Sports: ConVal teams ready for winter; updates on Conant, WLC and Mascenic hoops

  • ConVal’s wrestling program is still in a bit of limbo with no in-person practices, but they are scheduled to start the regular season on Jan. 29. Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/18/2021 5:00:56 PM

The ConVal School Board approved the Cougars’ return to NHIAA athletics last week, and most of ConVal’s winter sports teams are back on track to launch their interscholastic competitions in the coming week or at least begin practicing in earnest.

Ice hockey

Several changes are coming for the ConVal-Conant ice hockey teams this winter; most impactful, the boys’ team is unable to field a full roster and will not be participating in NHIAA competition this season. The girls pulled together enough players to get on the ice, and they’ll have a new home this season, as Massachusetts’ ban on interstate hockey means the Griffins can’t play at their usual arena at the Winchendon School.

Instead, the girls are settling in at Keene Ice as they begin practice.

“Beth and Bobby at Keene Ice have been amazing,” said girls’ coach Chris Spingola. “They are doing everything they can to keep as many teams on the ice [as possible].”

The Griffins’ schedule is not yet set, as the other New Hampshire schools they intend to play against work to finalize their own winter athletics plans, but they were expected to practice in Keene starting Monday afternoon.

“I’m excited to get started!” Spingola said.

Wrestling

Coach Abe Ewing’s team carried the highest risk classification going into the winter season, but was eventually approved for interscholastic competition. The NHIAA called off all tournaments this winter, which means schools will only compete against one other school at a time for dual meets rather than packing the gym and wrestling against several schools in one meet, which is expected to reduce possible COVID-19 transmission significantly. Without the benefit of in-person practices, Ewing said his team has been meeting virtually since Dec. 10. Student-athletes are learning about the history of wrestling, had a Zoom call with Nebraska All-American wrestler Collin Purinton, and are training remotely by going on simultaneous team runs individually and lifting bags of flour or loaded bookbags in lieu of the school’s weight room.

ConVal is expected to wrestle a dual meet against Pelham on Jan. 29, though Ewing said his team will need to get some in-person practices in before then in order to compete safely.

Basketball

The Cougar boys’ and girls’ hoops teams had already begun practice before the board put a pause on athletics, and they were right back in the gym following the return-to-sports announcement. Both teams likely would have started their regular seasons by now without the interruption; as of press time, coach Leo Gershgorin said he was still unsure when his defending Division II co-champion boys would tip off, and girls’ coach Kevin Proctor said his team expects to start with a home game against Souhegan on Feb. 5. As of this time, the district is not allowing fans at ConVal’s home games.

Skiing

ConVal’s alpine and Nordic ski teams are right back in the thick of things this week, with a pair of competitions scheduled despite minimal advance practice time.

Alpine coach Hollis Wilson said her team will train for the first time on Tuesday and hit the slopes for a GS race at Crotched Mountain on Thursday – after just two training sessions.

“It is hard to say the depth of talent at this point as I have yet to ski with these kids,” Wilson said. “But I am confident we will make a strong showing with some solid race results!” Wilson said her squad is comprised of 10 boys and nine girls, the best turnout on the girls’ side in recent memory.

Nordic coach Scott McGovern said that the district’s policy requiring both student-athletes and their siblings to stay fully remote for the duration of the season has “taken a heavy toll” on his team; he’s down to just eight of an expected 17 skiers. The remaining Cougars are training at the Dublin Nordic Center and have their first race Wednesday, though McGovern said many of his skiers are likely to sit out that race since they haven’t been able to do much on-snow conditioning.

BOYS’ BASKETBALL

Conant 64,
Wilton-Lyndeborough 17

An 18-point night from big man Jacson Cross led Conant to their second blowout victory of the week over shorthanded WLC Friday night. Colson Seppala and Garrett Somero added 12 apiece as the Orioles improved to 2-0.

Conant will host another Division IV team, Hinsdale, on Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. Meanwhile, both WLC and Mascenic had their schedules for the week turned upside down, as their planned opponents Monadnock and Keene both went to full remote learning and suspended athletic activities for the immediate future. Luckily, WLC athletic director Brice Miller and Mascenic AD Bradley Miller put their heads together and scheduled a pair of games, one at WLC Tuesday and another at Mascenic Friday, to keep the season moving along.

The Mascenic girls will have to wait for their varsity opener after the Monadnock cancelation, since WLC is only fielding a JV team on the girls’ side this season.

The Conant girls open their varsity season at Division IV Hinsdale Tuesday and host the Pacers Thursday. 




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