Souhegan edges Milford for Division II track crown

Staff photo by HECTOR LONGO Abby Cranney and Souhegan need to win the 4x200 relay to lock down the state title. Here, the senior looks a bit behind, but after making up a 10-yard head-start, Cranney got the lean at the wire and the victory, the Sabers' second straight title indoors.

HANOVER – The two best girls Division II indoor track teams practice together daily. They are friendly foes in schools that absolutely embrace the positivity of the rivalry.

Sunday morning here at Dartmouth College, the teams turned track into big-screen style drama with Souhegan pulling out an epic two-point win to repeat over Milford for the NHIAA Division II state title.

The title was decided in the final couple strides – plus a darn good lean at the tape by Saber anchor runner Abby Cranney – in the final race of the day, the 4–200.

Cranney’s leg was the stuff that legends are made of, making up at least 10 yards on her Portsmouth opponent and willing herself by at the wire.

The fact that she’s not a three-season runner – she’s the state’s premier field-hockey goal scorer and a UNH-bound lacrosse talent – only adds to the lore of it all.

“We had never run against Portsmouth, and We saw (Milford’s Viankah Williams). She came back, and we were like, oh wow. Now we know what we have to do,” said Cranney, who was set up for greatness in the finale by relay mates Kayla Kilcrease, Hannah Rowe and Katie Noyes.

“I felt on the corner that I could get to her. I saw the finish line, I saw the girl next to me. I was ready to dive if I had to.”

And there were plenty of heroes in Black and Yellow.

If Elise Lambert was clearing only 4-10 in the high jump and grabbing third place, she did the exact correct thing, taking it out on her competition in the 600, gaining eight huge points for second place.

“The 600 was a big deal,” said Lambert, and you could tell.

Lambert also scored a title in the 4–800, combining with Jane Leighton, Marissa Romano and MacKenzie Hayden for the win.

“I had a feeling we needed to come together, I was just focused on points for the team today,” said Lambert. “Everyone did their job.”

To say Milford put up a Titanic challenge would be understating things.

In fact, the Spartans were penning a bit of a heart-warmer of their own.

Senior Rebecca Durham had already run in the 4–800 (fifth) and returned to run a courageous second place in the 3000 behind West superstar Julia Robitaille.

But this is the 1500, Durham’s calling card.

From the opening gun, Robitaille stalked Durham on the lead. And for every step of that race, Durham held her off in 4.42.82, winning by the slimmest of margins, .11 seconds.

Durham is not only fast, she’s tough as nails, proving it again on the boards Sunday.

Not to be outdone, her fellow tri-captain Viankah Williams put huge pressure on Souhegan’s Cranney, with an awe-inspiring anchor relay in the Milford heat of the 4–200.

Williams, who missed three quarters of the season with hamstring issues, made up a deficit as large or larger than Cranney faced and did it in style, setting up the amazing finale.

“We all love each other, we practice together, we’re cool with each other, we’re all friends,” said Lambert of the rivalry. “We had a feeling it would be close.

“Props to our 4–200 team, they really showed up. Abby put the hammer down. She crushed it, just closed the gap. It was amazing.”