D-III track & field: Kearsarge girls finish 2nd, Brady boys 3rd at state championship

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 05-27-2023 10:36 AM

The Kearsarge girls’ track and field team had a two-point lead over Newfound with just one event to go, but with the pole vault postponed a day due to rain, the Cougars had to wait another 24 hours to determine if that lead would hold.

In the end, Newfound’s Taylor Mooney won the pole vault by clearing 8 feet and teammate Mikayla Ulwick finished fourth to lift the Bears to back-to-back titles.  Newfound defended its crown with 86 points, topping Kearsarge’s 75.

But for a team that finished ninth last year and only had five girls on its indoor team this past winter, a runner-up plaque for the Cougars is hardly a disappointment.

“I was looking for maybe being in the top five, I thought that was reasonable,” Kearsarge head coach MaryAnn Morcom said. “These girls are amazing. They’re hard workers.”

Junior Molly Ellison certainly put in a hard day’s work on Wednesday on the Sanborn Regional High School track, winning both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter titles and also ran a leg on the runner-up 4x400 relay with fellow junior Amelia Lefebvre, sophomore Ava Shapiro and freshman Juliet Faria.

“(Molly) has brought her time down every (race),” Morcom said. “She’s run a bunch of different things and she keeps getting better and better.”

With a pair of state titles, the case can be made that Kearsarge has the best distance runner in D-III, but you could also argue that the Cougars boast one of the best all-around athletes.

Lefebvre finished second in the high jump, and fourth in both the shot put and the 400 meters, in addition to anchoring the 4x400.

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It’s a rare combination to have an athlete who can be that versatile in so many disciplines on both the track and field, but Morcom had pegged Lefebvre as a heptathlete early. While Lefebvre may have been skeptical at first, “She’s bought into it now,” according to Morcom.

When you also consider that Kearsarge had major scoring contributions from freshmen Juliet Faria (third 100, third 200), Maelle Jacques (second 1,600, fifth high jump) and Ainsley Frankiewich (sixth long jump), and sophomores Ellie Wimer (fourth 300 hurdles) and Shapiro (sixth 800), the outlook for the future of the Cougars’ girls’ track program is bright.

The only senior who contributed to the scoring on Wednesday night was Laela Moran who ran a leg of the fourth-place 4x800-meter relay with sophomores Shapiro, Wimer and Ava Valle.

“I love those girls. They’re exciting (to coach),” Morcom said. “They’re kind of a little crazy sometimes. But the motivation, the structure of what they do together, they’re a team.”

Hopkinton (56), Newmarket (54), Pelham (42), Belmont (39), Somersworth (25) and Winnisquam (20) round out the top eight girls’ team scores.

On the boys’ side, Gilford (73 points) and Pelham (65) were the top two teams after being locked in a battle for the lead the entire meet, while Bishop Brady – behind an outstanding crew of sprinters – finished in third with 40.

Brady only had five athletes compete, but all five earned All-State honors. Junior Josh Gentchos won both the 100-meter dash and the 200, and joined fellow junior Alan Yap (fifth in the 200), and seniors Chris Messmore and Jack Beauchesne on the record-setting 4x100-meter relay.

The quartet finished the relay in 44.31 seconds to break the previous D-III record of 44.70, also held by Bishop Brady, that was set in 1992.

Senior Nate Steigmeyer finished third in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the javelin, and ran on the 4x100 at points throughout the season. Steigmeyer was part of the 4x200 champion team this past indoor season that won the Division II title and competed at New Englands, although Messmore, who joined the team this outdoor season, became a regular on the relay this spring.

“The five of them have been interchangeable in that relay,” said head coach Diane Morey, whose daughter, Megan Mumper, coaches the sprints and relays. “It’s helped them drive each other. If someone is faster than you in practice, you want to catch them.”

Morey added, “Two years ago we put together a random relay with the four sprinters we had: Josh, Alan, Jack and Nick Brown. Last year, they finished second to Kearsarge. Second wasn’t enough, they wanted to win this year.”

This group has also put Bishop Brady track on the map, a place it hasn’t been in a very long time. Gentchos (indoor 55-meter dash champion) and the 4x200 relay were the first indoor track banners added to Bishop Brady’s gym in school history, and the five Giants have already earned more than that this spring.

Steigmeyer will compete on the track team for Providence College, while Beauchesne, who finished fifth in the 100 finals on Wednesday night, will run for St. Lawrence University.

Sanborn (39), Trinity (36), Newport (33) and Hopkinton (30) rounded out the top seven teams, with Winnisquam (28) finishing ninth and Belmont (10) tying for 17th.

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