The 66th New England Interscholastic Track and Field Championships heads north to Burlington Vermont, and the state’s biggest city will be a buzz of excitement as New England’s finest take one last shot at the record books. Marquee names can be found all over the performance list, and nationally ranked stars Pecious Holmes, Andrea Keklak, Abbey Leonardi, Nadia Eke, and Lindsay Crevoiserat are sure to thrill the crowd. Below is a look at each event and some of the top qualifiers from each state.
Precious Holmes (Hillhouse, CT) is slated for a long day. That may be good news for her competitors, but the only problem is, she does it every week. Holmes is the top seed in the 100m, 200m and the 400m. She will most likely earn a lane in the center of the track if she can replicate the 12.03 performance that won her the Connecticut State Championship. Santina Williams (Prince Tech, CT) finished second (12.15)in that race and is the #3 seed entering Saturday’s championship.
Royal Cheatham (Hope, RI) may have the best chance of challenging in the finals. She won her state meet in 12.04 after posting a state record time of 11.97 in the preliminaries. Jamie Dorsey (E. Greenwich, RI) was second in that race at 12.58, and it will be interesting to see how fast Cheatham can run when pressed for a full 100m.
Mollie Gribbin (S. Burlington, VT) will have the home town crowd and a ton of experience on her side. She won her state meet in 12.24 and is the current New England Champion at 55m. Gribbin ran 12.24 en route to winning four events (100m, 200m, LJ, TJ) and helping her team to a state title. She will be joined by Emma Rice (Boston Latin, MA) and 6 other athletes who have run under 12.40. Rice won the Massachusetts State Championships in 12.23 and was second indoors to Gribbin in the 55m .
Precious Holmes is once again the top seed, and as the race distance increases, so does the gap to second place. Holmes ran 24.58 to win the Connecticut State Meet and fend-off Nyoshee Lowry (Danbury, CT) for the win. Lowry is the #2 seed at 24.86 and will have her hands full with Rhode Island State Champion Royal Cheatham (24.93) and Massachusetts State Champion Cory Ryan (Norwood, MA). Selena Yates of Holyoke, Massachusetts is the only other qualifier with a time under 25 seconds, but 14 girls are lumped in that 25 second range and making the finals will be an all-out fight.
This is where Precious Holmes really shines, and where we may see a 25 year old meet record fall. Holmes is the top seed and won her state meet in a US#2 time of 53.16. The current meet record is 54.6 set in 1986 by Tasha Dowling of Boston Tech.
For the rest of the athletes in Connecticut, it’s tough to be in a state with one of the best 400m runners in the country, but Tiffany Harrison (Bloomfield, CT) knows that the competition can only help her. She was second to Holmes at the Connecticut State Championships in 55.91; a time that would have won her every other state meet in New England. She will be joined by Rebecca Robinson (Arlington, MA) in the center of the track and the two will set off on the daunting task of trying to manage Holmes’ grueling early pace. Robinson is the Massachusetts State Meet record holder at 56.22 and has a season best time of 55.03. In addition, she is no stranger to competing with Holmes. Back in early March, Robinson got the best of Holmes to win the 300m at the New England Indoor Championships in a meet record time of 39.08 (race video). But, an extra 100m is a lot to deal with when competing against Precious Holmes.
Sarah Gillespie (Northwest Catholic, CT) is the defending champion and the top seed at 2:11.77. Gillespie and freshman Madeline Berkson (Classical High, RI) are going to attempt a 1600m/800m double; something both did very successfully at their state championships. Both have tremendous foot speed (running 2:55.37 and 2:57.74 in the 1000m to finish 1-2 at the New England Indoor championships), but 5 other girls have run under 2:16.00 and a very fast early pace may be just enough to take the sting out of their final 100m.
Again, Sarah Gillespie is the top seed at 4:49.89. Her time is US#23 and it puts her dangerously close to the 4:47.3 meet record set in 1985 by Eileen Lillig of Rutland, Vermont. 7 other girls have run under 5 minutes and 12 have run under 5:03. That tight pack might be exactly what Gillespie hopes for so she can sit in the group and save some energy for the 800m.
