Reigning Warriors still the team to beat

  • It seems like senior distance runner Sam Rode has been around forever, but he’ll be back for a grand finale this season for the Warriors. RECORDER STAFF/MATT BURKHARTT

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/4/2016 12:01:02 PM

Mohawk Trail Regional High School made it a three-peat last spring when it earned its third consecutive Intercounty League boys’ track & field championship by finishing a perfect 6-0 in the league.

The Warriors look to make it four straight league titles and do appear to be the front-runners once again. Frontier Regional School, which finished second last season at 5-1 in the IL, gave Mohawk its toughest league competition last season, and actually edged Mohawk in the PVIAC Division II Championship meet, as the Red Hawks finished in third place, a spot ahead of fourth-place Mohawk.

Although Mohawk, like every other IL team, did lose some talented seniors from a year ago, what sets the Warriors apart was last year’s junior class, which featured a number of talented athletes. That should help make the Warriors the cream of the crop entering the season.

But don’t count out any of the other teams. Frontier has a large roster but will have to reload after losing a number of contributors to graduation. Mahar Regional School is another team on the rise, returning a number of competitors, while Greenfield High School also has some top athletes and should remain competitive. Franklin County Technical School, Pioneer Valley Regional School and Athol High School are each a bit lighter on roster numbers and will struggle to compete for a team title, but each team does have individuals who will be heard from each and every week, including the postseason.

Here’s a look at each team:

Athol (0-8)

For the second straight year, Athol High School went winless last season.

The once-mighty Red Raiders finished below .500 for the fifth straight year and winless for the second straight, which comes on the heels of two straight one-win seasons.

The Red Raiders may once again struggle with numbers this season, but there is plenty to be excited about, as a strong crop of underclassmen provided a bright spot for the program’s future.

Though just a sophomore, Mason Barrieau is already making a PVIAC name for himself. Barrieau came in sixth in the 400 low hurdles at the PVIAC meet last season and also took 12th in the 110 highs. He is also a solid long- and high-jumper.

Classmate Chase Michaud competes in the same two jumping events and also runs the 800, where he finished 11th in the PVIAC meet last season.

The other postseason contributor from a year ago was senior Mike Welcome, a thrower who qualified for the PVIAC meet in the discus and shot put. Welcome came in 12th in the discus and returns to both events this season.

Matt Winters is another thrower, plus a solid contibutor in the 400. Tyler Bosworth is a sprinter who throws the disc, while Colby Newcombe runs the mile and throws. Charlie White is a distance runner, while Rowan Anderson, Dan Arpide, Colby Hume and Connor Arpide are all throwers. Greg Moore is a sprinter and thrower, Justin Simkewicz is a jumper and will run the 800.

Jay Bates is a sprinter, while Gabe Roberts runs the 400, throws the disc and can high jump. DJ St. Jean is a jumper and distance runner, Brent Landry throws and sprints, and Anthony Divoll, Alexander McIntosh and Parker Lizotte are all middle-distance runners.

FC Tech (2-5)

Franklin County Technical School earned its second straight two-win season last spring, when it completed its third year as a cooperative with Turners Falls High School.

The Eagles and Indians will once again compete together this spring under the Franklin Tech banner, and the Eagles will try to move up the standings in the IL.

The Eagles have 15 athletes coming into the season, including some very talented individuals. The most dominant athlete on the team last season was Owen Ortiz, who returns for his junior season. Ortiz competed in three events at the PVIAC meet and did well in each, placing third in the 100, fourth in the long jump and fifth in the triple. He returns to all three events and will also be part of the 4 by 100 relay team.

Franklin Tech has three seniors, including Nik Skiathitis and Kyle Gray, who run sprints. Gray is also a pole vaulter and jumper. Gabe Vorce is the other senior and will do throws. Ortiz is joined by three other athletes in the junior class. Nick Waterman runs the 800 and jumps, Dalton Wesoloski sprints, and Ricky Smith could run the 400 and throw.

Sophomore Calin Giurgiu is a thrower and sprinter, while Will Berry runs distance and jumps. Scott Martin is another distance runner and jumper, while Christian Smith and Jaxon Rollins are new. Grayson Funk is a freshman who’ll run the 200 and 400, and he’ll also throw the javelin and can jump, while Alexander Lavalley is a sprinter, jumper and pole vaulter. Tyler Whitney is the team’s lone seventh-grader and will sprint and vault.

Frontier (6-1)

Two years ago, Frontier finished third in the IL standings. Last season, the Red Hawks finished second. Head coach Walt Flynn hopes the upward trend can continue this season and help his team earn the league title, their first since 2011.

