CHESHIRE, Conn. – The 28th New England H.S. Track and Field Championships will be held at the Reggie Lewis Track Center, Roxbury, MA, on Friday afternoon, February 27th beginning at 4:30 p.m. with field events. The running events begin at 5:00 p.m. The meet brings together the top six athletes from each of the six New England states high school indoor championships. With the USA Championships returning to Reggie on Saturday and Sunday this could almost be called “The NE HS Nationals.”
This year only four defending champions return to compete. Three of the four are from Massachusetts. Sierra Irvin (Hingham HS) will seek to defend her 300 meter title. Everest Crawford (Gloucester HS) will be defending his 1,000 meter title. Joe Luongo (St. John’s Prep-Danvers) will be defending his 600 meter title. Luongo is ranked in the top five in the 600 nationally and has not lost a 600 in state in the last two years.
The returning champion that should impress the crowd again will be Hannah DeBalsi, the junior from Staples (CT). Hannah won the two mile from the unseeded section as a freshman. She won by 40 seconds last year as she ran 10:12.95. This year at the Conn Class “L” meet she won the 3200 and was second in the 1600 to pace her team to its first state title. Lest we forget, this past fall she placed a strong second in the National Foot Locker Cross Country Meet in California.
In the boys two mile Alex Ostberg (Darien CT) and Eric Van der Els (Brian McMahon-CT) are within a shoe length of each other and they promise to dual hard on the track.
The other highest returning placers are Amy Piccolo (Ursuline Acad.-Dedham, MA) in the 600 meters and Anika Hibbard (Bedford, NH) in the High Jump.
The meet always brings out truly outstanding competition. It will begin right away with the 4×800 meter relay. In the girls Lincoln-Sudbury (MA) 9:22.89 and Lexington (MA) 9:26.95 are just ahead of Glastonbury (CT) 9:27.61. The boys from Amherst-Pelham Reg. HS (MA) are the fastest team by five seconds. They have run 7:58.86.
The girl’s 4×200, one of the best teams in the country, Hope HS-Providence (RI) ran 1:43.60 winning the RI meet. Hope set the NE best ever in 2012. In the boys Weston (CT) 1:30.33 leads state rival Windsor (CT) 1:31.28, with Mass Champ Andover close in 1:31.52.
In the sprint events promises very close races. In the girls Hurdles Isabella DiMare (N.D.-Hingham, MA) and Gabby Curtis (Wilbur Cross-New Haven CT) have the fastest time of 8.44. The boys Hurdle leader is Nathan Narcisse (Classical, RI) with 7.54 just ahead of Sebastian Silveria (Andover, MA) with 7.57. In the girl’s dash: Kate Hall (Lake Region-ME) has run 7.05 and will face a tough test from Quashira McIntosh (Hope-RI) and Brianna Duncan (Cambridge R&L-MA). Jonathan Derolus (Brockton-MA) placed fourth last year and will be hard pressed by Stanly Little (Kennedy-Westport, CT) and Akiel Smith (Hillhouse-New Haven, CT).
In the girls mile defender Danae Rivers (Wilbur Cross-CT) has chosen to run the 1000, so that leaves the Mass duo of Kaleigh Hughes (Needham-MA) 4:56.35 and Kaley Richards (Lowell-MA) 5:56.78 as the top runners. Richards was runner-up last year. The person to watch in the boy’s mile is not the top person Tom D’Anieri (Wellesley, MA), but Jack Salisbury, a junior at LaSalle Academy (RI). Salisbury ran with his teammates in the RI 1500 and is listed 11th at 4:24.26. However, earlier this season Jack ran a near dead heat in the interscholastic mile at the New Balance Boston Indoor Games when he placed second in 4:08.76. The winner was 4:08.75. It will be interesting to see if he will run a leg on the LaSalle’s 4×800 relay in the meet’s first event.
Girls 300 champ Sierra Irvin (Hingham-MA) got upset by Chelsea Owusu (Wachusett Reg.-MA) 40.01 last week, but they will both have to watch Sashana Hinds (Windsor-CT) who ran 40.03 to win the CT State Meet. Simeon Okoro (Weston-CT) 34.89 is the only boy under 35, but will be pressed by Woburn (MA) Chris Jewett who ran 35.02.
The girls 1000 could be the strongest race of the night. New Hampshire runners Maegan Doody (Oyster River) and Hannah Parker (Coe-Brown) battled running 2:49.08 and 2:49.24, respectfully, on the 10 lap to-a-mile Sweet Oval at UNH. Doody also won the NH 1500 title the same meet. Mass Ariel Keklak (Lincoln-Sudbury-MA) ran 2:51.17 at Reggie, while Danae Rivers (Wilbur Cross-N.Haven, CT), the NE defending mile champ opted for the 1000 race. She is seeded seventh. Peter Garmon (Billerica-MA) is the athlete to watch in the boys 1000. Garmon, the Mass 1000 champ won easily after running the mile. He also placed in the New Balance Boston Indoor Games Interscholastic Mile running 4:14.08. Everest Crawford (Gloucester-MA) is the defender and is seeded 6th.
The girls High Jump should be interesting. The best N.E. jump this season belongs to Danae Bucci (Bedford-MA) at 5’08” winning her State Meet. Not to be confused – Bedford (NH) twins Anika and Letti Hibbard both jumped
5’06” this season. Anika was second last year. Maria Garmon (Scituate-MA) has also cleared 5’06”. Kevin Hack (Nipmuc Reg-Mendon, MA) has jumped 6’08” just an inch ahead of Starlin Oritz (Londonderry NH).
In the Girls Long Jump 55m leader Kate Hall (Lake Region-ME) jumped 19’06.5” in the Maine Meet. Mass champion Brianna Duncan (Cambridge-MA) is 2nd at 18’ 08.5”. Anthony Bravo (Staples-CT) 22’10.75” is just ahead of the Conn. runner-up Brandon Sabastian (West Haven) 22’08.25”
In the Girls Shot Put Alva Hicks (Classical-RI) who was fourth last year has the best throw at 41’00.5”. Evan Adams (Norwalk-CT) has the best throw in the boys at 56’ 03.5” and could be pressed by Fitchburg (MA) Leonardo Ramirez 55’09.5” who is undefeated this season.
The last event in the program, the 4×400 relay always excites everyone in the building. The best girls team listed is Lexington (MA) at 4:00.49 followed by Wilbur Cross (New Haven, CT) at 4:01.63. The always-dangerous Hope (RI) is sitting fourth at 4:03.39. The boys defending champions Amherst-Pelham Reg (MA) is listed fourth in 3:25.94. Natick (MA) is the fastest at 4:23.83.
The twentieth-eighth New England High School Championships promises to be a great meet. It will be streamed live and available on demand from the NFHS Network at www.nfhsnetwork.com.