John Habib's Track & Field: Londonderry pair in spotlight
KEEP AN EYE on Londonderry's Starlin Ortiz and Patty Driscoll as the spring track and field season journeys into May.
During the winter track season, Ortiz, a sophomore, won the Division I indoor meet high jump event with a 6-foot leap. He posted his personal best jump at the Dartmouth Relays clearing the bar at 6-4.
In the early going this spring, Starlin leads the Division I pack with a 6-2 mark in the high jump. He's also listed fourth (16.1) in the 110-meter hurdles.
"He's a very good athlete," said Londonderry boys' coach Matt Smith. "I know as a youth he was into basketball and baseball and excelled in those sports. He's always had a knack for track."
Smith said the high jump demands focus.
"It's a technique event and you have to concentrate on your approach and work on the mechanics of getting over the bar," he said. "Not only does Starlin possess the skills to do those things, he has the natural gifted ability to jump. He has the speed, flexibility and coordination you need to succeed in the high jump."
Ortiz, who also runs cross-country, is the anchor on his 4 x 100 relay team and his coach sees him growing in the 110-meter hurdles.
"He's really starting to put it together in that event," said Smith. "Again, he's only a sophomore and he's going to improve his times and leaps as this season moves along."
Bill Newcomb, associated with Londonderry High since 1978 as its athletic director for 30 years (stepped down in 2000) and track coach for 16 seasons, said Driscoll has the leverage and height to be effective in the shot put.
"It's a coordination of legs, hips and a push from the shoulder," said Newcomb of the shot put. "Patty has done it well and she's going to get better as this season goes along. She hasn't peaked yet."
Entering today's action in Division I, Driscoll, a junior, holds the league's best shot put result at 34-6.50. She is fourth in the discus at 94-04, trailing leader Kirsten Herchenroder of Timberlane at 95-08.
Newcomb said Driscoll threw her personal best (37-5) for a second-place shot put finish during the winter season at the Dartmouth Relays earlier this year.
"That was a big feather in Patty's cap," said Newcomb. "Being a junior is important for Patty and other athletes in track and field. That's the year college coaches start watching the times and distances and Patty is certainly doing well for herself in the shot put and discus."
LAST FRIDAY at the Frozen Greenwave Invitational at Dover High, junior Emma Checovich dominated the meet and led the Warriors' girls' team to a first-place finish. Winnacunnet totaled 218 points, blowing out the field of Pinkerton Academy (90), Timberlane (70), Somersworth (65), Dover (52), Manchester Memorial (eight) and Portsmouth Christian (four).
Checovich won the 100-meter dash (13.53), 200-meter dash (28.00), high jump (5-0) and long jump (16-1.50).
Winnacunnet teammates Savanna Spencer (400-meter dash, 1:04.83), Mercedes McCoy (1600-meter run, 5:23.84), Meg Weiland (pole vault, 6-9) and Corina Chao (shot put, 33-02) were winners.
Pinkerton's Carli Davis won the 800-meter run (2:27.83) and Alexis Gray of Somersworth was a two-time champ in the 100-meter hurdles (18.05) and 300-meter hurdles (51.88).
Gray's teammates, Rachel Hill (triple jump, 36-04) and Miranda Gagnon (javelin throw, 119-11) were victorious. Kirsten Herchenroder of Timberlane captured the discus throw (95-08).
On the boys' side, Christian Seaver of Dover (100-meter dash 11.93; 200-meter dash 24.36), Shawn Case of Manchester Memorial (110-meter hurdles, 16.54; pole vault, 11-03), Drew Francouer of Somersworth (long jump, 19-04; triple jump, 41-04.25) and Niles Makarewicz-Connor of Winnacunnet (discus throw, 142-00; javelin throw, 144-11) were all double winners.
The 400-meter dash winner (53.17) was Chad Saint-Amant of Nashua North, the 800-meter run victor (2:02.65) was Tommy Harter of Winnacunnet and annexing the 1600-meter run (4:33.43) was Craig Hammond of Nashua North.
Three other winners were Addison Pratt of Somersworth (300-meter hurdles, 44.31); Alec Boucher of Winnacunnet (high jump, 5-06) and Mike Shanahan of Dover (shot put, 43-05).
Winnacunnet edged Memorial 119-118 for the team title followed by Dover (103), Somersworth (55), Timberlane (43), Nashua North (34) and Portsmouth Christian with 25.
THE DIVISION I regular season meets resume today. Highlighting the schedule are rivals Exeter (2-0) and Winnacunnet (2-0) clashing in Hampton and Londonderry (1-0) battling Pinkerton (2-0) in Derry. The Nashua North boys (2-0) travel across town to face rival Nashua South (1-1).
THIS WEEK Portsmouth is hosting its Clipper Relays on Thursday while Nashua South is hosting the Pauline Albert Invitational on Friday. The Salem Freshman-Sophomore meet for boys and girls will be on Saturday.
"Track and Field" appears Tuesdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at email@example.com.