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Not Run Down: Athletes Adjust at Dartmouth Relays

  • Hartford sprinter Abayomi Lowe, right competes in the 55- meter dash with Brandon Hanley of Winnacunnet and Tim Marx of Pembroke at the Dartmouth Relays in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's distance runner Grace Furlong waits for her race at the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 6, 2017 in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover runner Kyle Doucette, finishes the 55-meter dash with Gorham's David Drew, left, and Concord's Dalton Mutz at the Dartmouth Relays in Hanover, N.H. on Jan. 6, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Kath Merchant competes in the weight throw at the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 6, 2017 in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Runners Morgan Lavoy from Thetford Academy, left, Kennedy Mullen, from Hartford High School and Ella Maclean from Hanover High School wait to receive their lane assignments for the 300 during the Dartmouth Relays in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 6, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford's Ileana Sirois hugs her coach Mike Perry after running the 55-meter hurdles at the Dartmouth Relays at Dartmouth, N.H., on Jan 6, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, January 06, 2018

Hanover — Lebanon High senior distance runner Grace Furlong was nervous before her two-mile run on Friday, the first day of the 49th Dartmouth Relays at Leverone Field House. It’s a race she hadn’t run at the Relays before; an expansive indoor track, against regional competition, in a college setting like Leverone can be intimidating.

But Furlong liked the challenge, admitting she’s drawn to the strategy of distance running since she picked up track three years ago as a freshman at Hartford High. She finished her two-mile race in 12 minutes, 16.08 seconds, good enough for 10th out of 30 runners.

It’s the kind of mentality Furlong plans on taking to the next level after committing to Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio.

“The coach actually contacted me through an app that I have called NCSA (Next College Student Athlete),” Furlong said on Saturday. “They were telling me about their school; the coach called me and talked to me. I was really interested. I wasn’t really looking at other colleges. I didn’t think other colleges would be interested in me. They called and said, ‘We can give you a good offer.’ So I took the offer.”

Furlong transferred to Lebanon when her mom moved to the city after her sophomore year. Both she and Kevin Lozeau, Lebanon’s track coach, admitted the adjustment from Vermont’s smaller population to a larger one across the river was tough for the endurance specialist to get used to. She was on Lebanon’s 4x400 relay team in last year’s D-II indoor championship meet and took ninth (12:01.53 minutes) in the two-mile race at the D-II outdoor championship in the spring.

“She came in as our top girl, which was great,” Lozeau said. “I wonder how much she was getting challenged before. Obviously, it got a lot more competitive when she came over here to New Hampshire. It took her about a year to start figuring things out. But this is my second full year with her. Cross country, she had a great season. She’s already picking up where she left off.

“I have a good problem with her where, I kind of have to dial her back. She wants to be to gung-ho sometimes,” he added. “I’d rather have to fight to slow someone down than to get them going.”

Furlong didn’t expect to get college offers and was surprised when Notre Dame College, an NCAA Division II school, came calling. She asked around about college track and heard back how much work goes into it. Now that she’s found her landing spot, Furlong has the rest of the school year to prepare herself for what’s to come.

“I’ve asked some of my old friends about running in college; they said it’s a lot harder than high school. It’s a lot more work,” Furlong said. “I’m up for the challenge. … I think it’s going to start happening in the spring, where I’ll start to realize what I’m going to have to do. Right now, I have no idea what it’s going to be like.”

Hartford’s Abayomi Lowe could have easily been out of gas by the time the boys 55-meter finals began. It was his already his fourth race of the morning, about 30 minutes after a lengthy 300 meters for the short-yardage specialist.

If he was fatigued, it didn’t show. Lowe, the Canes headband-wearing sprinter, took sixth in the 55 final as the only Green Mountain state representative, crossing the finish line in 6.74 seconds — .22 seconds behind the winner, Jake Flaker from Scarborough (Maine).

He also showed his endurance range by taking seventh out of 71 runners in the 300, winning his heat in 36.96.

“I expected it to be harder,” Lowe said of the short rest time between the 300 and the 55 final. “But I’ve been doing a lot of endurance training and a lot of strength training. I think I was OK once I survived the (prelim and semifinal) rounds. It wasn’t as bad as I expected.

“It was pretty good. Everything went pretty well,” he added. “I just wanted to come and do the best that I could today.”

It’s a big year for Lowe, who has his eyes set on running in college, and Saturday’s results were a good start. Lowe missed the 55 meter finals by 0.02 seconds at last year’s Relays and settled for 10th in the 300. He has shaved nearly a half-second off his 300 time in 12 months.

But the junior said his focus is on his times and his immediate goals, not the attention of scouts.

“It’s pretty important, not so much for college, but just to give me a chance to show what I can do,” Lowe said. “Just to get a chance to compete against some of the best athletes in the country. I was looking forward to today, just to get a chance to compete against these guys.”

Mike Perry, Hartford’s coach, said training the speedster is a mental challenge rather than a physical one. But his perfectionist attitude, Perry said, is what makes Lowe such a competitor and his boys team dangerous in Vermont Principals Association Division II competition.

“Sometimes Abby is his worst enemy,” Perry said with a smile on Friday. “He tries so hard to dissect everything and make it perfect. I told him, ‘You’re never going to be perfect. No one is.’

“But (in Vermont) he’s seeded first in the 55, first in the 300, and the 4x400 team is going to be very competitive for indoors. But Riley (Kehoe) and Callum (Brittain), these guys are all seeing this and they’ve stepped up their game. That’s the thing about Abby, and Ileana (Sirois) on the girls side, they bring the best out of everybody.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.