Central’s Barber, West’s Lauder earn gold at State track championships

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!


PLYMOUTH, NH — A day that began with near catastrophe ended in record-breaking triumph for Harriet Barber.

The Central High senior, along with her teammates and the Memorial High athletes scheduled to compete in the Division I State Championship meet on Sunday, almost didn’t make it to Plymouth State University, when their bus broke down on I-93. Thanks to fast action by Manchester School District Athletic Director Christine Pariseau-Telge and others, the Manchester athletes arrived at the George E. Davis track three minutes before the meet was slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.

Due to the late arrival, Barber and Memorial’s Chase Burris missed the ceremony to receive their All-State certificates. The All-State honorees were decided by a vote of Division I coaches.

The absence of their usual pre-meet warm-up routines didn’t do the Crusaders’ and Little Green athletes any favors But they overcame the challenge to make the meet memorable.

Barber had a spectacular meet, winning the state title in the 300 meters and setting new D-I and State records with a time of 39.59 seconds. She ran a nearly perfect race, besting runner-up Jhanelle Thomas of Nashua North by nearly two full seconds.

The previous D-1 record in the 300 was held by Grace Devanny of Concord (40.08, 2019) and the state mark was held by Lebanon’s Anna Cioffredi (39.87, 2007).

Prior to her record-setting victory in the 300, Barber had placed 3rd in the 55 meters in a time of 7.30 seconds. The victory went to Alexis Best of Merrimack, who set a new D-I record of 7.23 seconds. In an electrifying final, Best edged out Nyah Musa of Nashua South by just .008 seconds (8 0ne-thousandths of a second).

Barber also anchored the Little Green 4x200m relay team (sophomores Tianna Mann, Angela Cenesca and Ava Becker) that placed 11th in 1:54.53.

Division I Girls

Memorial’s Hannah Rodriguez had a strong meet, placing 8th in the long jump with a personal best leap of 16-0.5. She also anchored Memorial’s 4x200m relay team (Jordan Courter, Ayomide Sanni, Charline Jackson) that placed 7th in a time of 1:52.01, just one one-hundreth of a second out of 6th place.

The star of the D-I girls meet was Anika Scott. The Bedford junior won both the 55m hurdles and the long jump, while placing 3rd in the 300 meters. Her winning leap of 20-03.25 in the long jump destroyed the D-I and State record of 18-06.5 (set by Hillary Holmes of Exter back in 2012) by close to 19 inches. Her time of 8.07 seconds in the 55m hurdles set a new D-1 meet record.

Scott led Bedford to the D-I team championship (74 points), followed bv Exeter and Pinkerton.

Division I Boys

Memorial junior Chase Burris had to settle for a silver medal in the long jump, despite a personal best leap of 21-07.  It took a record-breaking performance by Winnacunnet senior Oliver Duffy to beat Burris. Duffy broke the Division I record with a leap of 23-05.5. It was one-half of a remarkable “double” by Duffy, who also won the high jump with a leap of 6-02. Duffy also placed 6th in the 55m hurdles.

Central’s 4x200m relay team of juniors Wyatt Fougere, Thomas Montminy, Sean Venator and Kaedin Gagne ran an outstanding race, placing 4th in a time of 1:37.23.

Memorial senior AJ Sebastien capped his winter season by placing 6th in the 55 meters in a 6.58 seconds.

Memorial senior Owen Davis competed in the 3000 meters, placing 10th in a time of 9:45.49. Davis had also qualified in the 1500 meters but did not compete.

Pinkerton easily won the team title with 111 points, far outdistancing Bedford (72) and Nashua South (46). Memorial was 9th with 9 points. Central was 12th with 4 points.

Division II Girls

Junior Eshaya Lauder may have been the sole athlete representing Manchester West at the meet, but she made her presence felt in a huge way. Barber took gold in the long jump with a best leap of 17-02.75, besting Maddox Lovely of Newport by 4.5 inches.

Less than an hour earlier, Lauder competed and placed 4th in the high jump with a best leap of 4-10.

Oyster River captured the team title with 100 points, followed by Kearsarge (36) and Kennett (28).

Division II Boys

Trinity may have had a small squad at the Division II State Meet but the Pioneers had a major impact.

Junior Rere Edokpolo captured gold in the long jump, setting a new Division II record with a leap of 22-01.5 Edokpolo also turned in a strong performance in the high jump, placing 6th, clearing 5-10.

Edokpolo’s teammate, sophomore Anthony DiGiantommaso, placed 6th in the long jump with a best leap of 19-07.5.

Trinity senior Nehemiah Oyaronbi had to settle for silver in the 55 meters in a time of 6.52 seconds. Oyaronbi was edged out at the tape by Tim Kelm of Portsmouth Christian (6.50). Oyaronbi also placed in the shot put, finishing 6th with a best throw of 41-05.

But Trinity wasn’t done. The Pioneers capped their day in the 4x200m relay. The team of DiGiantommaso, Edokpolo, freshman Brandon Roth and Oyansonbi placed 4th in a time of 1:36.64.

Coe-Brown won the team title with 52 points. John Stark was second with 52, followed by Souhegan with 43. Trinity placed tied for 6th with 24 points.



About this Author

Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 35 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.