Even though Mother Nature does not agree that it’s time for spring track to get earnestly started, several southern NH schools do! Both Nashua North and Pelham High Schools’ open the high school invitational season in New Hampshire with their meets this weekend. We will be heading to Pelham along with a large number of other Division II schools, and it would be great to have anyone going to Nashua tomorrow to share their observations after the meet. Best of luck to all athletes this weekend!
Compounding the problems of lack of knowledge of Division 1 is the fact that roughly 1/3 of the scoring athletes from last years meet were seniors. Those gaps are hard to predict, even when simply moving up the best remaining finishers.
- Nashua North – Hard to not put the Titans back in the number one spot, despite their loss to Pinkerton this winter. They have too many strengths on and off the track.
- Pinkerton – Though they won the indoor title, almost all of the Astros points came on the track, with the additional field events outdoors, a team usually has to score a decent number off the track to win.
- Bedford – Close on the heels of Pinkerton could be the Bulldogs. A seemingly endless stream of talented sprinters and throwers has this team in contention every year.
- Exeter – The Blue Hawks feature one of the top throwers and one of the top distance runners in the division.
- Concord – The Tide have one of the top hurdlers in the state, but will be hard placed to find a replacement for BJ Smith and his double win last year.
Not being as familiar with Division 1, these preseason rankings contain only what can be found on last years meet results. Many teams lost top seniors from their squads, and others have underclassmen who will likely play key roles in their absence.
- Bedford – The defending champion Bulldogs have the best group of underclassmen returning to version 2014. Again the team appears well rounded with very few weaknesses.
- Londonderry – Relays and throws seem to be the Lancers strong points returning to the squad. Can they put together a team like last years and challenge Bedford once again? If any team can it should be Londonderry.
- Winnacunnet – The Warriors have a small number of standout athletes who could run the tables in jumps, throws and distance. Watch for them to be close to any team ahead of them by the end of the meet.
- Exeter – The Blue Hawks have been searching for a four event athlete since the departure of Hillary Holmes in 2012. Their strengths are on the track where it becomes very tough to quadruple, but they certainly are strong in those track events.
- Bishop Guertin – After seeing what the Cardinals put together this winter, expect them to probably finish higher than 5th. But based purely off of last years meet they took the biggest hit with the loss of Betsy Garnick and her 36 points in the meet.
Indoor track showed us the re-emergence of the Lebanon girls to the Division 2 track scene, replete with a very talented freshman who brings to mind memories of another dominant sprinter the Raiders had in the middle of the previous decade. The Black Bears of Coe-Brown will be licking a few of their wounds early on, inflicted by departing seniors, but look for them to bounce back by the end of the season. Merrimack Valley, Milford and Oyster River should all bring strong teams to Pelham to battle for the championship. Preseason rankings based on last year’s meet with seniors removed:
- Coe-Brown – The girls lost key seniors in the jumps and relays, spots they will be looking hard to fill. The two-time defending champs are not resting on past accomplishments, they will be going after every point that is available to them, knowing that every team in the division will be hunting for Black Bears.
- Lebanon – The Raiders strong showing this winter proved that they are back, do not be surprised by other unknown additions to the spring squad. One thing that Lebanon is known for is finding new talent.
- Merrimack Valley – The Pride return some top quality throwers and have again found a talented newcomer, this time in the distance events, who could shake things up and spoil other teams’ day. Relays could be their key this year.
- Oyster River – The Bobcats have one of the best sprinter/distance combos in the state right now, and when they combine forces as they did in the 4×400 this winter, they can be hard to beat. If the girls want to challenge the top teams they must find some field event points.
- Milford – The Spartans have some great young high jumpers, as they seem to have every year, as unpredictable as the event can be, the rewards could be great for the Milford girls. Of the top teams in the division they will be the ones looking for some distance points to aid their cause.
As is the case every year with the boys state meet, it’s full of seniors, and each year a new crop of underclassmen steps in to fill the gaps. Thus the state meet this year will be just as difficult to predict as in years past. Indoor track gives a bit of insight about the top three returning teams Lebanon, Portsmouth and Souhegan. All three teams lost quality seniors, but all three seem to have rebounded nicely. Add in young Merrimack Valley and Milford teams and we begin to see the picture come into focus. Here are rankings based on last year’s meet with seniors removed:
- Lebanon – Fresh off their indoor championship the raiders return a strong field event squad with each member able to triple and even quadruple in the meet. This years team will be tough to beat.
- Portsmouth – Runner up to Lebanon this winter, the Clippers showed how diverse their team is, scoring points in just about every part of the meet. Given some additional experience this spring, this team could win it all.
- Souhegan – Of the top three teams the defending champion Sabres lost the largest number of scoring seniors including the bulk of two winning relay teams. They do return the best hurdler in Division 2 as well as some quality distance and middle distance, will they be able to find some field event balance?
- Merrimack Valley – The Pride should factor into relays as they always seem to be able to find versatile multi-event athletes. If anyone is able to break up Portsmouth and Lebanon’s field event scoring look for it to be from MV.
- Milford – The Spartans return the best pole vaulter in the state by a good margin. How will the Milford team surround its nucleus? Look for some hurdlers and sprinters to emerge later in the season.
The first day of spring has has come and gone, colder than the first day of indoor track, but that will change soon enough!
Later this week preseason rankings will be posted, and those who have waited a long off-season to debate about who the best boys distance runner is in NH can resume back on this site, if they haven’t abandoned us altogether. Keep it civil though gents.
We’d also love to hear more from coaches around the state and share in your wisdom and insight.
Here’s to a great new season!
Yesterday, amidst all the snow was the national signing day for track and field athletes to NCAA schools. Any NH athletes sign with schools yesterday? We’d be interested in posting them, along with a picture if you took one. Let us know where NH athletes are headed next year!