Frontier, Mohawk stand above the crowd

  • Precocious Pioneer sprinter Ashley Hubbard was a valued member of the 4x100 Panther relay team last season as a freshman, so she should be even more productive this season as a sophomore who’s getting stronger and more competitive by the day. RECORDER STAFF/MATT BURKHARTT

  • Two-time Central-Western Mass. defending high-jump champion Kat Miner might be unbeatable as a senior this season, when she’ll be looking to rise to state champion while filling the role of a Frontier team leader as one of 12 seniors on the high-powered Red Hawks’ team. FOR THE RECORDER/BETH REYNOLDS

  • WESTFIELD, MA - May 30, 2015 - MIAA Central/West D2 Championship State Qualifying Meet. Athol's Emily Casella at the shot put. beth Reynolds photo —Beth Reynolds

  • WESTFIELD, MA - May 30, 2015 - MIAA Central/West D2 Championship State Qualifying Meet. Athol's Emily Casella at shot put. Photo Beth Reynolds

  • WESTFIELD, MA - May 30, 2015 - MIAA Central/West D2 Championship State Qualifying Meet. Frontier hurdler —Beth Reynolds 727-418-2575

  • WESTFIELD, MA - May 30, 2015 - MIAA Central/West D2 Championship State Qualifying Meet. Frontier's Kat Miner at the High Jump - Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • Mohawk two-miler Meghan Davis was a top distance runner last season as an eighth-grader and should be even better this time around for the stacked Warriors. recorder staff/Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/4/2016 12:03:26 PM

Don’t expect any significant changes during girls’ outdoor track and field this season.

Frontier Regional School, which won the Suburban League and PVIAC Division II championship and was the Central/West D-II runner-up, appears to be the favorite to defend its Suburban title and contend in the aforementioned postseason events, while Mohawk Trail Regional High School is the favorite to defend its Intercounty League crown, with Mahar Regional School right on its heels.

Pioneer Valley Regional School is hoping more depth this season will help it be a factor in the IL, Greenfield High School has a number of athletes who could cause problems for the frontrunners in spite of a lack of overall depth, while Athol High School and Turners Falls High School are struggling with numbers.

Here’s as closer look at the seven area teams:

Suburban League

Frontier

Somehow, veteran Red Hawks head coach Bob Smith never seems to graduate many athletes despite having 60 or more team members each season. Last year was the perfect example – only four girls graduated from a roster of 70.

This year’s total – as of press time – was 64. That means Smith, now in his 37th season, and longtime assistant coach Jim Recore will work their hardest to find where everybody fits best and spread that depth across the board.

Frontier could win most meets with its immensely talented, 12-member senior class. It is led by Katherine Miner (sprints, jumps) the two-time defending C-WMass high-jump champion, who also took fourth in the C/WM 200 meters. Katherine Conlisk (hurdles, throws, jumps) captured the C/WM javelin, Remi Quesnelle (jumps, sprints) tied for sixth in the C/WM high jump, and Sarah Conlisk (hurdles, jumps) placed third in the outdor pentathlon. Zoe Barker (hurdles, sprints) was a top-15 finisher in the C/WM 400 hurdles.

Caitlin Burnett, Alexandra Fitzgibbons and Emily Wood are all distnace specialists, Katherine Burke and Grettle Allis will focus on sprints, and Izzy Contois and Megan-Grace Slocombe are also throwers.

The Red Hawks have just three juniors and three returning sophomores on the roster. The 11th-graders are

Lisa Portier (jumps, sprints), Jaime Byrne (vaults, throws) and Olivia Warren (jumps, sprints), while Sage Bourbeau (sprints, jumps), Greyson Young (distance) and Lilli Powers (Vaults, Hurdles) are the veteran 10th-graders.

Frontier’s future remains bright with 13 freshmen all back for another year. They include Meghan Waldron (jumps), Rachel Skribiski (jumps, sprints), Ivy Shattuck (hurdles, jumps), Paige Moriarty (vault), Jenna Martin (sprints, jumps), Emily Laus (distance, throws), Eleanor Klitzke (throws), Fiona Ferry (distance, hurdles, jumps), Paige Eddy (throws), Carleigh Clark, (throws, sprints), Marisela Ackerman (sprints, jumps), Alicia Hancock (jumps, sprints) and Elizabeth Fuqua (throws).

Nearly as many eighth-graders (12) returned, giving Smith plenty of building future blocks. They are Evelyn Boyden (distance, vaults), Meaghan Cohoon (distance), Coriann Delaney (mid distance), Zoe Demko (distance), Kate Hickey (sprints), Adrienne Josephs (distance), Alexa Kassis (sprints, jumps), Sam Lamere (distance), Claudia Rajballie (hurdles, vaults), Abby Sampson (mid distance), Alina Smiarowski (distance), Jalen Sullivan (sprints), Lia Vichi (distance) and Annika Voorheis (hurdles vaults).