But be careful what you wish for, because that pack contains some high caliber athletes. Kelsey Smith is the Rhode Island State Champion (4:56.59), Aubrey Waggoner is the Connecticut State Champion (4:58.29), and Marika Crowe is the Massachusetts State Champion (4:58.69 converted). Add to that, Elinore Purrier (Richmond, VT) who won all the distance races at her state championship (400, 800, 1600, 3200) and Madeline Berkson who Gillespie will square-off with twice that day, and you can see why this event will not be a cakewalk. (MA race video).
Abbey Leonardi (Kennebunk, ME) is the top seed (10:42.63) and the defending champion. In 2010 she won the event in 10:26.48 and narrowly missed the meet record of 10:25.20. This year she looks to be in position to take another stab at the record after she ran a US#18 time of 10:27.36 earlier in the season. (Race video).
Leonardi will be in control of the race, but to capture the meet record she will need some help from the likes of Catarina Rocha (Peabody, MA) and Chloe Maleski (Keen, NH); at least in the first half. Rocha is a Foot Locker Cross Country National finalist and the Massachusetts State Champion at 10:50.68. She boasts a season best of 10:48.15 and has looked very comfortable leading almost every race. Maleski is the New Hampshire State Champion at 10:53.38 and won that event by roughly 7 seconds over Kelsey Smith of Exeter.
But just as there was at the Indoor Championships, there may be a surprise hiding in the pack. Aisha McAdams (N. Kingstown, RI) took on the biggest name in New England distance running and went toe-to-toe with Lindsay Crevoiserat at the 2011 New England Indoor Championships. The diminutive McAdams pressed the pace lap after lap to eventually pull away for the win in 10:42.36. McAdams is certainly not a surprise anymore, but can history repeat itself?
Rounding out the pack should be Camille Blackman (Longmeadow, MA) and Katie Carlson (Wachusett, MA). Both ran under 11 minutes last week at the Massachusetts State Championships but Carlson did it with one shoe after being clipped early in the race. The condition of her foot and her ability to train this week remains unknown, but one thing is certain, she is very tough .
Girls 100m Hurdles
Vanessa Clerveaux (Brockton, MA) seems to rise to the occasion every time there is a challenge. She enters the meet as the #1 seed and has not lost a 100m hurdles race this season. That is a remarkable feat given the depth of the event in Massachusetts. Once again, she will be challenged by Kayla Wong (Newton North, MA) who has run 14.76, Nicole Genard (Somerville, MA) who is MA#2 at 14.68, Karla Ganley (Wellesley, MA) who has run 14.97, and Kristen McDonagh (Mansfield, MA) who has run 15.00.
But the Conneticut and New Hampshire state meets were just as competitive. Betsy Garnick (Bishop Guertin, NH) is the New Hampshire State Champion at 14.73. She was challenged by Hillary Holmes (Exeter, NH) who finished second in 14.84, and Ginny Lavalle (Sanborn Regional, NH) who was third in 14.96. In addition, Lavalle was 2nd in the 55m at the New England Indoor Championships and Holmes was 3rd.
Two athletes from Connecticut also ran under 15 seconds at their state championships and should be vying for a center lane in the finals. Nyoshee Lowry (Danbury, CT) is the Connecticut State Champion and the #4 seed at 14.82, and Arianna Rivera (Manchester, CT) is the #6 seed at 14.88.
Girls 300m Hurdles
Massachusetts is the only state in New England to run the 400m hurdles and it makes an apples-to-apples comparison difficult at best. Alex Stanton’s resume and accomplishments over the past month combat the inaccuracies involved in converting a 400m hurdles time to a 300m hurdles time, and she has certainly earned the #1 seed. Stanton set a new meet record of 59.52 in the 400m hurdles (43.13 converted) last week at the Massachusetts All-State Championships and is currently US#2 in that event. She handed Jen Esposito (Mansfield, MA) a rare loss, and although Esposito wasn’t thrilled with second place, she still ran an impressive time of 61.14 (44.31 converted). Esposito is currently US#10, and most certainly will bounce back this week.
Peyton Dostie (Bonny Eagle, MA) has also been rewriting the record books in Maine. She won her state meet in new meet record time of 44.67 and will be challenged by 8 girls that have run in the 45 second range.
