New Lebanon Track Coach Looks to Continue Raiders’ Winning Ways
Hanover sophomore Nick Johnson competes in the long jump during Saturday’s track meet at Dartmouth’s Leverone Field House in Hanover.
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Kevin Lozeau, Lebanon High School's track coach, reviews the schedule of the meet with Martin Gradijan, left, a senior, and Raphael Harriman, a freshman, during a regional track meet at Dartmouth's Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 21, 2013.
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Justin Whitaker, of WIndsor, runs far ahead of the competition during the 1,000-meter run at the winter track meet at Dartmouth's Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H., on Dec. 21, 2013.
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Hanover — Hired by the NHIAA to direct Saturday’s Division II winter league meet, Andrew Gamble was in charge of calling all runners to the starting line at Leverone Field House. Yet for the first time in 17 seasons, Gamble is not calling the shots for Lebanon High.
Having toyed with the idea of retirement for several years, Gamble, 48, finally called it a day following last outdoor season after coaching both indoor and outdoor track since the 1997-98 winter season — racking up a combined 24 boys and girls state championships along the way.
Taking over for Gamble is Kevin Lozeau, a former Raider who spent the last seven years as their distance running coach. Recruited by Gamble to run for the Raiders as a sophomore, Lozeau went on to run four years of both cross country and track at St. Lawrence University.
Now, he takes over a program that always has high expectations, but has been rebuilding for the last several years after a number of graduation losses to elite contributors such as Dominic Filiano and Cathy Liebowitz — both of whom went on to compete for Dartmouth College.
When Lozeau ran for Gamble with the Raiders, it was before the team enjoyed the healthy number of assistants — six, including four volunteers — it has today.
“He wore a lot of hats, so I got to see the way he motivated kids and learned kind of the ins and outs (of coaching),” Lozeau said. “When I got to (St. Lawrence) and worked with coach John Newman, that’s when I started picking up on some of the more technical aspects of running.”
Especially for the Raiders’ distance runners, not much will change for Lebanon’s athletes with Lozeau at the helm.
“We never really worked very much with Gamble, it was mostly with Kevin,” said junior Josh Fontaine, who placed sixth in the 3,000 at last year’s D-II state meet and won that event Saturday. “Kevin has us do a lot of speed work, a lot of short stuff, and then we mix in some longer distance stuff. That’s how it was last year and that’s how it is this year, so we have that consistency.”
For Lozeau, though, there are more responsibilities, from making sure all athletes are registered for the correct events to monitoring eligibility and helping assistants with workouts. He may also need to work to match Gamble’s intense motivational skills.
“He’s much more of the kinder, gentler type, whereas I was much more intense,” Gamble said. “There’s a time and a place for both. Sometimes you have to have a little fire in the belly and sometimes you have to be kind and gentle. But right now, he’s just getting a grasp of all the other responsibilities because being a coach can have very little to do with working with the athletes. I worked with the sprinters and jumpers, but so much of what I did was paperwork and organizing.”
On paper, the Raider boys should be better this year after placing eighth at indoor states last winter. Fontaine, Teddy Bessette (fourth in the 1,500-meter run last season), Craig Telfair (fifth in 55 hurdles), and jumper/throwers John Cioffredi and Will Merchant return with heightened skills. Lebanon’s girls, meanwhile, have a promising freshman sprinter and hurdler in Corinne Kennedy and return Lauren Anikis (second in high jump at last year’s state meet), Natasha Goodwin (fifth in high jump) and Georgia Michalovic (seventh in high jump).
Hanover coach Mike Callanan is excited about his team’s chances to improve after the boys were 23rd last year. The entire third-place 4x200-meter relay team returns in Jack Lightbody, Xavier Tchana, Joe Porter and Tim Alibozek, and their season-high time of 1 minute, 37 seconds is two seconds faster than last year’s.
Hanover’s girls were third last year, but lost key contributors such as Aidan Bardos, Melanie Subbiah. Yet Marauders girls coach Chris Brown is enthused by an influx of underclassmen he feels gives the club a new solid footing.
“If we’re not top five at states this year, we will be next year,” Brown said.
On the Vermont side, Oxbow has a healthy stable of 26 athletes, by far the most in the Olympians’ four-year history. Oxbow’s boys lost former multi-sprint medalist Will Heathman, but return talented sprinter Brian Fay and have a freshman distance runner in Jon Puffer, who has already qualified in the state meet in the 1,000. The O’s girls will be led by distance runner Shelby Rosten and mid-distance specialists Nina Ninapalous and sisters Anna and Claire Cook.
Windsor’s numbers are down this season, with only 15 athletes, including three from Woodstock (the Wasps aren’t fielding an indoor program this year). The low turnout hasn’t fazed Windsor co-coach Dan Mead, who takes on every season with three simple rules in mind.
“I tell the kids all the time that our first priority is to be safe, the second is to have fun and the third is to progress. Right now, we’re doing all three, so we’re happy.”
Lebanon Boys, Girls Third
The Raider boys and girls placed third at Saturday’s meet, which featured schools from New Hampshire and Vermont.
Lebanon’s girls were led by freshman Corrine Kennedy, who won the 300 (42.04 seconds), placed second in the 55 hurdles (8.81) and ran the second leg of the Raiders’ runner-up 4x200 relay team (1:54.0).
Senior Georgia Michalovic ran the anchor on that relay team and was second in the long jump (15-9.75). Lauren Anikis was second in the high jump (4-10.0) for Lebanon.
Windsor sophomore Katey Comstock won the shot put with heave of 34-00.25, and Sharon’s Margaret Gish was sixth in the 1,500 in 5:37.17.
Lebaon’s boys got a boost from Will Merchant, who was second in the long jump (19-08.5) and fourth in the shot put (41-11), one spot behind teammate John Cioffredi (44-00).
Josh Fontaine won the 1,500 in 4:17.83, while Martin Gradijan was fourth in the 600 (1:28.0) and Kevin Power sixth in the high jump (5-04).
Sixth-place Hanover placed in both the 4x200 (second; 1:38.73) and 4x400 (sixth; 3:59.73) relays, while Carlo Keep was third in the high jump (5-06), Phil Caffry fourth in the 300 (38.32) and Joe Porter sixth in the 55 (6.98).
Thetford’s boys placed third in the 4x200 in 1:41.06, while the front leg of that group, Sam Emerson, was sixth in the high jump (5-04).
The Panthers’ Cole Chapman tied Hanover’s Keep for third in the high jump, and Chapman placed sixth in the long jump (18:08.25).
Kearsarge’s Shane Corley (third; 4:26.5) and Sharon’s Chris Gish (fifth; 4:28.22) placed close behind Fontaine in the 1,500.
Boys team scores: 1. Pinkerton 84; 2. Manchester Memorial 35; 3. Lebanon 21.33; 4. Mount Anthony 21; 5. Merrimack Valley 20; 6. Hanover 19.5; 7. Concord 18.33; 8. Monadnock 17; 9. Plymouth 15; 10. Thetford 12.83.
Girls team scores: 1. Bishop Guertin 61; 2. Mount Anthony 40.5; 3. Lebanon 31; 4-T. Pinkerton, Monadnock and Concord 29; 7. Merrimack Valley 19; 8. Oyster River 18; 9. St. Johnsbury 13; 10-T. Fall Mountain and Windsor 6.
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.