MIAA Division I Preview


While Saturday's DI Championships each have a significant favorite, Acton-Boxboro on the boys side and Newton North on the girls, the teams behind them are talking about strategies to take down the beasts above. A-B asks superstar Brian Sommers to score up to 30 points, and Newton North will be buoyed by Meghan Bellerose and Michaela Smith. But what truly separates these two teams from their respective packs is the incredible depth they both possess. Today, we break down the DI Championship meet, arguably the most talented of the classes.

DI Boys

Brian Sommers is a beat- plain and simple. Given the season that Newton North's Ryan Lucken has had in the 300 (MA #2), to think that anyone else could be the top seed in the divisional meet is almost laughable. Sommers is just that, and his day could be tremendous if Coach Crossmann allows it to be. Sommers is the top seed in the long jump, but has Xaverian's Kyle Darrow (MA #3) on his heels. He's seeded just a tick behind Somerville's Andre Rollim in the 600, these two possessing the state's top two times in that event. Sommers has 30 point ALL STATE MEET potential, something that has never been done, and might never be done. And he's the key to A-B taking home the win in this meet. However, he's far from the only thing they have going for them. Tim Cox will race the 1000, an epic battle that could feature L-S's Josh Kerber, Newton North's Gabe Montague, Brookline's Sam Burrington, and Lowell's Mike Killa Kalenoski, all seeded within one second of each other. A-B has the top seeded 4x200 and 4x400, although Sommers' presence in one or neither will possibly make a difference there. Long jumper/ dasher William Tejadaand hurdler Henry Zhou will add key points.

If there's any slippage from A-B, then it will be either Lowell or Newton North, two well-coached and experienced teams, to take the opening. North will rely on Lucken and Montague, as well as shot putter Carl Whitham, high jumper Nick Fofana, and long jumper David Oluwadara for the bulk of its points, but always has relay depth to contend late in meets. Lowell gets big potential points from shot put favorite Colin Hoey, high jumper Mike Holder, and the distance crew of Kalenoski, Johnny Abraham, and Patt Coppinger. Expect Lowell's 4x800 to compete with Brookline for the win, and the 4x400 should feature all of the top 3 teams battling, perhaps with the whole meet on the line. Something to consider with Lowell, having not run the MVC meet due to the snowstorm, they appear to be underseeded in many events. Look out for that.

Some of the other individual races to look for, aside from the 1000, which is simply must-watch stuff (Infa should just announce to everyone to turn and look). The 4x800 is another relay that could feature all of the major players, and given that only 11 teams made the meet, A-B or North could steal some key points here. A-B looks safe in the 4x200, but Cambridge is right on their heels, and with likely no Sommers here, can they hold on? (As an aside, why is the 4x200 so easy to qualify for and the 4x800 so hard?) The top 7 seeds in the high jump are all seeded at 6'4", making this truly anyone's game. Fofana and Holder are joined by Cambridge's Rafael Guzman, Revere's TarikMaddrey, Lexington's Daniel Finch, Westford's Qadir Barnard-Pratt, and BC High's Osaevbie Woghiren in an event that could decide this meet in many ways. With the top seed only at 6'4", A-B not having a jumper is unfortunate, as they could steal even more points here. Nolan Parsley is a runaway seed in the two mile, but there's a little someone named Jon Green of Saint John's to look out for. The mile will be awesome to watch, as Methuen's Mike O'Donnell tries to fend off the likes of Brookline's Sam Burrington. Newton South's Jung Park is the top hurdler, while his teammate Ryan Kim is the #2 shot putter, and Xaverian's Kyle Darrow should have his hands full in the dash with Boston Latin's Kevin Chen.


DI Girls

Newton North just wins this meet every year, so why anybody else bothers to show up is a mystery to me. News of Carla Forbes missing the indoor season may have brought a glimmer of hope to the competition, but Coach Tranchita simply churns out star athletes, and found a few diamonds in Shannon Fitzgerald and Christina Galvano to add depth where Forbes was missing. The key to North's success isn't Meghan Bellerose, who will win the 600, nor is it Michaela Smith, who will win the shot put, its Fitzgerald and Galvano, who would seem likely to double the 4x400 with Bellerose and Madison Nadeau (who is a highly seeded 300 runner), and 4x200 with any number of quick-footed sprinters the Tigers have in their arsenal. On paper, the only points that aren't safe are the 4x800 points, but a team of Maeve Greeley, Cookie Koch, Evie Heffernan, and Kaylee Spitaels will score plenty. Ironically, Jump Town USA might be shut out in the jumping events for the first time in recent memory at this meet, and still could score 50 points. Amazing!

What if North drops a few points? While certainly possible, there are too many teams to mention them all in this space that could steal the win from North. Weymouth is one, but has no event winners. They need big days from Morgan Fitzgibbon in the mile/1000, Ashley Betts in the mile/2 mile, Jen Kimball in the hurdles, long, and high jump, Nostia Amazan in the shot put, and relay points to contend. Peabody has Catarina Rocha as the top seed in both the mile and two mile, Heather MacLean as a big scorer in the 600, and Pamela Zabala in the shot put. Lincoln-Sudbury has Lucy Alexander, the potential high jump champion (although her co-MA #1, Wachusett's Amy Collins, might have a word to say about that) and their usual distance prowess from Sydney Clary, Morgane Butler, Katie LaScaleia, and others. Andover will score points in the shot put with Cassandra Kobelski, hurdles with Courtney Comeau, and has a stable of long jumpers and relay runners to close down on North. Lowell will ask the tandem of Bryanna Allison and Kaley Richards to score plenty of points in the mile and 1000, will likely bring that dup back for an impressive 4x800, and has Sam Carson to place in the shot. Camridge will use stars Sydney Fisher in the dash and Maya Halprin-Adams in either the 600 or 1000, take a shot at the win in the 4x200, and hope for a big day out of shot putter Anchella Bernard. Lexington is simply deep, featuring a 4x400 of Camille Isern, Robin Gross, Melissa Solomon, and Olivia Manikas-Hill, all of whom will place in the 300 or 600. Brockton will hope for a pair of wins out of Particia Monteiro in the long jump and hurdles, as well as a big day in the 4x200. In short, if North isn't as good as they can be, there's no shortage of teams to come and take it from them.

There are some other individual races worth teasing as well. Brianna Robitaille of Attleboro, and Amanda Henson of Barnstable will square off in an exciting 55 meters. New Bedford's Melissa Isidor, the lone holdover from last year's ridiculous divisional hurdles final, will try to stay a beat ahead of Montiero. The two will meet in the long jump pit as well as the top two seeds. Alexander and Collins will be putting on a show at the high jump pit. Shrewsbury's Dominique Hall will have her hands full in the 300 with A-B's Maya Jarostchuk. The 1000 will be a fun battle between Allison and Halprin-Adams, if she elects to stay here, and watch out for Wachusett freshman Kate Gobi and Morgan Fitzgibbon as well. The Rocha watch will be on... will she double? My guess is no, but if she goes to the mile, look for A-B's Christine Davis and Westfield's Allison Morin to battle for the deuce and if she goes 2 mile, that should open the door for someone like Allison or Sydney Clary in the mile. And, perhaps the tightest race of the day will be the 4x800, if Bellerose goes to the 4x400. Andover, Lowell, Weymouth, Lexington, Newton South, and Franklin all have the legs to win, but never make the mistake of counting out a hungry Lincoln-Sudbury team, who is my pick to take a trophy in this meet.