The New England Championships are here. It’s the final stop for most of our athletes this winter and the last tune-up before the nationals the following week for others. Throughout the week, Bay State Running will be previewing all the individual events for Saturday’s competition at the Reggie Lewis Center. Below, we feature the girls’ and boys’ throwing and jumping events; more specifically, the shot, long jump and the high jump.
With five athletes in this field that have thrown further than 40 feet, this is an event that could get very interesting up top. Recent Meet of Champions winner Brooke Serak of Bishop Feehan holds the No. 1 spot with her PR of 41 feet, 8.25 inches from this past weekend’s meet. MA could make an impact in this event with a trio more at 40-plus – Dedham’s Catherine Sargent (41-5.5 best), Lowell’s Ronnie Jones (40-8), and Peabody’s Aaliyah Callahan (40-11). Shalisha Roberston of Hillhouse (CT) is also someone you can’t count out. She has a best of 41-6 from the Hillhouse Invitational back in mid December and was the CIAC State Open winner less than two weeks ago. Other top throwers in the field are RI champion Alyssa Yankee of Cumberland, Anna Siciliano of Hall (CT) and Ludlow’s Elena Champlin, who have all thrown in the mid 38-foot range.
The competition here should be tight with four in the field that have leaped further than 18 feet and a few more not too far behind. Recent RI state champion Dasani Stewart holds the top seed with her best of 18-5.75 from the states. The next three seeds includes Connecticut’s Ganriella Zeller of Lewis Miller and Audrey Kozak of Shelton, who went 1-2 at the State Open with identical distances of 18-5.25, and Cranston West’s Quianna Pezza, a runner-up at the RI states with an 18-1.5 best. . Right on the cusp of an 18-footer is New London (CT) sophomore Darielys Arnold, who’s gone 17-10.5. A bunch more are in the mid-to-high 17-foot range.
Take your pick in this one.There are a number of athletes that could secure that top spot on the podium. The field includes eight girls that gave cleared at least 5-6, including Tantasqua (MA) sophimore Haley McCormack, Conard (CT) senior Audrey Kirkutis and Portsmouth (RI) senior Morgan Casey, who each won their state’s respective championship meets. Casey might be the one to keep an eye on this weekend. The Patriots’ leaper has a season best of 5-4, but has an all-time best of 5-8, which she did twice during the outdoor season. She was also the New England titlist last June where she bested the field by clearing 5-7. Other top athletes that will be competing in this event are Avery Pitts of E.O. Smith (CT), Victoria Baker of Scared Heart Academy (CT), Meg Barnouw of Fairfield Warde (CT) and Jordan Wheaton of Pinkerton (NH.
Top seed and nation-leader Jacob Cookinham is hoping for a big throw this weekend. Whether or not he gets it, we know one thing is a guarantee – a victory on Saturday. The Bishop Stang senior has a best of 67-4.5 from the East Coast Invitational (RI) in mid January. This past weekend, he captured his second straight title at the Meet of Champions where he unleashed a throw of 66-0.25. The closest athletes to Cookinham are New Hampshire’s Toby Brown of Nashua North (55-5.75) and fellow MA rival Theo Puterbaugh of Parker Charter (56-4.5 best). The meet record is held by former Woonsocket (RI) great Tarik Robinson-O”Hagan, the multiple state and national champion, who unleashed a winning effort of 67-11.5 last year. It’s not too far-fetched to think that record could be challenged this weekend. Other top shot-putters that are expected to step in the circle are Bardi Thaci of Old Saybrook (CT), Allen Jaing of Lexington (MA) and Alex Jackson of Peabody (MA) just to name a few. All three have hit 53-plus this season.
The meet record in this event is 23-10, set by Alex Niemiec of Chicopee Comprehensive (MA) back in 2013. There’s a chance that 10-year-old mark could be broken this weekend. The No. 1 seed is Salter Arms of Moses Brown(RI), who has matched and exceeded that mark this season. Arms won the East Coast Invitational at 23-10 and the recent RI states with a PR of 23-10.25. Right behind is fellow Ocean Stater Ethan McCann-Carter of St. Raphael Academy, who’s also gone 23-plus twice this season with a PR of 23-3.5 from East Coast and 23-2.25 from the states. Could we see another duel between these two leapers? We could, but you can’t count out some of the other top athletes behind them, including three that have seeds of more than 22 feet – Connecticut’s Christopher Hergott of Hamden (22-7.25), MA’s Alan Nguyen of Westborough (22-6.5) and CT’s Tyler Turner of St. Paul (22-1.25).
The favorite here seems to be top seed Dar Jankovic of E.O. Smith (CT). Jankovic was unbeaten against state competition and cleared a winning height of 6-7 at the CIAC State Open. He has a PR of 6-8, which he did just a few days ago at the Ocean Breeze Elite Invitational. The host state’s Antonio Waife of St. John’s Prep and Camren Allian of Carver, who went 2-3 at the recent Meet of Champions, both did 6-4 at this past weekend’s competition. There’s also Demetrius Outland of Central (RI). He was second at the RI state meet, where he matched his best of 6-4. Don’t ignore Demetrius Reyes of Bishop Hendricken (RI). The Hawks sophomore, who also plays for the school’s basketball team, has an all-time best of 6-7 from the Class A Championships on Feb. 4.