Smith also has 19 newcomers. They include sophomroes Lexi Noga, Aleyha Johnson and Maddie Braverman; eighth-graders Grace Lee, Kimani Topolski-Burgess and Maddie Sevarino; and seventh-graders Alyson Barnes, Skyler Dennie, Malia Hanes, Reilly Isler, Maddy Leone, Mackenzie Pion, Hannah Ravish, Sofia Rossi, Kate Swasey, Eliza Voorheis, Kaleigh Wissmann, Heavyn Woods and Kensington Young.

Smith believes his team’s strength includes jumps, sprints, the senior class and leadership, but added that they’re not as experienced in the hurdles, 400 meters and some of the throwing events.

As for his thoughts on who may win the league, a modest Smith said, “It could be anyone.”

Intercounty League

Mohawk

Warriors head coach Joe Chadwick rarely has to worry about depth, and this year is no exception. His IL championship squad has 39 athletes training for another run at the league crown.

As if that wasn’t intimidating enough, 10 of this season’s 13 newcomers are middle schoolers and at least one of them could make an immediate impact.

This year’s team, however, remains the league favorite because of a talented senior class.

Sally Slowinski is the most versatile athlete on the squad. A strong field performer, she’ll see action in the shot put, all of the jumps and the sprints. Kayla Kurland-Davis is another strong jumper and 200 runner, while Kelsey Scranton will be a factor in the triple jump and add depth in the sprints.

Chadwick will have plenty of options for most events with the rest of the 12th-graders, including Maddie Roccio (100, javelin), Taylor Brown (sprints, jumps), Abbie Boswell (mid-distance, 200), Maddie Boucias (distance), Hannah Kelleher (400), Juliette Shean (400h, 400m), Laurel DeRose and (throws), and Heather Greene (throws).

Chadwick acknowledged that last year’s seniors were the most versatile group he’s ever coached, but this year’s contingent can make the same kind of impact – though it won’t be easy.

“We have a lot to make up but I believe this senior group knows what it takes and they know they have put in the work,” said the Hall-of-Fame mentor, who has over 1,100 career varsity wins at Mohawk. “They’ve been there.”

Kayla Baus is the top returning junior. She’ll focus on the pole vault and high jump, and Chadwick said she’ll serve as a utility runner. Hannah Poplawski is back to compete in the throwing events, and Tyler Rice will run the 400 and 800 meters.

Violet Rawlings (throws) is the team’s best discus thrower. Fellow sophomores Haley Rode (pole vault), Lilly Wells (400, 800) and Chloe Doyle (throws) will also contribute to the Warriors’ scoring.

Meghan Davis (distance) leads a solid freshman class that includes Lucy Carr (400), Jordan Rice (800, 400), Mae Rice-Lesure (sprints), Gabby Shean (javelin, 800) and Lily Shearer (hurdles), and Carli Cusimano (400) and Barrett Liebermann (hurdles) are the returning eighth-graders.

Of the newcomers, seventh-grader Jackie Wells could make the biggest impact. She adds to the long list of talented Warrior distance runners.

Sophomore Emma Poplawski (throws) and freshmen Erin Laffond (sprints, jumps) and Clarissa Pollard (distance) are the high school-aged newbies.

Other first-time middle-schoolers include eighth-graders Megan Dyer (sprints), Zia Meyer (sprints) and Grace Poplawski (throws), and seventh-graders Hailey Buchanan, Courtney Churchill, Bailey Cousineau, Lily Gibson, Olivia Parent and Kaitlyn Randal.

“We won the league pretty easily last year but I don’t see that happening this year.” said Chadwick. “I think it’s a toss-up between us and Mahar.”

Mahar

If depth and experience are the combination needed to contend for a league title, Senators head coach Sarah Woodward has it this season.

Her squad, which currently numbers 39 in all, has a great mix of veterans and youth. Add in that fact that 16 of them are are still in middle school, and Mahar could be a major IL player in the title chase for the next several years.

However, this team is clearly going to go where the seniors can lead them. Woodward is impressed enough with her four 12th-graders that they were named quad-captains.

The most dynamic athlete of the four is Caroline Grutchfield, who finished fifth in the C/WMass pentathlon and will compete in a multitude of events. Allyson Parker – who’s headed to Division I Providence College for field hockey in the fall – is a top sprinter and jumper, and Ashley Ehlen and Natalie Gonynor are two of the team’s top throwers.

Ehlen and Gonynor, along with junior Lauryn White and sophomore Maeve Powell, will be among the dozen or so athletes in Woodward’s stable who should help Mahar hold the lead in every meet after the field events.

