Girls Div. I track and field championships: Pinkerton's Danis made a good choice

May 30—HAMPTON — When she started competing in outdoor track and field as a sixth-grader, Briana Danis wanted to be a hurdler.

Then Danis found a different event, which has worked out well.

"Originally I wanted to do hurdles actually, which was a bad idea because I kept twisting my ankles," Danis said. "My coach had me try discus and I don't remember how far I threw but he was like, 'You're a thrower now.' I was like, 'OK. I guess I'm a thrower now.'"

Now a sophomore at Pinkerton Academy, Danis won the discus title at the NHIAA Division I Championships Thursday at Winnacunnet High School with a program-record distance of 127 feet, 5 inches. Winnacunnet senior Morgan Kelley finished runner-up in the event with her throw of 111 feet, 9 inches.

Danis' winning throw came in the fifth round and her first-round mark of 124 feet, 9 inches, was a program record at the time.

Danis, who has set the Astros' record in the event at least six times this spring, wants to reach her season-long goal of 130 feet at the Meet of Champions on Saturday at Sanborn Regional.

"I've hit over 130 in practice. I was hoping to hit that (Thursday) but 127 is good enough," Danis said. "That's a meet PR (personal record) so I'm happy with it."

Pinkerton throwing coach Sherri Nourse has been impressed with Danis' performance this spring considering her inexperience. Danis, who did not know how to do a full spin last spring, trained on her own last year after the NHIAA canceled the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team was not allowed to do any lifting at the school this season, Nourse said.

Danis started this season throwing distances in the low 100s, Nourse said.

"I see her going a very long way in college and everything," Nourse said of Danis. "She has the ability to go very far in this sport. ... For her to do what she's done with so little, it's because she's worked her technique and she's gotten that down to a science."

Nashua North posted three individual field event champions on its way to capturing its first-ever team championship with a score of 83 points. Rival Nashua South finished runner-up for the fourth time in five seasons with 72 points, and 2018 and 2019 champion Exeter placed third (67 points). Bedford (55 points) and Bishop Guertin of Nashua (47 points) rounded out the top five.

Nashua High won eight state championships before the school split into North and South in 2002.

North swept the top three spots in the shot put. Senior Tori Conrad won the event with her throw of 39 feet, 7 1/2 inches. Teammates Natalie Burgess (35 feet, 39 1/2 inches) and Madelyn Novak (35 feet, 7 1/2 inches) took second and third, respectively. Novak also won the javelin with her personal-record throw of 123 feet, 4 inches, and placed fourth in the discus with a mark of 100 feet, 7 inches.

North junior Olivia Mazerolle won the high jump (5 feet, 4 inches) and placed runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles (46.75 seconds). Senior teammate Aliana Mercado took second in the javelin (114 feet, 2 inches).

Jacqueline Thompson, who coaches North alongside Renee Archer, said field events have been one of the Titans' strengths this season.

"It's great to have Nashua back on top," Thompson said. "It's been a long road coming. Missing out on last spring, it was nice for them to come out and achieve that."

South posted four individual champions. Senior Cali Coffin won the 3,200-meter run with her time of 11:21.73, freshman Soraya Ross won the 200-meter run in 25.74 seconds and senior Natalie Boyle took the long jump crown with a distance of 16 feet, 4 1/4 inches. Ross, Iyana Braswell, Mia Cruz and Madeline Stevens also won the 4-by-100-meter relay with a time of 49.98 seconds.

Concord freshman Ayva Mullen helped her team to a sixth-place finish by winning the triple jump with a program-record mark of 36 feet, 1 1/4 inches.

Bedford senior Carly Rinko anchored the Bulldogs' first-place 4-by-800-meter relay team and runner-up 4-by-400-meter relay team and won the 800-meter run. Rinko took the 800, which she said is not her favorite event because the second lap is "all pain," with a time of 2:20.24.

"It was really rough," Rinko said of the 800, which she finished seventh in at the 2019 state meet. "Definitely a lot of fast competitors so we were always clumped together. On the second lap right on the corner, I knew I needed to make a move. ... right on the second-to-last straightaway, I bumped up to third place and then it was kind of just from there (about) grit and who had it."

Kylee Quinlan was the lone individual champion for host Winnacunnet, which tied for sixth with Concord. The junior won the 400-meter run with a time of 58.78 seconds and placed sixth in the 800 (2:21.66).

Quinlan said the shorter recovery time between events because the boys and girls state meets were held on separate days due to the pandemic this year affected her in the 800. Quinlan said she had about 20 minutes between the 400 and 800 races on Thursday and usually has at least 30 minutes at a normal meet.

"I was really looking (to win) the 400 since I knew I'd be fresh," said Quinlan, who set the Winnacunnet program record in the 800 earlier this month. "I was hoping for an 800 win, too, but I was pretty tired at that point."



100: Taryn Naftali, Bedford, 12.43. 200: Soraya Ross, Nashua South, 25.74. 400: Kylee Quinlan, Winnacunnet, 58.78. 800: Carly Rinko, Bedford, 2:20.24. 1,600: Mary-Kate Finn, BG, 5:11.07. 3,200: Cali Coffin, Nashua South, 11:21.73. 100 hurdles: Sheridan McGadden, Bedford, 14.88. 300 hurdles: Sydney Lavelle, Exeter, 46.38. 4-by-100 relay: Nashua South (Iyana Braswell, Madeline Stevens, Mia Cruz, Soraya Ross), 49.98. 4-by-400 relay: Exeter (Clara Knab, Meadow Gregory, Sydney Lavelle, Autumn Agri), 4:06.84. 4-by-800 relay: Bedford (Fiona Lee, Avery Houghton, Emma Chisholm, Carly Rinko), 9:52.72. High jump: Olivia Mazerolle, Nashua North, 5-4. Pole vault: Sophie Hagymas, Londonderry, 9-6. Long jump: Natalie Boyle, Nashua South, 16-4 1/4 . Triple jump: Ayva Mullen, Concord, 36-1 1/4 . Shot put: Victoria Conrad, Nashua North, 39-7 1/2 . Discus: Briana Danis, Pinkerton, 127-5. Javelin: Madelyn Novak, Nashua North, 123-4.

Team scores: 1, Nashua North, 83; 2, Nashua South, 72; 3, Exeter, 67; 4, Bedford, 55; 5, Bishop Guertin, 47; 6, Concord, 44, 6, Winnacunnet, 44; 8, Portsmouth, 37; 9, Pinkerton, 29, 10, Londonderry, 23; 11, Merrimack, 20, 12, Dover, 15; 13, Salem, 8; 14, Manchester Central, 6; 15, Alvirne, 5; 16, Keene, 2; 17, Manchester Memorial, 1.