Who to watch at the divisional track and field meets on Saturday

  • Conant hosted the Monadnock Invitational track and field meet on Saturday.

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Conant’s Isabella Mormando, left, and ConVal’s Lucy Freeman, Rachel Hurley and Hailey Doherty will all run the 800M at their respective divisional meets on Saturday. Staff photoS by Ben ConanT

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, May 25, 2017 7:24AM

Rhiannon Bell and Ryan Murray stayed late after track and field practice on Tuesday. The rest of the ConVal squad — runners, mostly — were on their way home, but Bell and Murray were still hard at work with throwing coach Jim Aborn.

“I’m putting in a lot of work this week,” Murray said; after all, the divisional championships are Saturday, and there’s not a moment to lose.

Murray was working on his throwing form, smoothing out his spin. Most discus tossers use a pre-throw twirl to gain momentum, but it’s becoming less common in shot put.

“I’m one of the few in the state right now that’s spinning on shot put,” Murray said. “For me, I’m a little bit shorter and I have a little bit of a stocky build, so it gets me a little more power through it, lets me get my bottom end with my hips into it.”

Bell’s focus was on getting back to her season-high shot put throw, a 35’8” back in April at ConVal’s home meet. Since then, she hasn’t gotten back up over 32’, but if she gets back near her PR, it could mean a Meet of Champions appearance.

One thing in her corner: coach Aborn’s instruction to get mad at the shot put.

“I kind of have to get in the zone,” Bell said. “Sometimes [Aborn] is like ‘Get angry with it, and don’t care.’”

Bell and Murray are just two of the ConVal athletes heading to Kennett on Saturday for the Division II state meet.

The Cougars’ girls’ 4x800 could be the team to watch. Lucy Freeman, Clare Veverka, Hailey Doherty and Rachel Hurley are poised to improve on their seed time of 10:21.57, which would put them on the verge of a ConVal school record.

Hurley and Doherty are both having breakout seasons; they’ll run the 4x400M relay and the 1600M as well. Freeman is eighth-seeded in the 800M, where she PR’d last weekend at the Monadnock Invitational at 2:28.06.

Sawyer Cawthern, who head coach Lance Flamino said “made some big improvements this season,” qualified in the 1600M and will make her first championship appearance in an open event.

Maddie Garland, the final member of the 4x400M relay, will run the 400M as well, where she has been cutting time all year long and could beat her PR of 1:03.93.

Savanna Hall is seeded sixth in the discus.

“[She] has been steadily improving throughout the season and looking to keep that trend going,” Flamino said.

And Veverka, ConVal’s top distance runner, is battling some nagging injuries, but is always a threat in the 3200M. Her top time this year is 11:19.24, a good 30 seconds back of runners like Souhegan’s Madeline Hunt and Manchester West’s Julia Robitaille. Still, she is always capable of surprises and could be in the mix for a top three spot.

This year, the top three finishers in each division will make the Meet of Champions.

ConVal’s boys don’t have MOC-caliber seedings, but anything could happen.

Murray is seeded seventh in shot put (42’8”) and discus (126’2”), and there doesn’t appear to be any stopping Goffstown’s Oliver Gunski in those events (49’10” and 150’2”, respectively). Still, Murray hopes to set new personal bests and make the MOCs.

“I come out here to compete,” Murray said. “I want to try and be the best that I can be.”

Joining Murray in the throwing events will be Sean Boggis, new to the track team. He’ll throw the javelin and also compete in long jump and the 4x400 relay. Nick Bernier also qualified for his first state meet, in shot put.

Liam Baldwin will try for a new best in the triple jump.

“[He’s] feeling good and hoping to pop a good one,” Flamino said, “as his PR is within a foot of the top seed.” Baldwin’s best is 39’7.25”, back of Lebanon’s Zach Petrin (40’8.25”).

Liam Veverka, a year out of ACL surgery, has been getting better every race and hopes to keep the streak alive in the 3200M, where he is seeded 11th.

Evan Coyne will anchor the 4x400M and 4x800M relays, where ConVal could pick up some time — and some points. And, Carter Hunt will race in the 1600M. A combination of those two, Dylan Coyne, Palmer Timmons and Finn Wegmueller will make up the balance of the relay squads.

Division III

The rest of the area schools — Wilton-Lyndeborough, Conant and Mascenic — will be at Winnisquam for the Division III meet on Saturday, and there’s a good chance of them bringing back a few medals.

Conant’s Taylor Banish is the No. 1 seed in the pole vault; she has cleared 8’6”, while no one else in the division has bested 7’6”.

“She’s been making huge gains there,” head coach Erin Kelly said.

She’ll also throw the javelin, though Gilford’s Marina Baer and her 133’9” PR look unbeatable.

Abby Drew, fresh off a school record, looks to continue her success in the long jump, where she’s the top seed; twin sister Haylie is not far behind at No. 3 and also nabbed the No. 2 spot in the 200M.

“She’s been putting in the work, and it’s showing,” Kelly said.

Abby is also No. 5 in the 100M.

Isabella Mormando has been transitioning away from distance and is now most focused on the 800M, where she’s seeded eighth, five seconds back of Moultonborough’s Rebecca Velie (2:27.84). She’ll have a tough turnaround, as she’ll still run the 3200M.

Jordan Banish has been working hard in the hurdles and hopes to outperform her best (17.84).

For the boys, Caleb Olson made it into the 1600M, where hell look to end his senior season on a high note.

Tyler Bennett continues his quest for a school record in the pole vault, where he’s seeded sixth.

Mascenic’s Jake Movsessian has his final shot at a divisional championship in the 3200M.

“We’ve been working on his speed this season and I believe he has the tools to get it done,” said head coach Mike Smith.

Movsessian’s best this year is 2:06.91; he’ll be chasing Ian Daly of Inter-Lakes and his sub-2 finishes.

Bryce Vaillancourt has an outside shot at the javelin, where he is seeded sixth.

Newcomer Meagan Brand qualified in shot put, throwing a 31’, not far back of White Mountains’ Sadie Bushway and Monadnock’s Julia Randall, who are both right around 33’.

DJ Turner, Logan Thibault and Dakota Somero will all run the 1600M, with Turner in the 3200M and Thibault in the 800M as well.

“It wouldn't be out of the question for one of them to pop a good one, but who is anyone's guess,” Smith said.

Wilton-Lyndeborough’s entries are highlighted by Samuel Bailey, who is in all three throwing events.

“It will be interesting to see what he can do,” said head coach Alison Hayden.

Freshman Valari Vander-Heyden made it into the state meet in the 800M, and fellow rookie Mackenzie Hayden is in the 1600M. “As freshmen, going to states this year will be very much a learning experience for them,” coach Hayden said.

Katie Hanisch has improved her racing strategy this season, which led to a new PR in the 400M last Saturday. She’ll run that event at Winnisquam this weekend

“I couldn't be more proud of all of them,” Hayden said.

We’ll have the full results in Tuesday’s Ledger-Transcript.

Sports Editor Ben Conant can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 226 or bconant@ledgertranscript.com.