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Winter track season kicks off Friday

  • Greenfield's Tyssen LaBombard, seen during the fall cross country season, will be a top distance runner for the Green Wave during the winter track season. RECORDER file photo

  • Mohawk’s Seth Hoynoski returns to lead the Mohawk boys’ team and will be one of the top scorers on his team this winter. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

  • Mahar’s Anna Weatherbee is a strong jumper for the Senators and will also be the top 600 meter runner on the team. RECORDER File Photo

  • Mohawk junior Gabby Shean will be one of the top shot putters in the area this winter. RECORDER file photo



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

With plenty of returning stars back in the fold, the local indoor track schools should figure prominently into the postseason discussion this winter. The PVIAC season gets underway Friday at Smith College, and the five local schools begin a busy season that occupies just about every Friday evening through February. Once again this season, each meet will be divided into an early session and a late session.

The Athol High School boys’ team should be in the mix in the Valley South, as the Red Raiders return several key members from last year’s team that had the best finish of any local squad at the PVIAC Championship.

Mahar Regional School and Mohawk Trail Regional High School will battle in the Valley North on both the boys’ and girls’ sides with plenty of talent and strong numbers.

In addition to Athol, Greenfield High School and Pioneer Valley Regional School compete in the South and both schools have solid numbers on their rosters this season.

The PVIAC Championship is set for Feb. 9 at Smith College.

Here’s a closer look at the teams as they prepare to open the 2017-18 campaign:

Athol

Junior Mason Barrieau paces the Red Raiders after a standout sophomore campaign that saw him finish fourth a year ago in the 600 meters at the MIAA Div. V State championship. Barrieau was a WMass champion in the 400 hurdles during the outdoor season, and he’ll again be a top point-scorer for Athol throughout the indoor season.

While Barrieau is certainly one to watch for the Raiders this winter, senior Kris Selanis (throws) returns to the fray after a dominant junior season indoors. Selanis is the defending WMass indoor shot put champion, and he won the event at every meet during the regular-season. Selanis wound up an impressive fourth overall at the Div. V state meet.

Junior Dennis St. Jean (distance) was a top 15 finisher at last year’s WMass indoor meet in the 1,000 meter, and senior Chase Michaud (sprints, middle distance) also nabbed a top 15 spot in the 600 meters a year ago at WMass.

Big things are expected from seniors James Laford (high jump, sprints) and Gabe Roberts (middle distance, jumps), while junior William Roraback (middle distance, hurdles) and senior Sean Fisher (sprints) are candidates for solid seasons as newcomers.

“This team should be in the mix for a league championship,” offered Athol coach Dennis St. Jean.

Seniors Hudson Carlson (high jump, distance), Daryl Chapalonis (mid-distance) and Noah Giuffre (throws) are all on the squad, while juniors Anthony Oro (mid-distance), Zachary Fish (mid-distance, jumps), Joseph England (mid-distance, jumps) and Carter Cochran (mid-distance), freshmen Cole Michaud (sprints, mid-distance) and Darwin Torres (mid-distance, distance), and eighth-grader Robert Wright-Day (hurdles, mid-distance) round out the Athol roster.

• The girls’ team should be paced by senior Crista Jillson (sprints, jumps) and sophomore Grace Dufour (mid-distance, jumps), both returning WMass qualifiers.

Senior Mercedez Young (mid-distance, distance) is a returning captain for the Raiders, and she should be a top contributor in the distance events.

Junior Shelby Mailloux is another key piece to the puzzle, and she qualified for the WMass meet in the mid-distance events a year ago.

There’s talent to keep an eye on in the younger ranks for the Raiders, as freshman Emily England (long jump, sprints) and eighth-grader Sadey Lehtomaki (long jump, sprints, mid-distance) have high ceilings, according to Coach St. Jean.

Seniors Haylie Baker (throws), Isabel Rivera (hurdles, sprints), Savannah Smart (throws, sprints) and Erin Willard (high jump, sprints) are all on the roster for Athol. Juniors Ruth Carey (mid-distance, jumps) and Analyse Merlini (throws, sprints) and freshman Madelyn Robertson (throws, sprints) will all look to contribute.

