It all starts at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The top track & field athletes that have earned the qualifying standards, battling together inside the Reggie Lewis Center at the Meet of Champions. The best of the best all in one place. It doesn’t get any better than this, folks! Throughout the week, we’ll get you amped up for the Big Dance with full previews of all the individual events. So let’s get it started. We begin those previews with the boys’ throwing and jumping events – the shot, long jump and high jump.
In most years, a throw in the mid-to-high 50-foot foot range could win this event at the Meet of Champions. For MA athletes, that hasn’t quite been the case as it’s happened only once since 2019. And it won’t happen on Saturday, too. The No. 1 seed and overwhelming favorite is Bishop Stang’s Jacob Cookinham, who has been consistent all season long in the shot with a career best of 67-4.5 from last month’s East Coast Invitational. Cookinham comes into this meet after throwing a near best of 67-0.5 at the Division 4 Championship last Wednesday. Cookinham, who ranks No. 1 in the country by two feet, is prepping for the nationals next month with hopes of winning his first national crown. Even though there are some talented athletes that will be stepping into the circle this weekend, we don’t expect Cookinham to lose. Just who are those other athletes? Parker Charter’s Theo Putterbaugh appears to be the front-runner for that runner-up spot or an upset of Cookinham if he should falter. Puterbaugh has thrown no less than 52-2.25 this season and the last two meets has gone over 55 feet with a three-foot PR of 56-4.5 from the MSTCA Qualifier on Feb. 11 and an equally impressive 55-9.75 from his victory at the D5 states last Thursday. A total of nine athletes have exceeded 50 feet this season! That’s quite a field. Among some of the other throwers that could earn a top placement on the podium are Peabody’s Alex Jackson (54-2.25), Newton South’s Zezo Beshir (52-6) and Lexington’s Allen Jiang (52-1.5), just to name a few.
This is an event that could certainly get competitive for that No. 1 spot. The top seed is North Attleboro’s Nathan Shulttz, who has a best of 22-5.75 from a Hockomock League meet back in mid January. Shultz nearly matched that effort at Sunday’s Division 3 State Championships where he won his third individual title of the day with a leap of 22-5. Shultz, who also captured the high jump and the 55-meter dash at the meet, has been consistent in the long jump with most of his performances in the high 21-foot to mid 22-foot range. He has the speed to excel down the runway, too. His clocked a best of 6.51 for the short dash this past weekend, which ranks No. 5 in the state. Wellesley’s Tyler Yen is the only other athlete in the field that has gone further than 22 feet with his PR of 22-1.75 from his win at the D2 states. That effort was a quarter of an inch from his previous best from the BSC Championships on Feb. 8. From there, a plethora of leapers fall in the mid 21-foot range, which could make things interesting this weekend. Brockton’s Christensen Paul won the D1 title on Friday with a nine-inch best of 21-10.25. There’s also Stoughton’s Alex Huynh (21-8), Westborough’s Alan Nguyen (21-7.5), Attleboro’s Aidann Rivera (21-7.5) and North Andovers Caleb Agbor (21-6.5) that could be battling for some high positions.
The Rocketeers’ Shultz is in the mix again in what could be an intense battle in this event. North Atlleboro’s versatile senior is ranked No. 2 with a best of 6-7. The No. 1 seed is Wakefield’s Lucas Kehoe, who cleared a PR of 6-8 to win a Middlesex League meet on Dec. 30. Based on consistency, Shultz appears to have the edge this weekend. In addition to his PR, he’s jumped 6-6 four other times, including this past Sunday at D3s. Kehoe went 6-5 back on Dec. 22 and had one other six-footer with a 6-2 effort at the Northeast Invitational where he tied for second with Oyster River (NH) senor Daniel Doherty, two inches behind Arlington’s Rowan McConkey, the individual winner. McConkey has a best of 6-5 this season, along with St. John’s Prep’s Drew McStay. Five more are at 6-4. Like we said, this could be an intense on the infield.