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Hanover jumps for joy, captures first state crown since 2015

  • Hanover's Sophie Mitchell.

  • Hanover's Sabin Mitchell.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, February 14, 2019

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Hanover High’s ski jumping team had too much depth to handle, helping the Marauders win their first state title since 2015 at the the NHIAA ski jumping championship meet at Plymouth Regional High School on Thursday night.

Hanover junior Sabin Mitchell won her second consecutive girls individual title, followed by her twin sister, Sophie, by a point in the standings. Hanover’s boys occupied three of the top five spots, led by senior Mason Winter in second overall. Felix Estes was named the boys skimeister, finishing fifth overall. Caleb Morse, a Hanover junior, also won the Gene Ross Award for the state’s rookie of the year.

Not a bad haul for the Marauders, who had fallen short of two-time defending champion Kennett twice in the last two seasons.

“It’s exciting,” said Hanover’s eighth-year head coach, Tom Dodds. “It’s funny: When you’re out on the hill, it seems a lot closer than it ultimately ended up. … Plymouth really stepped it up for this meet, and Sunapee also did as well. It ended up closer than a lot of the meets all season.”

Sunapee finished second overall in the boys team standings with 364 points, edging out the logjam of teams — Kennett with 361, Plymouth with 363 — behind Hanover by three points. Cam Summerton led the Lakers in fourth overall. Silvia Dalton, in her first season ski jumping, finished third overall in the girls standings behind Hanover’s Mitchell sisters.

“I’m really proud of this team. I think everybody dug deep and jumped very well,” Dodds said. “So did other teams, though. That’s what surprised me. The girls competition was really close.

“That’s the thing that was most impressive about this team, just the depth,” he added. “There could have been any of nine athletes on a six-person team, any of those nine athletes could potentially, on any given night, score for us.”

Four different boys — Winter, Summerton, Plymouth’s Cameron Donnell and Kennett’s Zach Grzesik — flirted with breaking the hill record, all hitting an event-high 24 meters. The jump record at Plymouth was set by Sunapee’s Will Austin at 25 meters two years ago.

Grzesik won the boys title, amassing 107 points with jumps of 24 and 23.5 meters. Mason finished 1.5 points behind at 105.5 with two jumps at 24 meters.

Evan Nichols, a freshman jumper for the Marauders with an extensive resume of international ski jumping, finished tied for third place with Sunapee’s Summerton, finishing his day with three jumps of 23.5 meters.

Nichols won a USA Cup Nordic combined competition at Lake Placid in January, finishing second in the jumping portion. Summerton’s top jump at 24 meters was first of the night. But style points hurt him in the opening jump after he landed on his back.

“(Summerton) was solid, I think he expected a little bit more, but he was solid tonight,” Sunapee co-coach Dave Smith said. “The first one got in his head a little bit. After that, he had two nice jumps.”

Sabin Mitchell won the girls’ individual title with 91.5 points; Sophie Mitchell finished with 90.5 points. Sunapee’s Dalton led the Lakers with two jumps of 20 meters and 89 points for third place.

“We’ve been battling second and third back and forth throughout the year,” Smith said. “(Hanover) has a lot of kids. I’ve got these six kids. They’ve got 16. They’ve got a lot of depth.”

Lebanon’s Ayla Weale, the only Raider competing, took sixth overall with a day-high 18 meters and 85.5 overall points.

Hanover remains deep and talented for next season, returning some of its top jumpers for their senior season. The last time they won a ski jumping title was a multi-year run, winning three-straight championships from 2013-15. Sabin and Sophie Mitchell are back, plus Nichols, Estes and Tristan Meyer — who finished seventh overall. Winter and Dina Hertog-Raz, who took ninth place, graduate in the offseason.

“I think we’re bringing back a very strong squad,” Dodds said. “I think we’ll continue to grow.”

Team Scores: Hanover 386.5, Sunapee 364, Plymouth 363, Kennett 361, Concord 331.5, Lebanon 83, Merrimack Valley 80.

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