Beyond league dominance, the MVC’s top stars should also be the pacesetters on the state level this year.
On Monday, the first of three Merrimack Valley Conference dual meets will be held at Boston University, and like it’s been over the last decade or so, there’s a large group of athletes, who are not just returning as some of the best in the prestigious league, but also among the best in the entire state, New England and in several cases across the country.
The MVC has five of the top athletes from any other conference across the state with Lowell’s Richmond Kwaateng, Tewksbury’s Makayla Paige, Billerica’s Nicole Anderson and Andover’s Jodi Parrott.
Kwaateng, who will be headed to the University of Connecticut on a track scholarship, is coming off a winter season as a junior that saw him finish second in the long jump and fifth in the 55-meter dash at the NE Championship Meet. Before that, he was first in the dash and second in the long jump at the Eastern Mass Division 1 Meet, clocked at 6.40 and then leaping 22-3.75.
Paige was named the Massachusetts Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year as a sophomore last year. She was the MVC, Eastern Mass Division 3 and All-State Champion in the 600 and then went on to place tenth overall at the National Meet held in New York.
Her good buddy, Nicole Anderson, who will be heading to Vanderbilt University next fall on a cross-country/track scholarship, finished third in the 1,000 meters in both the All-State Meet and the New Englands.
Finally, Parrott became one of the best freshmen in the entire state last year. At the MVC Championship Meet, she was first in the long jump (18-01.50) and second in the 55-meter dash (7.46), then went on to the D1 Eastern Mass Meet and she placed in three events, winning the high jump (5-2), taking third in the long jump and then fifth in the 55-meter hurdles. She went on to take sixth in the long jump at the All-State Meet.
And while those athletes stole the headlines a year ago, the performance from the entire Lowell High boys’ team certainly didn’t go unnoticed either.
“Our team is the defending MIAA Division 1 and All-State Champions,” said Lowell head coach Scott Ouellet. “Although we were hit hard by graduation — notably David Ajama and Andrews Bonsu — we still return two of the best athletes in the state. Senior sprinter and long jumper Richmond Kwaateng and senior hurdler Sam Mutiso will be the nucleus of the team.”
Besides the previously mentioned elite athletes, there’s another large group of performers who are right on the tails of those four individuals. That group includes Lowell’s Sam Mutiso and Asaliah Mirambeaux, Central Catholic’s Katharine Duren, Tewksbury’s Zach LaLonde, Billerica’s Hannah Doherty and North Andover’s Sarah Lavery.
Starting with Mutiso, he really exploded onto the scene last year, especially in the 55-meter hurdles. After taking fourth at the MVC Meet, he went on to take seventh at the D1 Meet and then sixth at the New Englands. In the same event, LaLonde, was second at both the MVC and Division 2 Eastern Mass Meets.
Also expected to be near the front line of their events this season will include Billerica sprinter Stephen Harris, North Andover’s Matthew Chicko, who was the MVC Champion in the 600 with Methuen’s Anthony Fortuna right behind him, Central’s James Pothier, who won the mile at last year’s MVC Championship Meet at 4:33.96 with Lowell’s Joeben Jacobs taking third. His teammate Kelvin Santana is the reigning league champ in the two-mile coming in at 9:50.64 with Central’s Matthew Giannasca taking third.
In the field events, Jack Drake of Andover should be one of the top high jumpers, after he was second in the league, while James Pope of Billerica was fourth in the shot put at the Division 3 Eastern Mass Meet.
On the girls side, Lavery was one of the top high jumpers, including taking fourth at the New Englands, while she was first at the MVC Meet and then second at the D2 Eastern Mass Meet, where she cleared 5-6.50.
Mirambeaux, Doherty will return as two of the top distance runners around, mostly in the two-mile. At last year’s MVC Championship Meet, the top seven finishers in the mile all return this year, including champion Abby Mastromonaco of North Andover (5:28.19) and Deidra Anderson of Billerica (5:29.18), who is the twin sister of Nicole. Also, Courtney Dalke of North Andover, was third in the 1,000 meters at last year’s D2 Meet.
In the sprints, Billerica’s Leithsa DiManche should be among the elite in the 300 and same can be said for Andover’s Ava Trapp in the 1,000.
In the field events, Chelmsford’s Kathleen Dolan is coming off a fourth-place finish at the D2 meet in the shot put.