By Mike Smith
As we gear up for the championship season, we see many “last chance” meets on the schedule, and one of the longest running one is the Wilderness Championships happening this year at Gilford High School. In it’s 46th year, the Wilderness championships allows for some higher level competition to help tune up for the following week’s Division 3 championships to be held at Winnisquam. Here’s a look at some of the prime players and interesting stories to unfold.
Gilford has a cadre of female sprinters sprinkled throughout the short events. Look for names like the Fraser sisters, Lauren Dean and Laurel Gingrich to be pushing the pace, along with Greta Achenbach of I-L, Gosselin Tucker of Kingswood and Delaney Kjendal of Portsmouth Christian to be in the mix.
Hunter Dupuis of Belmont heads two of the three sprint categories and is ranked second in the third so expect him to be leading the pack in his races. Other names to look for would be Gavyn Magistro of Kearsarge, Eli Dupigny and Ian Daly of I-L, and Fiston Kapongo of Portsmouth Christian.
Mid-Distance and Distance
Rebecca Velie Of Moultonborough is the two time D3 champion in the 800 and it would be silly to bet against her as she’s a 5 second seed ahead of PCA’s Liza Corso. Corso has proven herself a tough competitor over both the cross and indoor track seasons. Third in line is Kearsarge’s Mya Dube, but expect her to contest in the 1600 and 3200 where she is the top seed in both. Along with Dube, Corso and Velie, watch for Belmont’s Alice Riley, who won the D3 3200 meter title last year and is the fourth seed in the 1600 and second seed in the 3200.
The aforementioned Ian Daly is the top seed in the 800 (second in the 1600), with Kingswood’s Wyatt Pooler in the second spot just ahead of Moutonborough’s Tyler McLaughlin. McLaughlin is the first seed in both the 1600 and 3200. Other names to watch would be White Mountains Sam Call, Belmont’s Nick Randos and Zach Ennis, Hunter Burns of Kearsarge, and the boys from Mascenic. While Mascenic boys tend to stay away from their bread and butter event in the 3200, expect them to be pushing the limits in the shorter long races to get ready for D3s.
In the girls races, expect the trio of Taima Ronish of White Mountains, Emma Wheeler of I-L, and Sana Syed of Belmont to challenge for hurdle supremacy in both the 100HH and 300IH races. For the guys hurdles, you can likely focus on one name, Fiston Kapongo of Portsmouth Christian. With his speed between the hurdles making a danger in the sprints, his command in the hurdle events sees him as a first seed in both events by one second and 3 seconds respectively. So if you’re looking for a sure bet in this meet, boys hurdles might be it.
In high jump, Julia Ahern of Plymouth is a two-inch seed over Gabby Clark of Prospect Mountain, and Alison Haight and Wheeler of I-L. Long jump and triple jump should be interesting with Wheeler and Ronish sitting in the top two spots with Ronish conceding 2 inches and then 2 feet in those events. Pole vault sees Nadia Van Dyne of Kennett a six inch seed over Haight of I-L.
Jack Parker of White Mountain leads Ben Corbyn in high jump as the two jumpers have cleared 6 feet. Long jump should be interesting as seven boys have jumped over 19 feet. Eli Dupigny of I-L leads all jumpers by three inches but Gilford has Korey Weston, Sandor Gamache and Finn Baldwin. This trio will be jumping in their home pits so look for the upset. Triple jump is led by Owen Billin of I-L who has almost a foot advantage over Gamache of Gilford. Pole vault sees Drew Schriewer of I-L and John Cunningham more than a foot advantage of the field.
In shot put, Gabby Isabelle of Winnisquam, Sadie Bushway of White Mountains and Rebekah Crane of Plymouth are the only three to break the 30 foot mark. Grace Gensamer and teammate Bushway and Ashley Lapointe of Berlin have all eclipsed the 90 foot mark in discus. Samantha Meier of Plymouth leads Joslyn Lanteigne of Berlin by seven feet in javelin.
Joey Fodor of Berlin and Rian Russo of Kingswood are the only two shot putters to break forty feet. Russo also leads disc by four feet over Zeke Pribbernow of White Mountains. Max Salathe of Kearsarge and Fodor of Berlin are head and shoulders ahead of the rest surpassing the 170’ mark with over a thirty foot advantage on the field.
Relays can be hard to predict with many teams shuffling their troops around prepping for the best fit for the weeks following D3 meet. On the girls side, Gilford is the favorite in the 4×100 with a seed time a second and a half faster than Moultonborough. In the 4×400, Gilford and Portsmouth Christian are in a tight battle with just a second separating them. In the 4×800, Kennett and Portsmouth Christian find themselves twenty second in advantage over the field.
For the boys, Belmont, Berlin and Kingswood have a second advantage over the field in the 4×100 in that order. InterLakes is the top seed in the 4×400 by five seconds over Belmont and the top seed by three seconds in the 4×800 over Mascenic.
Predicting the team scoring can be tough as athletes and teams try to find the best fit for the championship run. Last year the Kennett girls pulled off the win with points gleaned from a variety of events. Look for Gilford to move up, finishing fifth last year, but with many of their point scorers back as now veterans, they could take home the crown. White Mountains and InterLakes rounded out the top three last year and could likely be in the running for those same three spots this year.
Belmont boys won commandingly last year and should be in the driver’s seat once again. Behind them the scene is a little more murky. Kingswood and Plymouth finished second and third, but don’t seem to have as many point scorers as last year. Keep and eye on Kearsarge and Portsmouth Christian as Kapongo will be a force in whichever events he chooses.
As with the past couple years, NHTF.com will be there to record all the action and take many pics! Look for them on the meet hub. Also, event winners, make sure you make your way to the NHTF/Runners Alley Champions tent for your interview! To get you even more excited – below is last year’s meet!