By JOSH KAUFMANN
Messenger Sports

ESSEX — Tre Sherwood, Carson Bianchi, Trent Holmes, and Trey Poquette brought some Route 7 speed to the track at Essex H.S. on Saturday, where the Milton, Missisquoi, and BFA-St. Albans sprinters swept their way to a half-dozen New England Championships qualifications.

JOSH KAUFMANN, Milton Independent
Tre Sherwood takes the baton from Carson Bianchi to anchor Milton’s fourth-place 4×100 relay run, earning a trip to the New England Championships. The two Yellowjackets also won 200-meter (Sherwood) and 400 (Bianchi) titles in the Essex Invitational on Saturday.

Holmes, an MVU senior, started the string of titles with a narrow win in the 100-meter dash, finishing a tenth of a second ahead of Peoples Academy’s Mikell McKenzie. The tight pack at the finish line covered just .36 seconds from Holmes to Poquette, who crossed almost simultaneously with Mt. Mansfield’s Silas Diamond (11.71 to 11.73) and nipped Marcello Souza of MMU at the line by 7-tenths for the last spot in New Englands.

Then Bianchi pulled out a similarly narrow victory in the 400, with the Milton senior reeling in Middlebury freshman C.J. Bryant as they came out of the second turn before pulling ahead over the last 50 meters. Bianchi, who will defend his Division II 400 title Saturday at South Burlington H.S., crossed first by 4-tenths of a second.

In the 200, Sherwood — already bound for New Englands with the Yellowjackets’ fourth in the 4×100 relay — finished off the local sweep in the 200 with the day’s narrowest margin of victory. Sherwood crossed just 2-hundredths of a second before Spencer Towle of Essex, with Poquette (5th) and Holmes (6th) each picking up a second reason to head to Durham, N.H., on Saturday.

“Carson did a sit-and-kick style race,” said coach Ryan Hayes. “During the season he has been getting out really well but he has had no one to chase. Because he went out more relaxed, he was able to chase down runners all the way to the finish. Carson is a smart athlete and has been very patient so far this season in terms of knowing that his fast times will come at the end.

“Tre raced to race. He gets the job done. They both run fantastic 4×100 legs in the relay but are slightly different style sprinters. Carson just keeps getting faster and faster during his races. Tre, after a few steps you can see the difference in his speed compared to everyone he is against.

“The 200 is perfect for Tre and the 400 is perfect for Carson.”

JOSH KAUFMANN, Milton Independent
Carson Bianchi surges past Middlebury’s C.J. Bryant 50 meters from the finish line to win the 400 at the Essex Invitational.

Missisquoi co-coach Jody Chevalier was equally pleased by the Thunderbirds’ sprint champion and his two top-six races in the biggest, and toughest, Vermont meet of the season.

“Trent Holmes started off the outdoor season in a bit of a rut, but persevered,” Chevalier said, “winning the 100 Saturday and qualifying for New Englands.

“This was not only his overall goal for his high school track career, but something he has wanted to accomplish for himself.”

Chevalier noted that the glut of championship-level sprinters along the 23-mile stretch of U.S. 7 only leads to better results, and included sometime partner Hartford’s Abayomi Love — who rebounded from just missing a spot in the 100 (where he was eighth after finishing sixth in qualifying) by earning spots with a third in the 200 and fourth in the 400 behind Sherwood and Bianchi.

“I am also proud of Trent Holmes, Trey Poquette and Abayomi Love for not only being great competitors, but also the best supporters of each other,” Chevalier said. “Watching the three of them during Indoor and now outdoor has been a great pleasure.”

The four local sprint qualifiers will be joined at the University of New Hampshire by four individual entrants and nine more relay runners.

Jacob Doe of Enosburg earned a spot through a seven-way tiebreaker to determine four of the six slots. Behind winner Tyler Muttilainen of Mt. Mansfield at 6-foot-3 and runner-up Owen Pelletier of Rivendell at 6-1, 14 competitors couldn’t clear the opening height and the remainder went out after making the 5-6 start.

Doe, Jacob Lacaillade of St. Johnsbury, Jackson Baker of Essex, and Jonas Merchant of Harwood needed just one try to make 5-6, neatly filling out the top six. Anthony Barbieri of Milton and Tim Hodges of Oxbow were relegated to a tough seventh-place finish for missing their first try at 5-6.

Missisquoi’s Hunter Tardy qualified by taking fourth in the long jump, Camille Hanna of Milton earned a spot in the high jump on a tie for fourth, and Emma Tetreault of BFA-St. Albans earned a trip to Durham, taking sixth by just over two feet in the javelin.

The Yellowjackets will send two relay teams to New Englands and BFA-St. Albans one.

The Bobwhites’ 4×400 team of Poquette, Matthew Dutkiewicz, Adam Forbes, and Beau Zawisza finished fourth, while Milton qualified its 4×100 (Sherwood, Bianchi, Emilio Desouza, Michael Outama) and 4×800 (Levi Yoder, Mike McNeil, and Zach Popke, and Michael Ferro) quartets.

The 73rd New England Interscholastic Track & Field Championships will be held Saturday at the UNH track in Durham.

Yoder and McNeil played a big role in getting the day off to a perfect start, each running his career-best 800 time on the first two legs of the first event of the New England Qualifier, giving Popke and Ferro nine seconds of extra cushion in the 16-team field.

“The 4×800 relay did exactly what I told them to do,” noted Hayes. “They got into New Englands using as little energy as possible. Levi ran about a 7-second 800 personal record during the 4×800. He and Zach may not be seeded 1 and 2, but when there is something on the line such as a team title, it is a realistic finish at states.

“Zach is shaping up more and more every day from being sick. After watching him at states this past indoor season, he is a championship-style racer. He is not going to be nervous or scared on the line.

“Michael Ferro had an awesome 4×800 leg and had a great 3000 (10th). He did not PR but he took a chance and went all in. He certainly was not 100 percent healthy and he could have easily just gone out relaxed. But he went right into the madness of the front pack and held on for about seven minutes. He is going to have a great day at states.

JOSH KAUFMANN, Milton Independent
Casey Langdeau clears a hurdle in the 300-meter race at the Essex Invitational.

“Every Milton athlete did amazing in my opinion,” Hayes finished. “No one had a bad day. Some kids wanted much faster times, but when you factor in the weather no results were bad.”

Freshman Anna Kaigle whacked 18 seconds off her best time in the 3000, and Carson Cowhig had a 14-second improvement in the boys distance run. Alexis Drown’s 1500 was her best by eight seconds, and more PRs were set in Essex by Haley Raftery (100), Josh Adams (300 hurdles), and Colby Allard (300 hurdles). McNeil also had a personal best in the 3000.

MILTON NEW ENGLAND QUALIFIERS
Tre Sherwood 200, 4×100
Carson Bianchi 400, 4×100
Camille Hanna High Jump
Emilio Desouza 4×100
Michael Outama 4×100
Levi Yoder 4×800
Mike McNeil 4×800
Michael Ferro 4×800
Zach Popke 4×800