Frontier had a strong 2015 season, narrowly losing to Mohawk in the regular season (80-65), which wound up as the Hawks’ only loss. Frontier then went on to score more points than the Warriors at the PVIAC meet to finish in third place, one spot above the Warriors.

Flynn lost a number of senior contributors from last season’s team but does have some talent coming back in the senior class. Chad Parent will be one of the top sprinters around after finishing ninth in the PVIAC meet last spring. Classmate Connor Hamilton is a top contributor in the 800, placing 10th in the event at the PVIACs. Andy Habel is the top distance runner and leads a senior crop that also includes Alex Hamer, Dylan Landry, Aidan Waldron and Cam Braverman. Jared Kellogg is also back to compete in the shot put and is the top thrower on the Red Hawks, while classmate Liam Koski is another thrower. Nate Walker is another senior who’ll compete in the jumps and sprints.

Aaron Dorshow is the only returning junior and he’ll compete in distance events. Sophomore Miguel Olvera-Aguilera runs the 800, and classmate Brandon Trueswell runs the 400. Andy Paul is a sprinter and Joe Cohoon also returns and will be in the mix at various events.

From there, Flynn said there is still a lot of event-to-event competition among teammates.

Robert Rogers-Manatt, Joe Zinan, Ben Tillona and Clay Kocot are all raw seniors, while Ewan Bennett, Luke Parsons and Jonathan Delaney are new juniors. Matt Carlson, Aaron Landry, Hayden Rouse, Tyler Mayrand and Joey Lawton are all new sophomores.

The returning freshmen class includes Eric Trueswell, Ben Hamer, Carsten Carey, Aaron Halbach, Nate Austin, Dan Dejnak, Phaeton Koski and Jason Rybczyk. The new freshmen are Alex Sharp, Johnathan Creque and Josiah Murray.

Greenfield (4-3)

Greenfield High School has become a WMass pole-vaulting Mecca.

While former Green Wave and All-State champion Vlad Popusoi breaks records at Division I UMass-Lowell as a redshirt freshman this spring, a number of his understudies are continuing what has become a pole-vaulting tradition.

Green Wave coach Stu Elliott has three pole vaulters back this season who took up three of the top five spots in the PVIAC meet, and two of those finished among the top four at the West-Central Division II meet.

Silvian Popusoi, the junior younger brother of Vlad, finished second in both WMass and West-Central and is among the favorites to win the event this spring. He is also a solid jumper and hurdler/sprinter. Junior David Giurgiu took fourth at both those postseason meets and returns this spring, while Isaiah Morrison was fifth at the PVIAC meet and returns for his junior season. Morrison is also a middle-distance/distance runner.

The Green Wave senior class is four-deep, with shot-putter Nick Xayasouk among the leaders. Jesus Rodriguez, Steve Lively and Richard Buckowski round out the class.

Matteo Velez, Mike Aras and Sam Knight are all junior mid-distance runners. Connor Joy and William Roux are also out for the team.

Liam McLain is a sprinter and comes from the sophomore class. David Emberly and Charlie Fox join Dan Mihailicenco and Lazarous Santiago from that class. Dylan Badillo is another pole vaulter and comes out of the freshman class. Classmate Tyssen LaBombard is one of the team’s most talented distance runners, while John Dyer and Eli Stathis will also contribute.

Peter Balan, Crescens Ivorschi and Sean O’Sullivan are three promising eighth-graders.

Mahar (4-3)

Quick. Name the last team other than Mohawk to win the IL?

The answer is Mahar Regional School, which won the second of its back-to-back titles in 2012 before Mohawk went on its current three-peat.

The Senators have hung around near the top of the IL since winning those titles, placing second two years ago and third last season. This spring the team will try to compete with the Warriors for the title, and come into the year with a solid crop of seniors and a deep, talented junior class.

The senior class is led by some talented throwers. Gabe Marcoux finished 23rd in the shot put at PVIAC last season, while Jason Soucie was fifth in the javelin. Kevin Kowalczyk is also a thrower who will factor into the points game. Riley Gervais and Owen Cook are both seniors who are strong sprinters and jumpers, and Caleb Nutter-Truehart is the sixth senior and a talented jumper and mid-distance runner.

Issak Reinikainen and Nick Stafford are two talented juniors. Last season, as sophomores, both stood out at the PVIAC meet. Reinikainen took sixth in the high jump, seventh in the 800 and 12th in the triple, while Stafford was 17th in the 400 and is also a jumper.

The junior class has a dozen other athletes. Levi Baruch, Bryce Cleveland, David Dexter, Austin Gelinas, Chad Marcoux and John Nye are all throwers, while Ahmad Hamadneh, Joey Khoosakul and Damon Mitchell each sprint and jump. Hunter Apteker hurdles and jumps, and Andrew Hill and Brian Nye are distance runners.

