BG, Souhegan challenging for swim titles this weekend

Granite State high schoolers will be splashing into the University of New Hampshire’s Swazey Pool throughout the weekend. A few local teams, plus individual swimmers and divers, have a chance to make major waves in Durham.

The championships start at 6 p.m. Friday when the divers converge on the UNH campus, with each athlete performing six dives to open the weekend competition. The top six-to-eight scorers will then move on to Saturday, when they will perform five more dives halfway through the swimming portion of the meet. Division I swimmers will take over the pool between 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, while Division II swimmers compete between 4:30-9 p.m. The top six qualifiers from each event (individual and relay) in both the Division I and Division II Championships will qualify for Sunday’s Meet of Champions at UNH. Diving will also open that event at 1:30 p.m.

To get into the Meet of Champions, swimmers must first conquer the competition Friday and Saturday. Bishop Guertin and Souhegan have the strongest entries for boys and girls teams in Division I and II, respectively.

DIVISION I

The BG boys look to be in a tight race to the top with defending champion Exeter and a deep Bedford squad, which finished third last season behind the runner-up Cardinals, who were dethroned after winning four straight crowns.

Like the boys team, BG’s girls, who also finished second last season, are in a three-way battle for the top spot along with defending champion Dover and Bedford, which like its boys team also finished third last season. Even last season’s fourth-place team, Exeter, isn’t far off the pace.

“This is going to be a very tight meet,” Cardinals head coach Brendan McLaughlin said. “It’s going to be exciting for the spectators and nerve-wracking for the coaches and athletes.”

The BG boys are led into the pool by Joseph Moleski, who owns the fastest seed time in the 50-yard freestyle (22.60 seconds) and is fourth seed in the 100 free; David Pfeifer, who holds the record for six- and 11-dive total scores; and their relay foursomes in the 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle – which have included Vadim Beliak, Brett Seeley-Hacker, Jack Olsen, Brandon
Conceicao, Kendrick Rubino and Kurt Iske over the course of the season. BG’s girls are led by diver Veronica Mack, who is in a one-on-one battle with former club teammate Rachel Byrne of Bedford for the top spot off the board; and their group of strong relay and individual swimmers – Kerry McCann, MacKenzie Sweeney, Anastasiya Ausiannikava, Jane Winarta, Katie Mahoney and Caroline Shusta.

The Cardinals aren’t alone in talented locals taking to the pool in Division I action. Alvirne’s Lauren Somers, (top seed in girls 50- and 100-yard free), Mikayala Sintiris (second seed in girls 200- and 500-yard free) and Hailey Boulia (third seed in girls diving); Nashua North’s Oliver French (second seed in boys 500-yard free, third seed in 200-yard free); Nashua South’s Shantelle Richards (third seed in girls 100-yard free); Merrimack’s Katherine Brennan (second seed in girls 100-yard backstroke, third seed in 200-yard free) will all challenge for individual titles on Saturday.

DIVISION II

The Sabers will be in a tight three-team race for the championship of their own in Division II on Saturday.

Souhegan, Oyster River and St. Thomas are fighting for the top spot in boys and girls action, with Hollis Brookline, Windham and Milford making some noise.

Defending girls champion Oyster River appears to have the advantage in its attempt to repeat, with the top four seeded divers.

“That’s 50 points right there,” said Souhegan head coach Jim Rezzarday of the Bobcats diving depth. “It’s a big hole to dig out of. That leaves us an St. Thomas fighting for second with a chance to steal first if something big happens.”

Souhegan’s girls team is led by Jamie Freud, Margaret Dean, Jess Redd, Mary Rego, Emma Estabrook, Tam Morley and Liz Lapsley.

Freud is set to break the school record in the 200-yard IM and is the second seed in the 100-yard free. Dean is tied with four other girls for the top spot in the 50-yard free, while second in the 100-yard butterfly. Souhegan’s 200-yard medley, 400-yard free and 200-yard free relays are all Top 5 seeds.

With no divers on the boys side, it’s all about the swimming. The Sabers may have the edge there. Led by Alex Bedard, Alex McNally, Tyler Howard, Tom Lipkin, Garret Earley, David Kibbie and Drew Whitney.

Bedard is the top seed in the 200-yard IM and 100-yard breaststroke, while Howard is top seed in the 500-yard free and will challenge in the 200-yard free and McNally is expected to fight for wins in the 100-yard butterfly and 500-yard free.

The Sabers’ 400-yard free and 200-yard free relays are seeded first , while their 200-yard medley foursome is seeded second behind Hollis Brookline.