Girls 4x100m Relay
Hope High School (RI) is the top seed at 47.95 and the only team in the field to qualify with a time under 48 seconds. But clean exchanges are the name of the game in the 4x100m relay and Danbury (CT) is counting on a technically sound race to help them crack that barrier. They are currently the #2 seed at 48.23 and were 3rd in the 4x200m at the New England Indoor Championships. Those two should be challenged by Brockton (MA), who has been on a winning streak over the past month, and Windsor (CT) who ran 49.09 at the Connecticut State Championships and was also the 4x200m Champions at the New England Indoor Championships.
Girls 4x400m Relay
Connecticut is the sprint powerhouse of New England and the 4x400m relay is no exception. 3 of the top 7 seeds are from the Constitution State, with Windsor leading the way at 3:49.59. But Bloomfield is not far behind at 3:50.88 and they ran a new meet record time of 3:56.17 to win the New England Indoor Championships.
The next 4 teams on the performance list are from Massachusetts, and a very tight race last week pulled each to season best times. Andover is the #3 seed at 3:57.24, and they will once again be challenged by Wellesley (3:57.94), Lexington (3:57.98), and Northampton (3:58.26).
Girls 4x800m Relay
Bishop Guertin (Nashua, NH) is the #1 seed at 9:15.02. They bring a very balanced attack of strength and speed to the table with 800m state champion Molly McCabe (2:16.14) and 400m state champion Ceilia Barowski (56.58).
But Lincoln-Sudbury (MA) has their sights on a championship and possibly the 2001 Meet Record of 9:12.16 set by Bromfield. L-S is the #2 seed at 9:16.11 but they will have a fresh Andrea Keklak at anchor. Keklak has run under 2:10 twice this year; once at a dual meet (2:09.00) and again to win the Division 1 Championships (2:08.78). She is a good runner up front, but an even better runner in pursuit. She will be joined by Sarah Mepham (2:23.95), Megan Broecker (2:20.87), and Massachusetts Mile Champion Marika Crowe (2:14.70).
Windsor (CT) is the defending champion and the #3 seed at 9:20.62. In 2010 they won the event in 9:14.69 and only lost one member of that team. But they take a markedly different approach to the event in comparison to the two teams seeded ahead of them. Sydnee Over is US#4 at 400m (53.62) and Medinah Nabadukka has run 2:17.70. Lincoln-Sudbury likes to run slowest to fastest, but this philosophy just might keep Windsor in the race long enough to hand the baton to Oliver who is one of the finest sprinters in the nation.
Two other teams to watch are Glastonbury (CT) and LaSalle Academy (RI). Glastonbury is the #4 seed at 9:22.05 and will be anchored by Lindsay Crevoiserat. She has run 4:49.53 for the mile and just won the Connecticut State Meet 3200m in a new meet record time of 10:35.02. LaSalle Academy is the #7 seed at 9:28.68 and was second to South Kingstown (9:22.12)at the Rhode Island State Championships, but LaSalle was 3rd indoors at 9:18.38 and is always dangerous.
Girls Long Jump
Maya Walton (Danbury, CT) is the NE England Indoor Champion (18’5.25”), the Connecticut Outdoor Champion (18’8”), and the Connecticut Indoor Champion (19’3”). She brings an impressive resume to the meet, but she is not the top seed. In fact, she is the #4 seed.
Royal Cheatham (Hope, RI) is the top seed and the Rhode Island State Campion at 19’0.75”. She was 12th at the New Balance Indoor Natiobnals (18’1.75”) and is also the Rhode Island State Champion in the 100m (12.04). She has plenty of runway speed to jump over 19 feet and will be eyeing the 1985 meet record of 19’2.5” set by Pam Hughes.
Nadia Eke (Holy Name, MA) is the Massachusetts State Champion in the long jump and the triple jump. Last week she was pushed to the limit and had to muster-up a jump of 18’11.25” to win the title on her final attempt. That experience was a good test for her and Eke has proven she has the poise, confidence, and competitive drive to challenge for the win.
Arashana Yanes (Nashua South, NH) and Karly Gregroy (Prout, RI) will also be in the hunt for a top 3 finish. Yanes in the New Hampshire State Champion at 18’8.5” and Gregory is the 5th seed at 18’3.5”.
Girls Triple Jump
Nadia Eke is the top seed and enters the meet with a mark that exceeds the current meet record of 40’3” set in 2001 by Chi-Chi Aduba of Medfield. In addition, she is the defending champion and won the Massachusetts State Championship at 41’6”. Her season best of 41'9" is currently US#2.
