Well-rounded Tide looking to make noise on track
The words, when said by coaches, often amount to a critique, an honest evaluation of a team trying to find its rhythm. Coming from Hayden Daly, however, they meant high praise.
“We’re kind of all over the board,” he said.
The meaning was clear. The Concord High boys’ track and field team has spent the early part of the spring season showing it can get point anytime and anywhere, and its coach likes how that versatility translates going forward with the state meets looming a little less than a month away.
“We’ve got multiple kids that can win multiple events,” Daly said. “We’ve certainly had talent, but I don’t think I’ve been this spread out with talent.”
On the girls’ side, Coach Jessica Boezeman likewise sees a lot to like about her team – especially on the track, where Concord is a major player in the distance events.
“They’re very strong, I’d say they’re definitely the strongest part of the team right now,” she said. “I think they’re going to be the cornerstone for this season.”
The boys’ team had reason for optimism after the winter indoor season, which saw Concord finish third in the state meet despite having one of the smaller teams in the competition. The big names from that squad are back for outdoor, giving the Crimson Tide plenty of firepower throughout the roster. The biggest strength is in the sprints, where senior Tolbert Nemo and junior Walters Ndi are among the state’s best in the 100 and 200, and in the hurdles, where junior George Feliz is the defending state champion in the 110. Junior Marc Gaudet combines with Nemo, Ndi and Feliz to form a fearsome 4x100 combination, and freshman Leo Sudieh has already shown promise as one of the division’s best up-and-coming talents.
“I probably have four or five sprinters that are, really, pretty good,” Daly said. “(Their 4x100 times) rank them up in the top two in the whole state. … These guys are a pretty special group of kids.”
The sprints will continue to be where Concord looks to reap the points, but the Crimson Tide can score elsewhere. Senior B.J. Smith is an elite runner who was the indoor 3,000 champion and runs everything from the 400 to the 3,200, while junior Michael Alexander (3,200/1,600), junior Nate LaTourette (800), sophomore Pepper Smith (1,600) and freshmen Matt Adams (800/1,600) and Alexander Saveliev (1,600) lead a distance crew that’s built for both this year and the future.
In the field, Concord’s go-to athlete is senior Harry Gunn, who specializes in the triple jump but is also a top-tier discus and javelin thrower, while Ndi and Gaudet handle the load in the shot put.
Like the boys’ team, the Concord girls do their damage on the track, but the Tide has its strength in the distance events. Smita Boesch-Dining is a captain and serves as the team’s jack of all trades, as Boezeman said a goal has been to get the junior to increase her events load, which now includes the 400, 800 and 1,600, as well as the 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“Last year, she did that a couple of times, she’d get tired after her first event,” she said. “She’s really gotten a lot stronger this year.”
Boesch-Dining isn’t alone, as junior Sabrina Lawrence (800) and sophomore Erin Waters (3,200/800) are talented runners, and the Tide also has talented freshmen in Kate Andy (3,200) and Michaella Conery (1,600). The mix has already generated results, as Concord swept the distance events in just its second meet of the year.
“It sort of seems like that might be a typical thing to happen to us this season,” Boezeman said. “We already had a really solid distance team, and adding those freshmen just gave us extra depth.”
That’s not to say the Tide rolls over in the sprints and mid-distance events. Junior Rebecca Massah’s become a leading hurdler in both the 100 and 300, and classmate Skarlet Feliz has emerged as the team’s best in the 100 and 200. The relays are also strong, with Feliz, Massah, junior Megan Reese and freshman Meghan Hall handling the 4x100, seniors Amanda Schoenfeld and Hannah Orzechowski (who also runs hurdles and does the triple jump and high jump), Conery and Boesch-Dining running the 4x400 and Conery, Waters, Lawrence and Boesch-Dining doing the 4x800.
In the field, Concord has an ace pole vaulter in Reese, who broke the school record in the first meet of the year and is one of the state’s best, while junior Jessie Bean is Concord’s top long jumper. The Tide is lacking depth behind them; sophomore Hana Knowles has to carry the load in the throws, competing in the shot put, discus and javelin.
With both the boys’ and girls’ teams having strengths in a variety of places, the coaches are getting aggressive with their expectations as the Division I meet approaches. Boezeman eyes Meet of Champions and New Englands berths for Massah and Reese, and she has high hopes for the relays as well.
“I’d like to see our 4x400 and our 4x800 be in the top three rankings for the meet,” she said. “They definitely can, they have so much potential, and it really looks like it could be their year.”
Daly knows the Concord boys are also ready to compete. In some years, the goals are modest. Improvement’s the key. But this year, Daly knows the Tide should be a team to beat.
“We want to be top three,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of top-end talent to be there. There’s plenty of kids that can win events. … I would be disappointed if we were out of the top five.”
(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @dbonifant.)