“With all the hard work these kids have put in,” Rezzardy said, “the champs will be whoever swims the smartest and is the fastest and strongest team in the water. I am very excited with the team and am looking forward to Saturday.”

Other locals swimming toward individual titles include: Campbell’s Michael Douglas (second seed in boys 200-yard free and fourth in 100-yard free) and Grant Levasseur (second seed in boys 100-yard backstroke); Milford’s Kaitlyn McManus (Top 5 in girls 200-yard IM and 100-yard breaststroke); Hollis Brookline’s Tom Regan (Top 5 in boys 50-yard free and 100-yard butterfly), Matt Falcone (second seed in boys 100-yard breastroke) and Austin McCalmont (seeded third in boys 100-yard breastroke).

Gymnasts flip into Salem for State Meet

Salem High School will be the site for high school gymnasts and gymnastics enthusiasts Saturday. The school’s upper gym will be the host venue for the 2013-14 Gymnastics State Meet, which is split into morning and afternoon sessions.

Local teams competing in the 10 a.m. morning session are Nashua North, led by Katrina Gabeau and Bryanna Gue; Alvirne; Souhegan, led by Sydney French and Hannah Johnson; and Hollis Brookline, led by Abby Fitzpatrick. Also competing at that time will be independent gymnasts from Campbell (Marra and McKenna), Milford (Shannon Kolasinski and Brittany Lusczyk), Merrimack (Taylor Duckworth and Sarah Jones) and Wilton-Lyndeborough (Meghan McClure).

The afternoon session, which begins at 2, consists of local entries from Nashua South, led by Katlyn Maloney and Abby Guilfoil; and Bishop Guertin, led by Carolyn Nichols and Deanna Poirier.

The overall awards ceremony will follow the afternoon session.

Titan Toss a success

Just when it appeared nobody was going to sink that $300 shot, Nashua High School North freshman Steve Lambert drained a rebound putback from half court.

The Nashua North Athletic Boosters organization gave spectators of Tuesday’s North-South boys/girls varsity basketball doubleheader a chance to win some cash by participating in the first Titan Toss Hoop Shoot Contest during halftime of each game.

Tickets to participate in the four-shot challenge were $5 each. Contestants had to hit a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shot in 30 seconds to win the prize money. With no winners during halftime of the boys game and time winding down during the break in girls’ action, it appeared a shutout was in order. Until Lambert took his turn.

He hit the layup, free throw and 3-pointer with no problem. Then his half-court heave hit the backboard and sprung right back to him. The lucky bounce allowed him to sprint back beyond mid-court and fire off another desperation shot at the buzzer that fell through and the crowd erupted.

“After I made my first three, I was thinking I have this,” Lambert said. “Then I shoot from half court and it was all backboard. I got it back for the second time and just let it go. I don’t even know how deep I was, but with one second left I had to let it fly.

“I think that rebound I was able to get off the first shot helped me a lot. There is no way I was getting back to half court for another chance if it didn’t bounce back out to me like that.”

Varsity career win No. 1 for coach Peaster

Nashua High School North girls varsity basketball coach Ricky Oliver sure knows how to pick ’em.

The Titans mentor was unable to attend Tuesday night’s North-South clash due to a death in the family, leaving his team in the capable hands of junior varsity head coach Derrick Peaster.

The Titans improved to 9-3 on the season with a 56-32 home win over the Panthers in Game 2 of the boys/girls basketball doubleheader. That ninth win was a big one for Peaster.

Thanks to a game-high 19-point performance by Ali Nelson, Peaster, who has been a sub-varsity coach under Oliver for eight seasons (four each with freshmen and JV), recorded his first win as a varsity head coach.

“It’s nice to think about,” Peaster said, “but this is Ricky’s team. I just filled in for a night and the girls did the hard part.

“I know what he wants to get done, and he knows I won’t stray from his game plan and philosophy. So we went out there and put it together like any other game, as if Coach Oliver was here, and the girls did everything I asked of them.”

Nine more Cardinals sign NLI’s

Bishop Guertin had another signing day for many of its athletes who have finalized their decision on the college of their choice.

The student-athletes in attendance at the most recent event were: boys lacrosse players John Karanasios (St. Michaels College), John Miller (St. Michaels College) and Jake Sonberg (St. Michaels College); track and cross country runners Molly McCabe (Boston College), Amy Vegliante (Sacred Heart University) and Rob DeSisto (New York University); Patrick Flathers (Dartmouth College) for football; swimmer Brett Seely-Hacker (Dartmouth College); and diver David Pfeifer (Harvard University).