White is the only returning junior. The other returning 10th-graders are Kianna Reilly and Erin Sandova.

The freshman group may be Mahar’s best class overall, led by multi-talented Jeanne Grutchfield. She’s practically a mirror image of her sister – placing eighth in the pentathlon and will excel in any event she enters. Another impressive performer is ​Anna Wetherby, who will focus on sprints, jumps and the pole vault.

Others who could contribute in various events include Sophie Apteker (distance, javelin), Abby Bonk (hurdles, jumps), Emma Currier (distance, jumps), Katelyn Galvin (hurdles, pole vault), Marie Nottleson (hurdles, jumps) and Ava Santana (hurdles, jumps).

Ella Fontaine (distance) and Kamryn Reilly (sprints, jumps) are two of the four returning eighth-graders, and both gained valuable experience in last year’s C/WM championships. The other two returnees are Emily Paluk and MaryAnne Prescott, both of whom add to Mahar’s quality depth in the throws.

Nearly half the roster is new, including juniors Anna Sereda (throws) and Kenzie Tenney (multiple events), sophomores Megan Miller (throws) and Mayte Torres (throws), and freshmen Danielle Ellis (distance), Elina Gordon-Halpern (throws) and Kat Tarrios (distance).

Tenney, a strong multi-sport athlete, could make an immediate impact with her versatility.

Woodward’s younger first-year athletes include eighth graders Issy Cardona (mid-distance), Natalie Lyman (throws), Jenna Thebeau (sprints, jumps), and Charlotte Torres (throws), and seventh-graders Siobhan Davis (sprints, jumps), Quincy Drew (utility), Aileen Fitzgerald (mid-distance, distance), Tabitha Harris (sprints, jumps), Abby Henne (utility), Gracie Marsh (sprints, jumps), Delaney Parker (sprints, jumps, pole vault) and Daisy Si (sprints, jumps).

“We have great leadership and a good mix of returnees in several events,” said Woodward. “We aren’t really lacking in any one event. We have Ally back along with Kenzie Tenney from softball, the Grutchfields, Anna Wetherbee – who is coming off a tremendous indoor season – and my throwers, Lauryn, Ashley, Natalie and Maeve, who are strong and ready to improve.”

Pioneer

With a roster of 29, including eight seniors, Panthers head coach Gina Johnson has plenty of reason for optimism.

The senior class is highlighted by Danielle Devine and Devon Roy. Devine (sprints, high jump) is hoping to continue her high-jump success from the indoor season, while Roy is healthy and ready to go in whichever events she’s needed. They’ll be joined by classmates Brenda Brewer, Kelsey Gorzocoski, Abigail Hoisington, Kayla Hubbard, Kessandra Rooks and Megan Weld.

“As always, Danielle and Devon are the big point-getters for us,” said Johnson. “Danielle had a great indoor season in the high jump and I expect she’ll do well in outdoor. Megan has been getting stronger in the hurdles.”

Victoria Laskoski, who was the Central/Western Mass. runner-up in the pole vault, is the top returning junior, and classmates Madeline LaValley, Karissa Perkins, Grace Rathbun, Kelsey Walker give Pioneer a solid veteran nucleus. Ashley Hubbard and Aiden Gries are the returning sophomores.

“Victoria should do well in the pole vault,” said Johnson. “Karissa looks good and has improved in the hurdles. Ashley looks strong and is a very good athlete, so she is always someone to watch.

Johnson has some promising eighth-graders in McKayla Glazier, Isabel May and Ella Potee, but she added that Glazier and May are currently battling injuries.

Senior Julia Wallace competed in indoor track and opted to continue with outdoor. She’s one of three newcomers from the high school ranks – junior Abigale Buedinger and freshman Avery Kelton are the others.

Newbies from the middle school are eighth-grader Sara Simon and seventh-graders Sydney duKor-Jackson, Paige Loughman, Liesel Nygard, Emaline Relyea-Strawn, Emily Tibbetts, Lily Van Baaren and Kaylin Voudren.

“We should do well in the field events with our returning crew and a few new faces,” said Johnson. “Our weakness will likely be in the distance group, because of the low numbers who compete in those events.”

Greenfield

The Green Wave has quite a bit to look forward to, including a brand-new track. Now the question is: Will it be available for use? Field events can’t be contested due to issues with the sod, so Greenfield’s scheduled home opener Tuesday against Mohawk has already been moved to Buckland.

Coach Luke Martin is hoping to avoid distractions stemming from the track fiasco and focus on getting his team ready after losing seven veterans who didn’t return (five of them seniors), although no one graduated.

Martin’s team will be anchored by senior co-captains Claire Abelson and Ajah Farrington. Abelson is a veteran middle-distance runner (400, 800, 4x400), while Farrington is a sprinting and jumping specialist (100, 200, long jump, triple jump).