Greenfield

Several key returning runners look to lead Greenfield on the boys’ side this winter, as the team boasts a heaping number of underclassmen under head coach Stu Elliott.

“The team is young and largely untested,” explained Elliott.

Juniors Tyssen LaBombard and Dylan Badillo return as top distance runners, and both are coming off solid fall seasons on the cross country team.

Senior Liam McLain will key the sprinting core along with sophomores Crescens Iavorschi (sprints/jumps).

Juniors Aaron Do (middle distance) and Elijah Stathis (distance) are on the roster, as are sophomores Kevin Chen (throws), Jake Cote (throws), Israel Gallardo (sprints/jumps), Dylan Roy (distance) and Alex Tirrell (distance).

There’s a large number of underclassmen looking to make their mark, as freshmen Marco Balan (distance) and Emanuil Rahubenco (sprints) are joined by eighth-graders Erick Badillo (distance), Keegan Doty-Smith (mid-distance), Trevor Gibb (sprints), Taha Hamayun (middle distance), Gianni Passiglia (distance), Theo Popusoi (hurdles/jumps), Oni Rahubenco (sprints) and Emanuel Rosca (hurdles/jumps).

• The girls’ team is bolstered by a good portion of the cross country team, which won a league title for the first time in program history this fall.

Greenfield has a new coach on the girls’ side this winter in Jennifer Koonz, who is excited about the numbers and talent she inherits.

“We have lots of hard-working, motivated kids who I believe will really excel and improve this winter,” Koonz said.

Senior Amy O’Sullivan is a top distance runner who should be a key scorer in those disciplines this winter. She is coming off a fourth-place finish at the WMass cross country championship meet this fall. Classmates Jamie Day and Courtney Danielsen also had strong cross country seasons and should make their mark during the indoor season. Day will compete in the 2-mile, while Danielsen will run mid-distance and hurdles.

Juniors Lexxie Rowell and Morghan Blanchard are the lone members of their class, while sophomores Kacia Kinsmith, Dina Samake and Mariam Brenes Obando are also on the squad. Samake will be someone to watch in the shot put, while Kinsmith will compete in the mid-distance events.

The freshman class is comprised of Kylah Coke, Johanna Guiod, Eva Heath and Shane Subeldia, while eighth-graders Alexis Antonellis, Phoebe Broussard, Kaitlin Lavoine, Kandice Lu, Emmaline Thurston, Hannah Marchefka, Grace Mclain, Genessee Roy, and Allison Wiles round out the roster. Thurston and Marchefka are already promising runners in the mid-distance events.

Mahar

An outstanding senior class paces the Senators on the boys’ side this winter, as Mahar boasts nine members of that class, including several with championship meet experience from a year ago.

Senior Aaron Hendry leads that contingent after a big junior indoor season where he finished seventh overall in the 300 meters at the MIAA Division V State Indoor Track & Field Championships. Hendry was one of just two athletes, along with Barrieau of Athol, to qualify for multiple events in the state meet on the boys’ side a year ago.

Fellow senior Ash Shaw also competed in the state meet a year ago, where he took 15th in the 600 meters.

The deep senior class also features Sebastian Shaw, who will compete in the distance runs and jumps, along with Hugo Frost (multiple events) and Aidan DiDonato (distance).

Senior Nick Sharp is new to the indoor team but certainly no stranger to success. Sharp won the WMass Div. II championship in the shot put during the outdoor season, and he should immediately contribute in the throws this winter.

Seniors Tyreece Younger (throws), Jamie Teele (sprints, jumps) and Sean Doyle (throws) round out the Class of 2018.

Sophomore Thor Mead is a top underclassman and will be one of the team’s best distance runners.

