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Harwood Track teams have another successful season

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06/18/2009

By Taggert Haslam, coach

The Harwood Union track program had a great turnout this 2009 year, carrying a combined roster with boys and girls of 75 student/athletes. Unlike some other track and field programs which have separate boys' and girls' teams with their own coaches, the only thing that separates the boys' and girls' team at Harwood is the scoring at meets. With four coaches for both the boys and girls (Taggert Haslam, head/throws coach; Tom Strasser, sprints/ jumps coach; John Kerrigan, middle/long distance coach; and Eric Eley, sprints/hurdle coach) the staff and athletes consider it one team, training together and supporting each other. The concept of "one for all and all for one" is part of their success as a program.

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LADIES FIRST

The Harwood girls' finished their regular season with only two losses going into the Division II state meet. Since their back-to-back state titles in 2004 and 2005, the girls' squad has been in the top three at the state meet each year: runner-up in 2006; third in 2007; runner-up in 2008; and only three points from another runner-up in 2009. Very respectable finishes when considering the strong competition in Div. II.

The girls crowned three state champions at this year's state meet: freshman Naomi Koliba in the high jump, setting a new Harwood freshman and varsity record with a jump of five feet, four inches; sophomore Clare Miller won the discus making her the eighth straight Harwood female thrower to win that event, with more to come in her next two years; and junior Kayla Dillon won the shot put title giving Harwood the seventh out of the last eight championships. 

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The three state champions were supported by many others including senior Ally Bataille placing third in the 110 hurdles and she ran a leg on the second-place 400x100 relay which also had senior Kelsey LaCroix, freshman Nina Yandow and junior Paige Cleary. Paige also took fourth in the 100-meter dash. On the distance side junior Jillian Mendes placed second in the 3,000-meter run, while the freshman duo of Laurel Whitney and Olivia Nishi place a very respectable fifth and sixth.

The relays included a fourth-place finish by the 4x800 team, which had freshmen Liza Mackey and Hannah Woodruff, sophomore Jess Sweeney and senior Elena Bilodeau. The 4x400 team placed a strong third place with efforts from freshmen Nina Yandow and Brielle Bisceglio, Paige Cleary and sophomore Sophia Lasius, who also placed fifth in the 400-meter dash and fifth in the 1,500-meter run. In the hurdles, sophomore Shannon Maloney placed sixth behind teammate Ally Bataille in the grueling 300-meter hurdles.

The triple jump had its own story. Naomi Koliba who was seeded third could not continue due to an injury she received in the long jump putting the pressure on lone sophomore jumper Caitlin Touchette. Handling the pressure, Caitlin filled the void by improving her seeded jump distance by a foot to take third place.  Junior Amanda Haslam also competed in the javelin and shot put, sophomore Kelsey Shea competed in the sprints and sophomore Mariah Eilers competed in the sprints and hurdles. With strong underclassmen returning, expect the girls to be in the hunt again next year.

Harwood will be graduating three seniors: Ally Baitaille, Elena Biodaeu and Kelsey LaCroix. These young ladies have done an excellent job representing Harwood. The coaching staff will certainly miss their work ethic and bright smiles.

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BOYS NEXT

The boys took second to South Burlington on their season opener but never looked back after that, dominating Division II. Primed and ready for the state meet, all the coaches agreed the boys could not be better prepared. Led by a powerful distance group with support from athletes in all the events the Harwood Boys left no doubt it was their year to reclaim the title since their 2005 win. Outscoring the second-place Lyndon team by 70 points, they captured their sixth Division II state title.

There were six individual student/athletes and two relay teams crowned Div. II State Champions on Saturday, June 6. Leading the pack was senior Zack Pfister winning his third straight 110-meter hurdle title, the 300-meter hurdle championship as well as being a leg on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams. The other athletes on the 4x100 team include senior Trevor Cook, senior Dylan Peterson and junior Thomas J. Moore.

Setting a new Harwood 4x400 record were Trevor Cook, Zach Pfister, senior Eamon Welter and senior Eric Mackey. Powerhouse runner Eamon Welter captured his second state title in the 800 coming three seconds in front of teammate Eric Mackey. Two juniors showing their strength on the track were Tim Shepard winning the 3,000-meter run followed by second-place finisher Nick Wisniewski and supported by senior Sam McCausland coming in a well-earned fourth place. 

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It was the 1,500-meter run that had people's jaws dropped in amazement. Coming around the final turn of the event with only 200 meters to go, the field was led by three Harwood runners, Eric Mackey, Tim Shepard and Eamon Welter, followed by a runner from Vergennes. With 75 yards left Caleb Kernan with his greatest kick of his career passed the Vergennes runner to slide into fourth place. Harwood finished first, second, third and fourth, all within a stride of each other, a sight rarely seen.

It was not just on the track the boys excelled. Thomas J. Moore captured his first state championship title in the high jump, clearing the bar at a staggering six feet. Sophomore Thomas Fuller set the tone of what is to come from the Harwood throwers, placing second in the discus and third in the shot put. Although he did have the winning throw in the shot put, he unfortunately fouled his throw disqualifying that throw. He is part of what will be no doubt a powerful throwing team made up of all sophomores: Seth Naikus, a 42-foot shot putter, discus and javelin thrower; Zack Williams, a 130-foot javelin thrower, shot and discus thrower; and Chris Degray, a 39-foot shot putter, discus and javelin thrower. 

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Josh Kernan placed sixth in the pole vault with an impressive jump of 11 feet. What makes this an impressive jump is the fact that Harwood does not own a pole vault pit. His training is the meets themselves. Joe Meade coming out for his first year of track showed his talent by placing seventh in the state meet with a jump of five feet, nine inches. Nick Montgomery earned his spot at the state meet for his first time representing Harwood in the long jump.

Zack Munro, a rising star in the distance, ran in the 800 and will be looked at as a leader for Harwood next year. Senior Chris Camp, a longtime jumper and often assistant coach, competed in his last high school track championship along with 20 other boys. For many they have been a part of the program since middle school. There is no doubt these young men will be talked about in stories told by their coaches for years to come.

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