Hartford Sprinter Lowe Has Ivies in Sight

  • Hartford High School sprinter Abayomi Lowe, 17, of White River Junction, warms up during a practice at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Lowe has decided to attend Brown University where he intends to study mechanical engineering and try out for the track team as a walk-on. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School track coach Michael Perry, right, lays out a plan for practice for his sprinters Abayomi Lowe, 17, of White River Junction, middle, and Hunter Noyes, 17, of White River Junction, left, at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Abayomi Lowe, 17, of White River Junction, splits a pack of distance runners while running a 200 meter sprint during practice with the Hartford High School indoor track team at Leverone Field House in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. Lowe will attend Brown University in the fall of 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School sprinter Abayomi Lowe, 17, of White River Junction, said academics were his first concern when choosing Brown University, though he will try to join the track team as a walk-on. Lowe loosens his shoes after a practice at Leverone Field House in White River Junction, Vt., Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/30/2018 11:49:56 PM

Hanover — Mike Perry has been the head coach of Hartford High’s track and field teams — indoor and outdoor, boys and girls — for the last 26 years. Never has he seen a sprinter come through and make an impact like Abayomi Lowe.

Like a fine wine, Lowe’s career has gotten better with age. He has spent the past two weeks resetting his VPA Division II state record in the 55-meter dash; he ran it in 6.68 seconds during Saturday’s meet at the University of Vermont, one week after running a 6.69 at Dartmouth’s Leverone Field House. Lowe is also the top-seeded indoor 300-meter runner in the state (he ran a state-best in 37.52 seconds at UVM on Saturday), anchors two of Hartford’s relay teams and is the selfless leader who’s helped put Perry’s Hurricanes on the varsity map.

And if the first few weeks of Lowe’s senior indoor season are any indication, he’s also nowhere close to done. Lowe is headed to Brown University next year to study mechanical engineering; he said he will try to walk on to the Ivy League school’s track and field team. For now, he’s trying to finish his varsity career on a high note.

“(Vermont track) has meant a lot to me,” Lowe said during a practice at Dartmouth College’s Leverone Field House on Wednesday morning. “I’ve put a lot of work into it. I’ve taken away a lot of lessons from track, and I feel like I’ve had some successes. I’m just trying to complete my high school career and end it on a high note.”

Hartford’s boys are low on numbers this winter: Senior Hunter Noyes has developed into a nice complementary piece behind Lowe, and Aaron Mitchell is transitioning his strong cross country season into a distance-running piece for Perry. The Canes were third overall at states last season, their third straight season finishing in the D-II’s top five.

But Perry is sure Lowe’s leadership, both on the track and in practices, has helped turn the program into the consistent presence it is today.

“He’s brought track to the forefront,” Perry said. “Football, basketball, they all get their glory. But when you start talking state records … you get down there and consistently do this. Whenever we go to other meets, everybody knows who he is. He’s doing all these things, but he’s still humble. I love that in an athlete.

“The kids at school, I don’t know if they know how special he is. … He goes under (the radar), unless he’s breaking records and it gets reported. He just goes about his business.”

Lowe’s indoor dominance in the 55 has been in place since his sophomore season. He won the event at the 2017 D-II state meet in 6.72 seconds, 0.24 seconds ahead of Missisquoi junior Hunter Tardy. Lowe then squeaked out a win in his junior season in 6.73 seconds, 0.06 seconds ahead of Milton senior Carson Bianchi. He’s beaten both of those times early this winter.

In the hunt to get better, Lowe said he’s grown and matured. Running has always been a big part of his life, something that isn’t likely to change when he gets to Brown. But it’s the life lessons track has taught that stick with Lowe.

“I’ve learned a lot about balance,” he said. “I like to push a lot, to work really, really hard. From track, I’ve learned that if you work too hard all the time, it can actually be worse for you. I learned how to take care of my body, work hard when I need to, to compete but also get along with those I’m competing against. I’ve made a lot of friends in this sport, a lot of cool people.

“Focus, that’s the biggest thing I’ll take out of this. This really helped me to develop my focus. … I learned about myself. I know how I work, what works for me, what doesn’t work for me. If I have to get it done, I know how to get it done for myself.”

Lowe was drawn more to Brown’s academic offerings than its athletics. The athletic plan, at least for now, is to try and walk on when he gets there next fall.

“I really felt like I connected with their values,” he said. “Especially the open curriculum, that really connected to me.”

Lowe’s times are within collegiate range; Brown sophomore sprinter Phillip Batler finished last winter with the best 60-meter result of the indoor season, running a 6.90 in a meet against Dartmouth, Vermont and Maine in January. Hartford’s now-graduated female star, Ileana Sirois, is now competing with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute women’s track and field squad, the lastest Hartford grad to compete in college.

Perry is confident Lowe has what it takes to compete at the collegiate level.

“I think he’s the best sprinter that’s ever come through,” Perry said. “We’ve had some throwers in the past, but as far as sprinters go, he’s the best that Hartford’s ever had without a doubt.

“He’s been a godsend. I’d be lost without him.”

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




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