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Emotions Run Gamut for Locals at States

  • Lebanon High School senior Marcus Roper takes a throw during the finals for the boys shot put event during the NHIAA Division II track and field championship meet on Feb. 4, 2018, at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H. The winning throw landed 49 feet, 0.75 inches away. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover junior Juan Bautista-Gallino takes off running at the start of the 300m dash event during the NHIAA Division II track and field championship meet on Feb. 4, 2018, at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H. Hanover’s boys finished the day in eighth place out of 20 competing teams.(Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • People in the stands watch as runners compete in the girls 3,000m run event during the NHIAA Division II track and field championship meet on Feb. 4, 2018, at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H. (Valley News - Carly Geraci) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Monday, February 05, 2018

Hanover — Hanover High sophomore sprinter Kyle Doucette looked back at the bright green display and frowned.

It wasn’t the start he had wanted, precious tenths of a second added to his 55-meter dash time during Sunday morning’s NHIAA Division II track and field championship meet at Dartmouth College’s Leverone Field House. A late burst near the finish line wasn’t enough either, pushing the top-seeded Marauder back into third place behind a pair of Windham upperclassmen, who took the top two spots separated by 0.006 seconds.

Windham senior Donovan Hopkins won the race in 6.732 seconds, teammate Matthew Garafino followed right behind, and the Jaguars went on to claim the D-II boys team title. Souhegan edged rival Milford for the girls championship.

“I don’t really know,” said Doucette, who matched his 6.76-second qualifying time in the 55 final. “It was a really tight race with a lot of great atheltes. We were all neck-and-neck. I just didn’t have the perfect start, didn’t have the perfect finish. … It’s definitely frustrating.”

The race was Doucette’s first indoor 55 state final of his varsity career; he competed on Hanover’s boys 4x400 relay team as a freshman last winter, helping the squad take fifth. Still, Doucette’s emergence as one of the fastest sprinters in the state has been rapid and full of adjustments.

The D-II championship meet still felt like uncharted territory for the underclassman.

“It’s definitely tough to adjust to,” Doucette said of the bigger stage. “I’m just hoping I can be back next year. I always to try to do better and improve.”

Hanover assistant coach Patrick Kelly was still impressed by Doucette’s performance, though he admitted outside distractions — a false start by race officials, a prolonged wait in between races when the program fell behind schedule — also factored in the end result.

“I think the false start, with the gun misfiring, he’s never had that situation before,” said Kelly, filling in for Hanover head coach Steve McConnell, who was at a wedding in California. “It’s all growing pains. Stuff like this, in a meet this size, the only thing that can help is experience of doing it. … He ran a PR (personal record); he ran his best. I just think the other kids were a little bit more seasoned.”

Marcus Roper’s first throw in the boys shot put final was the one he had been looking for, letting a loud roar as he launched the 12-pound weight from his shoulder into the air. The toss landed 49 feet, 0.75 inches away.

It was the best throw of the day, and Roper knew it, too, clapping his hands and screaming in celebration. The toss held up through the final to give Roper, the Lebanon High senior and future Plymouth State University thrower, his first indoor shot put victory.

“That was pretty good, only a couple of inches off of what my season best was,” Roper said, who qualified for the state final with a 50-1.75 throw. “It feels good. I liked it.”

Roper’s throw beat Milford’s Michael Boucher by less than three feet. Boucher was the only other thrower to crack about 46 feet.

“In the prelims, I was kind of tense,” Roper admitted. “I didn’t really know what to expect from the other guys.”

Newport’s Peter Thibault, seeded second, fell to fifth place in the shot put and seemed to have a tough time cracking 40 feet. His best was a throw of 42 feet, 6 inches, more than three feet short of the PR he threw at a University of New Hampshire meet two weeks previously.

Windham’s James Williams (45-5.25) and Ryan Murray (44-5) rounded out the top five.

Hanover’s boys finished the day in eighth place out of 20 competing teams, thanks in large part to solid performances from Doucette and an intelligent race by junior middle-distance runner Colm Seigne in the boys 600.

“That 600 race was the best race of the day, bar none,” Kelly said.

Seigne, the first seed, won in 1:25.31, edging out Portsmouth junior Ryan Prinz by a 0.51 seconds for the best time of his career. Prinz was the sixth seed headed into Sunday, but he gave Seigne a fight down the stretch. It took smarts, Kelly said, to win.

“If Colm had let (Prinz) pass him on any of the straightaways, Colm would have lost that race,” he said. “The momentum it takes to get around somebody on a corner, it’s magnified. With Colm putting bursts of speed on him on all the straightaways just to keep the kid off, it made that kid fight that much harder on the corners.

“That shows guts,” Kelly added. “Once you get passed the 400, it’s a thinking man’s race. … That 600 race was a true battle.”

Seigne also anchored Hanover’s 4x400 relay team, teaming up with Doucette, Liam Collins and Juan Bautista Gallino for a fifth-place finish (3:42.01) out of 15 competing teams. Deveon Martin and Gallino took ninth and 10th, respectively, in the boys 300. Hanover’s 4x200 relay team — Sam Pych, Taigue Fullerton-Meaney, Liam Collins and A.J. Ristino — placed 12th out of 16 teams.

Lebanon’s girls took seventh place, paced by Raiders senior and shot put favorite Kath Merchant. She won with a throw of 40-11.25, nearly three feet better than St. Thomas’ Mady Buchalski. Lebanon sophomore Claudia Simione made a surprising fourth-place finish in the girls 55 (7.67).

Hanover’s girls were 12th out of 22 squads, led by its relay teams. Zoe Onyango, Jasmine Lou, Peiper Thomas and Ella Maclean placed fourth (1:53.00) in the 4x200, Chrstine Aman, Eloise Davis, Anna Stafford and Wylie Lucas took sixth (4:24.53) in the 4x400. Aman, a sophomore, also was sixth (1:46.61) in the 600, and freshman Maclean was fifth (43.88) in the 300.

Lebanon’s boys placed 13th, led by Roper’s shot put win.

Manchester West junior Julia Robitaille had quite the afternoon. First, she set a new NHIAA D-II state record in her girls 3,000, finishing her race in 9:58.10. She then won the girls 600 in 1:38.64 and took second in the girls 1,500 at 4:42.93.

The previous D-II record was held by Hanover distance specialist Georgia Griffin, who set the divisional mark of 10:00.89 in 2008.

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