Ash Shaw is a jumper/sprinter PVIAC meet qualifier in the high jump and is one of 13 sophomores. Ryan Badgley, Cole Emery and Nick Sharp are throwers, while Hugo Frost and Aaron Hendry are talented hurdlers. Jon Blattenburger, Alex Gurganus, Seth Mitchell and Sebastian Shaw all jump and run distance, and Tim Griffin jumps and runs mid-distance events. Hunter Stanley runs distance, and Jamie Teele jumps and sprints.

Edward Bennington and Cam Mosher jump and run distance events from the freshman class, and Peter Currie and Alex Gelinas are both throwers. Brendon Arsenault jumps and sprints, Michael Moran jumps, and Lucas Seney throws and sprints.

Mohawk (8-0)

The rich just keep getting richer.

The three-time IL champion Warriors not only have a large crop of talented athletes returning this season to make them the front runners, they also have the largest number of athletes out for the team in over a decade, with more than 30 candidates.

That bodes well for the future of what has been the most successful program in the area for many years. This year should be no different. Mohawk’s biggest loss came in the form of Lucas Purington, who was a top 400 runner and could also score points in a number of events.

Senior Eli Shearer returns as the top point-scorer for the Warriors and can help the team out in a number of ways. Shearer is one of the best sprinters in the valley, finishing fifth in the 100 and second in the 200 at the PVIAC Division II meet, and is also a strong jumper, as evidenced by his sixth-place triple jump of a season ago.

Classmate Cam Olanyk is another strong Warriors performer, finishing fourth in the mile at the PVIAC meet last season. Olanyk may move down in the running events, possibly competing in the 400 or 800. Senior Sam Rode is another talented senior and can run distance (finished seventh in the 2-mile) as well as the hurdling events (took seventh in the 400 hurdles).

Rode is not even the team’s best hurdler. That title belongs to junior Amar Abbatiello, who finished third in the 110 high hurdles last season. Abbatiello is also a solid pole-vaulter, taking third at PVIACs.

The Warriors have some young blood in the distance running events as well. Sophomore Seth Hoynoski returns after placing 11th in the mile last season, while freshman teammate Bennett Boucias is back after placing 12th. Junior Aidan Sandvik is also a distance runner.

Edward Muenkel is a senior thrower, while junior Zach Coburn was eighth in the 800. Ben White is a sprinter out of the junior class, and David Hobbs is a sophomore sprinter. Ben Warger is a freshman sprinter who qualified for the PVIAC meet in the 100 last season.

Mohawk has a lot of athletes on the team that coach Sean Billings is still sorting out. D’Angelo Sauceda is a senior, while Hunter Gibson, Daniel Miner, Zachary Goodell, John Demech and Riley DuPree are all juniors. Gabe Bower is a sophomore, and Dani White, Walker Gibson, London Summers, Guy Rice-Lesure and Tim Burnes are all freshmen.

Pioneer (2-5)

Pioneer may be in a bit of a rebuilding mode as far as competing as a team, but the future looks bright for the Panthers and, even with a young team, there should be some Pioneer postseason representation.

The Panthers enter the year with no seniors or juniors but have good numbers in the sophomore and freshman class, including some talented up-and-comers.

The sophomore class is full of throwers, including team captains Andrew Pratt and A.J. Wilson. Cole Leighton, who’s father Robert Leighton coaches the throwers on the team, is another thrower, and Justin Hubbard is the fourth sophomore thrower and is a terrific athlete.

Jacob Kelton is one of the top pole vaulters on the team, which is coached by masters pole vaulter Jim Bell, and Alyks Kostecki rounds out the sophomore class as a solid hurdler.

The freshman class has nine athletes, including Jake Wallace, one of the best on the team, who is a promising jumper and mid-distance runner. Gavin Curtis and Brian Killay each pole vault. Curtis will also run the 400, while Killay is a sprinter. Wyatt Keith jumps and springs, Ethan Lenois throws, and Scott McDonough sprints and jumps. Dalton Hanson, Nathan Mousseau and Austin Walker are all newcomers.

The Panthers have three eighth-graders. Brian Bodenstein and Sean Damon both run distance. Damon and fellow eighth-grader each pole vault, and Smith will also sprint. Rounding out the team is five seventh-graders. Henry Curtis and Lucas Kelton both jump and run mid-distance, Liam Bradley-Curtis jumps and sprints, Miguel Clapp jumps and runs the 400, and Noah deRuiter is a newcomer.

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