“(Claire) is a consistent mid- to long-distance runner,” said Martin of the sixth-year veteran. “Her leadership and experience will be valuable. … (Ajah) has potential to be a top sprinter and jumper in the county and in western Mass., especially now that she can practice on a real track.”

Two other athletes who will anchor the squad along with Abelson and Farrington are junior Sarah O’Sullivan (800, pole vault, 400 hurdles) and sophomore Amy O’Sullivan (pole vault, mile, two-mile).

“(Amy) made huge progress since last season,” offered Martin. “She proved in cross country and indoor track that she’s a top distance runner in the area. The O’Sullivan sisters are consistent and always improving in the pole vault.”

Greenfield also has several experienced veterans back who could help add valuable points in various events, including senior Natalie Lamp (discus, shot put), juniors Anna Jackowski (800, mile, long jump) and Chelsea Mass (shot put, discus, 4x100), sophomores Jamie Day (mile, two-mile, javelin) and Ravin Graves (100, 4x100,long jump, triple jump), and freshman Victoria Tobin.

Junior Amy Muniz (long jump) is one of 12 squad newcomers, along with sophomores Courtney Danielsen (800, mile javelin, high jump), Tannin Costa (400) and Morgan Winn, freshmen Diamond Atkins (100, 200, 4x100, long jump, triple jump), Michele Borcy (400, 800), Caitlyn Moore (200, 4x400), Amelia Simmonds (hurdles, high jump, javelin), and Zahri Smith (shot put, discus), and eighth-graders Mariam Brenes Obando (400, 4x400), Shelby Cutting (800, javelin) and Dina Samake (shot put, discus).

Although Martin is optimistic about the season, he knows the unexpected losses and lack of depth in throwing events are concerning.

“We had almost no throwers last year,” he said. “Now we have plenty with great potential, but the relays could suffer because we’ll be stretched pretty thin. We lost several girls that would have been returning seniors, which especially hurts us in the javelin and high jump.”

Athol

The Red Raiders are still low on numbers, meaning third-year head coach Dan Bevis will have a difficult time filling some events.

However, he still has guaranteed points with senior throwing specialist Emily Casella.

The best thrower in the IL, Casella easily outdistanced the competition in the Central-Western D-II shot put, winning by over 6½ feet. She also placed sixth in the discus. Due to the team’s low numbers, she will also compete in the sprints.

Caley McLaughlin is the other returning senior. She’ll compete in the high jump, 100 and 200. The only other returning athlete is junior Lucy White, who is penciled in for the long jump, 400 and 800.

“Obviously, Casella is the leader,” said Bevis. “We’re expecting big things from her in the shot and disc. She continues to work on technique and is trying to improve with each and every throw. I think she can have a very successful spring. Caley will be our top high jumper.”

Bevis also has seven newcomers to work with, five of whom are sophomores. They include Payton Parker (shot put, javelin, 400), Kyla Rathburn (jumps, 200, 400, hurdles), Kyla Citrowski (long jump, 400, 800, mile), Mercedez Young (distance) and Savanah Smart.

Two seventh-graders also came out for the squad – Kaitlyn Santiago (jumps, 400, 800) and Mariah Valliere.

“I think Payton Parker and Kyla Rathburn can help us this spring,” said Bevis. “They’re both new to spring track and are still learning. I feel Parker will continue to improve in her field events and her numbers will improve as the spring goes on. Once she gets comfortable with the shot and the javelin, I think she could have a very successful spring. … Kyla continues to build off a solid winter season. She’s working hard and will enter a variety of events.”

Turners Falls

The Indians, who co-op with Franklin County Technical School, will have their third coach in three seasons with the arrival of Jeff Jobst.

He has a squad of 11 to work with – seven from Turners, four from Franklin Tech.

All of the Turners girls are underclassmen but four were with the squad last season.

Bryn Kruzlic will compete in the 200 meters, long jump and 4x100 relay, Jenna Hackett is spreading her talents among the pole vault, javelin, 2-mile and 4x100, while Wileshka Vega’s likely events are high jump, hurdles and sprints. All three are juniors. Amanda Cooke (long jump, 100, 4x100) is the only returning sophomore.

Freshmen out for the squad include Madison Adams (100 meters, 100 hurdles), Mireya Ortiz (discus, shot put) and Victoria Veadry (100, 200, shot, discus).

All four of the Eagles should contribute points. They are seniors Emily Giguere (hurdles, triple jump, pole vault), and Samanatha Watson (discus, javelin, mile, 4x400), and sophomores Kristin Slowinski (discus, shot put, 400 hurdles, 4x400) and Lindsey Watson (400, 4x400).

“Working with the coop is an interesting endeavor,” said Jobst. “The kids are working hard. I think we’ll be competitive.”




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