Senator boys poised to make noise

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

There’s plenty at stake for local athletes in Northampton Friday night at Smith College, which hosts the annual PVIAC Indoor Track League Championship beginning at 6 p.m.

After capturing the Valley League North Division regular-season crown, the Mahar Regional School boys’ team looks poised for the best finish of local teams. The Senators have three individuals seeded in the top 5 of their events, along with a pair of top 5-seeded relay teams.

Mahar has benefited from a busy winter schedule that saw the program compete in several statewide competitions in Boston on weekends in addition to the Friday-night PVIAC slate.

“That’s where a lot of our good times have come out of, racing down there,” said Mahar coach Sarah Woodward of the big meet prep in Boston. “Having better competition and faster competition, the kids want to perform better as a result.”

Mahar should be in the mix for a potential top-5 team finish on the boys’ side. Helping lead that charge is senior Ash Shaw, the No. 1 high-jump seed with a top qualifying clearance of 6 feet, 2 inches. Shaw, who is also top-10 in the 600 meters, nearly cleared 6-4 a week ago. Woodward said something to watch will be whether his running event interferes with his jumping schedule.

“If he can jump well, he’ll have a really good chance to win,” said Woodward of Shaw. “He’s beaten all those kids throughout the season head to head.

“Hopefully he’ll jump before he runs. They’re starting at a higher height (5-6) than they have during the season, so hopefully he can jump before he has to run. It’s easier that way. He’s had to wait a lot this year because he comes in at a higher height than most of the other kids.”

Senior Nick Sharp is seeded second in the shot put for Mahar, and he should score key points in the event. While Sharp’s best qualifying throw of 47 feet, 11¼ inches puts him clearly in the No. 2 position, Athol High School senior Kris Selanis is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as shot-put champion. Selanis won every regular-season meet in the shot, and his top mark of 54-10½ broke his own Valley League record.

Mahar senior Hugo Frost is seeded fifth in the long jump, and Woodward said the hope is that Frost can break the 20-foot mark after entering with a qualifying leap of 19-11.

“He’s consistently been in the high 19s this winter so if he gets a mark right on the board, he’ll be fine,” said Woodward of Frost.

Pioneer Valley Regional School junior Scott McDonough is the No. 2 seed in the long jump (21-4½), right behind top-seeded Ryan Lavelle of East Longmeadow High School (21-6). McDonough was sixth in the event at last year’s PVIAC Championship.

Two Mahar relay teams could be in contention. The 4x400 team of Frost, Ash Shaw, Aaron Hendry and Aidan DiDonato is seeded third, while the 4x200 squad of Sebastian Shaw, Jamie Teele, DiDonato and Alex Currier has the fifth-seeded qualifying mark.

The locals should be competitive in the 300 meters. Athol junior Mason Barrieau is seeded sixth in the event (37.20 seconds), while Hendry is right behind as the No. 7 seed (37.51). East Longmeadow’s Elijah Johnson enters as the top seed at 36.46 seconds.

Barrieau is also seeded sixth in the 55-meter hurdles, while Athol is seeded sixth in the 4x200 relay.

Mohawk Trail Regional High School junior Meghan Davis headlines the local girls, seeded in the top four of three distance events.

Davis, who was third in the 2-mile at last year’s PVIACs, is the No. 2 seed in this year’s 2-mile field, behind only defending champion Sophia Jacobs-Townsley of Amherst-Pelham Regional High School. Greenfield High School has two runners seeded in the top seven of the 2-mile field, as senior Amy O’Sullivan is the No. 3 qualifier and classmate Jamie Day is No. 7.

Davis is also seeded third in the 1-mile and fourth in the 1,000 meters. She ran all three events during the regular-season finale last week, sweeping the trio in a busy night at the office.

Mohawk teammate Gabby Shean is seeded fifth in the shot put. Her best heave of 31-8½ has her in the mix. South Hadley High School’s Savannah Sudyka is the No. 1 seed in the event at 36-6½.

Mahar junior Anna Wetherbee appears to have her team’s best chance at a top long-jump showing. Wetherbee’s season-best of 16-6 puts her as the No. 3 seed, with Northampton High School’s Hazel Ethier leading the pack at 16-11½. Sophomore Kamryn Reilly isn’t far behind in the event, as she’ll look to score points for the Senators as the No. 5 seed (15-10½).

Wetherbee could also score points in the 600 meters, where she’s seeded sixth (1:47.41). Amherst’s Isabela Shepard is the top seeded runner in the field (1:40.20).

“Anna and Kamryn have a good chance of placing in the long jump,” Woodward offered. “And if Anna runs well, she’ll be in the top eight mix of the 600. She keeps improving all the time.”

Woodward said another goal for Friday’s meet will be attempting to qualify more athletes for next week’s MIAA Division V State Championship. The Senators already have five boys, two girls and three relays slated to compete in the event set for Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury. The All-State Meet is slated for Feb. 24.