banish was a state champion, briefly, as a controversy in the pole vault resulted in a shuffle between the first- and second-place spots.

Banish cleared her top height, 8’6”, which put her in second behind Fall Mountain’s Ava Mitchell, who went up and over 9’. However, Mitchell did so while wearing shorts and a gray t-shirt, and after the finals, NHIAA and school officials convened, initially ruling that Mitchell was disqualified for not wearing a matching uniform and Banish was No. 1. The discussion continued, however, and eventually, the decision was reversed, leaving Mitchell in first and Banish second.

“I was fine with second,” Banish said.

Banish would add a second-place mark in the javelin as well, where she threw two PRs and maxed out at 97’3”, behind Gilford’s Marina Baer, who heaved hers an eye-popping 121’.0”. Banish said a more mental approach led to her new personal best throws.

“In javelin, I can’t really focus on throwing hard, I have to focus on all the little things,” the elfin junior said. “I can’t get too aggressive or I do bad.”

Throwing the trifecta

Wilton-Lyndeborough junior Sam Bailey made his presence felt in all three throwing events, but some monster tosses by the competition kept him out of the top spots.

Bailey took ninth in the discus, throwing 112’11”, above his average but below his season-best of 121’2”, which he threw at Conant last week. Seniors Leo Ntourntourekas of Newfound and Sean Sullivan of Bishop Brady each threw a 131’10” with Ntourntourekas getting the slight edge.

In javelin, Bailey heaved a fifth-place throw of 139’8”, but he joined the rest of the crowd in awe of Berlin’s Joey Fodor and his toss of 166’2”.

“He’s just a freak,” Bailey said.

Bailey made the finals of the shot put, where he threw a 42’8”, putting him in the conversation. But Ntourntourekas came up for his final throw and launched the sphere 47’3”, drawing a roar from the spectators as he took the win, and knocked Bailey into fourth place.

“That was ridiculous,” Bailey said of Ntourntoureka’s mega throw.

Bailey said the higher level of competition one gets at the state meet pushed him further than a regular-season contest might have.

“I think seeing people throwing further helps,” he said, “just because you have the competition there.”

Roundup

Several other locals put on a good display at Winnisquam and a few will head to the Meet of Champions with their top-three finishes.

Abby and Haylie Drew of Conant were two of the top seeds in the long jump, but Bow’s Dominique Biron took the day with her first jump, a division-record 17’10” — a PR by nearly a foot.

“I could just see how far she went and I was like ‘I can’t beat that,” said Abby, who had the unenviable task of jumping directly after Biron. “She was really good — we’ll beat her at [Meet of Champions].”

Abby landed a 15’11”, a bit below her PR but good enough for second, qualifying her for next week’s MOC’s. Haylie jumped a 15’2.75”, finishing fifth.

Abby was fifth in the 100M dash; Hayley was third in the 200M and earned a trip to Merrimack herself.

Conant’s Isabella Mormando took second in the 800M, finishing in 2:26.04; the quick turnaround to the 3200M all but knocked her out and she did not finish the event.

WLC’s Mackenzie Hayden was ninth in the 3200M and 11th in the 1600M. Teammate Valari Vander-Heyden was 10th in the 800M; Katie Hanisch was 10th in the 400M.

Conant’s Jordan Banish was 8th in the 100M hurdles and 12th in shotput, where Mascenic’s Meagan Brand was 10th.

Mascenic’s Bryce Vaillancourt was ninth in javelin.

Fellow Vikings DJ Turner and Michael Fappiano-Putre were sixth and eighth in the 3200M; Turner was fourth in the 1600M with teammate Logan Thibault fifth, Dakota Somero ninth and Conant’s Caleb Olson in 14th.

Conant’s Tyler Bennett was fifth in pole vault.