Five champions and a pair of top-five team finishes for Tide track
Concord's Megan Reese clears the bar at 11 feet to win the pole vault title during the NHIAA D-1 track championship at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton on Sunday, June 1, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Angel Feliz crosses the finish line in fourth place in the 100-meter dash during Sunday's NHIAA D-I track championship at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Concord's Rebecca Maffah clears the hurdles in the 100 meter event during the NHIAA D-1 championship at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton on Sunday, June 1, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
HAMPTON – For the most part, track and field is an individual sport, but when you put together a lot of strong individual efforts, the results as a team are the sweetest. At least that was the case for the Concord High boys’ and girls’ track teams at yesterday’s Division I championships at Winnacunnet High School. Most of the athletes on both teams either met or exceeded their seeds, with the boys’ 4x100 relay, George Feliz, Smita Boesch-Dining, Megan Reese and Hana Knowles winning event titles to lead both squads to top-five finishes.
The girls tallied 71 points, good for fourth place, and were in the hunt for the championship for a while, finishing in a tightly packed top four that included champion Bedford (86), Londonderry (80.5) and Winnacunnet (73). Bishop Guertin (43) rounded out the top five. On the boys’ side, Pinkerton (100) – coached by Bow’s Michael Clark – won the championship, followed by Bedford (79), Nashua North (71), Exeter (59) and Concord (42) in the top five.
“They were all very tough today and a lot of them finished higher than they were seeded, so it was kind of the perfect day for them,” Concord girls’ Coach Jessica Boezeman said, while boys’ Coach Hayden Daly added, “it probably exceeded some of our goals.”
The biggest upset of the meet came from Knowles, a senior thrower who was seeded eighth in the discus but broke her own by personal-record by 11 feet with a toss of 108-6 to take the title.
“It’s like, unreal, I’m so excited and happy. I can’t wait for Meet of Champions next week,” said Knowles, who matched her seed in the shot put with a sixth-place finish. “I was kind of nervous. I was just trying to get into finals.”
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, better girl and athlete. That was the big upset of the day. That was huge,” Boezeman said.
That exceptional performance motivated her teammates to do the same. For example, Boesch-Dining. She had already run the anchor leg of the runner-up 4x800 relay (with Michaella Conery, Erin Waters and Cassie Shea) and finished second in the 1,600. She was sitting in seventh place one lap into the 800, but came from behind with a phenomenal final lap, passing Bishop Guertin’s Gabby Richardson just a few feet from the finish line to win the 800 in 2:22.85 in one of the most exciting races of the afternoon.
“Honestly, in the beginning I was like, ‘I am mentally tired, physically tired. I’m just going to go out there and try to hang with the leaders,’ ” Boesch-Dining sad. But she wasn’t about to give up.
“I always am there to support my teammates … so hearing them get first and succeeding in their events I was like, ‘I have to put in that effort to help Concord get points,’ ” the senior said, adding that, “I didn’t want to get second again.”
“That was amazing. She was already a little tired. She was going to do it, though. She’s a senior and she was going to get it,” her coach said.
Boesch-Dining also ran a tactical 1,600, finishing second in 5:12, behind Exeter’s Shannon Murdock (4:57), who also blew away the rest of the field in the 3,200. The runner-up 4x800 (9:37) finished less than 3.5 seconds behind record-breaking Bishop Guertin. Conery (third 1,600) and Shea (third 3,200) also scored in the distance events.
The other girls’ winner was Reese, who showed she earned her No. 1 seed, clearing 11 feet to win the pole vault.
“To win the division meet is absolutely amazing and a great way to end part of my senior year,” Reese said. “It was in my head, knowing that I was the first seed, and I’m glad that was I was able to prove myself and maintain that spot.”
Other scorers for the girls were Rebecca Massah, who finished second in the 100 hurdles after finishing third in the event last year and fourth in 2012, and Jessie Bean, who out-jumped her eighth seed, finishing fourth in the long jump.
“When we were in the running for first for a while I was very surprised and pleasantly surprised. I shouldn’t have been, because all of the girls are very tough this year and heavy competitors,” Boezeman said.
There weren’t as many surprises on the boys’ side. Daly knew he had a deep and experienced corps of sprinters on his squad and that experience would pay off.
“When you get to the finals, it’s a lot about experience and being there before,” he said.
Feliz, a senior and the two-time defending 110 hurdles champion and defending 300 hurdles champion, has been there many times before and used that to fuel his third straight 110 hurdles title run, winning the finals in 15.29 seconds. Feliz couldn’t successfully defend his 300 hurdles title, however, finishing second to Nick Masella of Merrimack.
“For the 110 I didn’t have any pressure … but in the 300 there was a lot of pressure … it is what is. I can’t complain. A second-place finish isn’t bad at all,” Felixz said.
But for Feliz, anchoring the 4x100 was the sweetest of his two victories, taking the baton from Marc Gaudet and chasing down Nashua North’s anchor leg to break the tape in a season-best 43.4 seconds.
“My thought was ‘go for it, get him, do not give up’ because my team expected that and I expected that, as well,” Feliz said. “I couldn’t let them down … I like my team. I love my team. All of us worked for that, all four of us.”
George’s brother Angel, who ran the first leg, giving his team the good start it needed, also said it was the sweetest of his many strong performances.
“I’m especially proud of our 4x100. We were graceful, I’d have to say,” said Angel, who qualified for Meet of Champions in his other events (top-five finishers automatically qualify) with a third-place finish in the long jump (half an inch behind the runner-up) and a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 100 and 200.
Leo Sudieh ran the second leg and Gaudet ran the third leg to round out the relay.
“We were just expecting to win. That was pretty much the only thing, we knew we had it in us,” Gaudet said.
While not as experienced as the sprinters and hurdlers, the young distance crew exceeded its own, and its coach’s expectations, with the 4x800 (Alex Saveliev, Matt Adams, Jamie Wilkes and Tris Patoine) out-performing its seed to finish ninth, and Saveliev out-running his 10th seed, finishing the 1,600 in eighth place, just 2.5 seconds out of scoring. First-year track athlete Diego Hebra tied for 13th in the high jump.
With the Division I meet complete, the Tide now looks to the Meet of Champions.
“We’re looking forward to next weekend and seeing what happens with another week of getting in better shape and getting technically sound with things like the long jump and handoffs,” Daly said.