Junior Brendon Arsenault (sprints/jumps), sophomores Kris Stroup (distance) and Noel Abreau (throws), freshmen Camdyn Johnson and Alex Currier (sprints/jumps), eighth-graders Owen Ryan (distance) and Liam O’Donnell (distance), and seventh-graders Shea Savage, Aqib Khan, Cameron Doyle, Liam DiDonato, Camden Bashaw and Blake Adams round out the sizable roster.

• On the girls’ side, the Senators skew much younger for the second year in a row, as just two seniors are on the squad after the team had none a season ago.

The good news is that the junior class has plenty of experience, with Anna Wetherbee, Emma Currier and Marie Nottleson all back. Currier was solid in the mile and 1,000 meters a year ago, while Wetherbee was her team’s top 600-meter runner. Nottleson (hurdles/jumps) is another capable multi-event scorer.

Sophomore Kamryn Reilly returns after a stellar freshman season both indoor and outdoor, and she’ll be a multiple-event scorer as one of the team’s top athletes in the sprints and jumps.

The rest of the Senators roster is very young, with 17 of the 28 members hailing from the freshman class and below.

Seniors Shey-Anne Gadwah Alonso (distance) and Mayte Torres (throws) are the only members of their class on the roster, while juniors Jordyn Berry (hurdles/jumps) and Katie Galvin (sprints/jumps) both return. Junior Chloe Taddeo is new to the squad and will be a thrower for the Senators.

Sophomores Charlotte Torres (throws) and Natalie Lyman (throws) both return.

The freshman class is comprised of Keauna Thompson (distance), Shey Rodriguez-Rivera, Brooke Jenks (distance), Aileen Fitzgerald (distance/jumps) and Mattie Budine (throws). Eighth-grader Emma Savoy (distance) is a key returnee, while the rest of the class is made up of Sophia Whitman (sprints), Jasmyne Sayarath, Grace Rich (distance), Kaitlyn Murray, Gracie Fournier, Hannah Dziedzic (distance), Mackinley Drew (sprints/jumps) and Caroline Chase (distance/jumps).

Seventh-graders Aliyah Santana, Aviana Bouchard and Astha Bernard are all new to the squad.

Mohawk

Just eight athletes are on the roster for the Mohawk boys’ team this winter, but the Warriors still have plenty of talent under head coach Shawn Billings.

“Having low numbers indoors really doesn’t hurt you as much as it does outdoors,” explained Billings. “Every kid can still do four events. We’re still going to be Mohawk. We’re still going to come to the table every meet looking like we want to win it. But I’m a realist. I know I only have eight kids and three of them are middle schoolers, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Senior Seth Hoynoski headlines the Mohawk roster, and while he’s coming off an injury from football season that will force him to ease into the indoor season, expect the talented runner to be a big scorer in just about every event at some point.

Ben Werner is the other senior for the Warriors, and he’ll be focused on the sprints and relays this winter. Junior London Summers and sophomore Aidan Duncan are both penciled into sprinting events.

Freshman Cullen Brown has postseason aspirations in the 600 meters, and he’s also the team’s best hurdler who will be a factor in the jumps.

Eighth-grader Dennis Simmons is fresh off a breakout cross country season and will serve as Mohawk’s top distance runner this winter in the mile and 2-mile.

“He’s going to score a lot of points this year,” said Billings of Simmons.

Eighth-grader Connor Bailey (1,000 meters) and seventh-grader Jesse Dubreuil (600) round out the roster for Mohawk.

“We’ve always treated indoor as training for outdoor, whether it be track or baseball or the next season of football,” explained Billings. “My track season, indoor, is a great training facility for Mohawk athletes in general.”

• The Mohawk girls’ team was the top local finisher at last year’s PVIAC Championship, taking 13th overall there.

Junior Meghan Davis is fresh off an outstanding cross country season where she was the top WMass finisher in the MIAA Div. II state meet thanks to a ninth-place performance.

Davis will be an anchor for Mohawk yet again in the distance events on the indoor scene, namely the 1,000 meter, mile and 2-mile.

Classmate Lily Wickland-Shearer should be another top scorer for the Warriors in the hurdles and sprints, while fellow junior Shelby Sinistore is a speedster who could be a top sprinter as well.