Mollie Gribbin (S. Burlington, VT) is the #2 seed and will have the comfort of a familiar venue. Last week at the same track she won four events, and as expected, the long day took a toll on Gribbin. But she was savvy enough to shut things down after setting a winning mark on her second jump. With her speed, and a full set of attempts, Gribbin can break the 40 foot barrier.
Kaylnn Pitts (Woonsocket, RI), Hillary Holmes (Exeter, NH) and Vanessa Clerveaux (Brockton, MA) have all jumped 37’9” or better and will be in contention for a top 3 finish.
Girls Shot Put
Courtney Williams (New Bedford, MA) has been dominant in Massachusetts this season and she extends that pressure to the rest of New England. This weekend she is the #1 seed at 43’00.75” and is over 2 feet ahead of Nikki Taylor (York, ME) the #2 seed (41’00.50).
Cherraine Davis (Southington, CT) is the Connecticut State Champion and the #3 seed at 40’10”. She finished second at the New England Indoor Championships at 40’1.5” and has thrown 41’8.75” this season. Davis will be joined by Cathy Lebowitz (Lebanon, NH) who was 3rd indoors at 39’7.25” and qualified for the outdoor championships with a state winning throw of 40’2”.
Amy Desrosiers (Salem, NH) is the defending champion (123’10”) and the New Hampshire State Champion at 132’11”. She enters the meet as the #2 seed behind Megan Rose Chapman (Stonington, CT) who is the Connecticut State Champion at 134’4”. Desrrosiers and Chapman should be joined in the finals by Lisa Winslow (Londonberry, NH) who qualified for the meet with a throw of 130’3”. After that, the field drops to 126’2”, but don’t be surprised if the excitement of the day causes someone in the field to launch a huge personal best.
Keila Grigware (Biddleford, MA) is the Maine Class A Champion and #4 seed at 131’10”. But she is the two-time defending champion with a personal best of 139’7”. History has shown that she really likes this meet, but defending her championship against Krista Vincent (Somersworth, NH) and Megan McHugh (N. Attleboro, MA) may be her toughest challenge yet.
Vincent is the #2 seed and won the New Hampshire State Championship with a throw of 137’7”. McHugh is the #1 seed and Massachusetts State Champion at 141’02”. Her mark is US#17 and was a huge breakthrough, but the performance was no fluke. She threw 138’2” in a dual meet and hails from a very well respected throwing program. Both will be joined by Katie Cataldo (Bishop Feehan, MA) and Nicole Genard (Somerville, MA)who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively at the Massachusetts All-State Meet.
Girls Pole Vault
Connecticut dominates the pole vault field with 6 of the top 8 qualifying spots. Leading the way is Katherine Watts (Valley Regional, CT) who enters the meet with a mark that ties the current meet record of 12’0”, and the high pressure competition at the Connecticut State Meet pushed Allison Sullivan (Norwich Free) to a second place finish in 11’6”. If that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth Crafford (Darien), Michelle Grecni (Danbury), Lexie Schachne (Staples)and Erica Litvak (Weston) all finished at 11’0”.
It may be a Connecticut sweep at the end of the day, but Karla Ganley (Wellesley, MA) and Claire Simons (St. Johnsbury, VT) won their respective state meets at 11’0” and hope to break up the Connecticut group.
Girls High Jump
Dakota Dailey-Harris (LaSalle Academy, RI) is the top seed and the Rhode Island Champion at 5’9.25”. In addition, she finished second at the New England Indoor Championships with a jump of 5’5”. But the highest ranked athlete in the group is Moira Cronin of Andover, Massachusetts. Cronin was the 2010 Champion at 5’9”, won the Massachusetts State Meet at 5’8”, and unleashed a 5’10” bomb to win the Massachusetts Division 1 Championship. Her mark is currently tied for US#3.
Ronea Saunders (Lyman Hall, CT) is the Connecticut State Champion and the #2 seed at 5’8”. She jumped 5’9” to win the Connecticut Class L Championship and is followed by Kaylnn Pitts (Woonsocket, RI) and Kristen McDonagh (Mansfield, MA) both at 5’7”. McDonagh has jumped 5’8” and was the New England Indoor Champion at 5’7”.