Eighth-graders Erica Szewczyk, Riley Hayward and Caitlin Upton all ran well in cross country and will likely see entry in the 600 meters and longer events, as will seventh-grader Savannah Simmons.

Junior Gabby Shean will be a top throwing option for the Warriors, as she posted a pair of top 10 finishes at the Central/West Division II Track & Field Championships during the outdoor season.

Senior Haley Rode and juniors Taylor Williams and Melissa Purinton are also on the roster, as are freshmen Hailey Buchanan, Kaitlyn Bisnette, Jaxon Palmer, Sage Spitzer, Ella Wilda and Cassidy Weber.

Eighth-graders Lilly DeViollet, Lola Hoffenberg and Taylor Vettori join seventh-graders Lily Smithers and Sarah Spring on the squad.

Pioneer

Junior Scott McDonough leads the Pioneer boys’ team, which has solid numbers this season under head coach Jim Bell and assistant coach Gina Johnson, and the Panthers hope to make some noise in the Valley South as a result.

“We have pretty good numbers,” explained Bell of the roster which features 26 athletes, including 19 returners. “Many veterans could surprise.”

McDonough leads the pack, as he’ll be one of the top long jumpers in WMass this winter. As a sophomore, he finished as the runner-up in the event at the Div. V state meet, and took 21st in the All-State meet. McDonough will also be a member of the team’s 55-meter relay squad.

Senior captains A.J. Wilson and Andrew Pratt will look to bolster the shot put unit for the Panthers, an event that Bell expects the squad to be strong in. Senior Alex Wahlstrom is also a captain and will compete in the shot put and 1-mile, while junior Gavin Curtis rounds out the captains and will be a 600-meter runner along with competing in the relays.

Senior Jake Kelton (300, relay, high jump) and juniors Jake Wallace (600, jumps), Gabe Norwood (600, relays), Nate Mousseau (300, long jump), Jack Loud (1,000, 600), Brian Killay (hurdles) and Jake Comiskey (shot put, 2-mile) all return to the fray this winter, as does sophomore Brian Bodenstein (mile, 1,000), freshmen Henry Curtis (distance events), Noah DeRuiter (distance, long jump), Lucas Kelton (distance), Manny Little (distance, hurdles) and Daniel Kang (distance) along with eighth-grade Will Rosenberg (55, 300).

The Pioneer newcomers on the boys’ side include Cooper Bullock (shot put), Gavin Johnson (55, 300), Levi Moran (distance), Bradley Norwood (sprints), Austin Walker (55, 300, long jump), Jonathon Bodenstein (distance), Holden Woodward (distance) and Owen Deane (mid-distance).

• The girls’ team has an influx of newcomers from the seventh and eighth grades, meaning the Panthers will likely see contributors from all over the roster this winter.

“This is a rebuilding year with so many newcomers, but it’s exciting,” offered Bell of the squad.

Junior Avery Kelton (55, high jump) and sophomore Ella Potee (middle distance, relays, shot put) will serve as captains for Pioneer, while freshman Liesel Nygard (hurdles) was a key contributor for the outdoor team last spring.

Sophomores Sydney Unaitis (mid-distance, long jump), Katie Wheeler (sprints, long jump), McKayla Glazier (distance, high jump) and Jenny Fuller (sprints, high jump, shot put) all return, as do eighth-graders Mya Cooke (sprints, high jump) and Grace Rosenberg (sprints).

Sophomores Thalia Schodel (sprints), Shelby Kosterman (sprints) and Jordin Hubbard (middle distance, shot put) are all new to the squad, as are eighth-graders Kassidy DiGeorge (sprints, long jump), Emily LaBelle (sprints), Jane Potee (sprints, long jump), Ella Rowan-Decker (hurdles) and Alyson Unaitis (sprints, long jump). Seventh-graders Laila Heilman (middle distance, sprints), Shaelyn Mullen (shot put, middle distance), Olivia Hammond (shot put) and Savy Ellis (sprints) round out the squad.