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May 30—HAMPTON — He might pass him,” the man standing on the grass inside the track at Winnacunnet High School yelled to no one in particular. “Yup. He’s gonna pass him. He’s gonna pass him!”

The man was right. Londonderry High School’s Matthew Griffin made up a lot of ground late and eased past a Spaulding runner just before the finish line to give the Lancers a victory in Section I of the 4-by-400 relay during Friday’s NHIAA Division I boys track and field championships.

Londonderry placed ninth overall, but Griffin was one of the meet’s top performers. In addition to his late kick in the 4×400, Griffin won the 800 in 1:54.57.

Although the Lancers finished fifth in the 4-by-400 — a race that had two four-team sections — Griffin, a senior, called it a satisfying performance for two reasons:

1. Londonderry’s 4-by-400 relay team, which included Will Plante, Tyler Kraft and Sean Clegg, posted its best time of the spring (3 minutes, 34.46 seconds).

2. Plante was competing in the event for the first time this season. He replaced Ryan Young, who usually runs the first leg of that race for the Lancers but suffered an injury earlier in the week.

“That was crazy,” Griffin said when asked about the finish to the 4-by-400, which was easily the most spectator-friendly event of the day. “I felt confident I could pass the Portsmouth guy, but it wasn’t until around 150 to 100 meters left where I realized I could gut it out and pass the Spaulding guy. I could see he was holding his head back. I literally got him with about five meters left.

“We were a little down going into it because we didn’t have Ryan, but once Will Plante ran a really solid first 400 we didn’t look back.”

Nashua North won five events to claim the team championship with 96 points. Concord was second with 60.33. Pinkerton (56), Bedford (47) and Exeter (44) rounded out the top five.

In addition to its win in the 4-by-100 relay (43.64), North received victories from Connor Dunning in the 200 (22.55), Jack Sulivan in the high jump (5-10), Jack Washam in the discus (134-0) and Lucas Cunningham in the javelin (164-9). Xavier Provost, Dunning, Isaac Smith and Curtis Harris-Lopez were North’s runners in the 4-by-100.

North coach Art Kobs said he didn’t expect his team to win the meet.

“No, I had us down by 10 to 15 points to Concord and Pinkerton,” Kobs said. “No hurdles, no four, no eight, no 16, no 32 — usually you can’t win that way. Overachieved.

“The whole team came. It’s a really tight-knit crew and they just feed off of each other.”

Strong individual performances were turned in by Exeter’s Michael Dettore and Concord Eben Bragg, who each won two events. Dettore prevailed in the long jump (20-11.25) and the triple jump (42-0.25); and Bragg finished first in the 1600 (4:16.95) and the 3200 (9:21.4).

Still, no one was more impressive than Griffin, who was chasing the Division I meet record in the 800. That record is held by Manchester Central graduate Matt Paulson (1:53.43).

“I wanted to win,” Griffin said when asked about his goals entering the meet. “I wanted to try and break the D1 record in the 800, which I didn’t do, but it was close.”

The top five finishers in each event advanced to Saturday’s Meet of Champions at Sanborn Regional High School. The MOC will also feature the top NHIAA track and field athletes from Division II and Division III.

It will be the final NHIAA competition for Griffin, who will continue his track and field career at Georgetown in the fall.

His goals for Saturday’s event?

“Win the 800 and then PR in the 4×4,” Griffin said. “I’m not satisfied, but I’ll take the win (in the 800) and hold onto it until next week.”



100: Benjamin Fleming, Pinkerton, 11:34. 200: Connor Dunning, Nashua North, 22.55. 400: Zachary Valhouli, Winnacunnet, 50.52. 800: Matthew Griffin, Londonderry, 1:54.57. 1600: Eben Bragg, Concord, 4:16.95. 3200: Eben Bragg, Concord, 9:21.74. 110 hurdles; Patrick McDonald, Bedford, 15.27. 300 hurdles: Michael Poulin, Exeter, 40.39. 4×100: Nashua North, 43.64. 4×400: Winnacunnet, 3:28.32. 4×800: Keene, 8:19.79. High jump: Jack Sullivan, Nashua North, 5-10. Pole vault: Nate Muller, Concord, 12-6. Long jump: Michael Dettore, Exeter, 20-11.25. Triple jump: Michael Dettore, Exeter, 42-0.25. Shot put: Jason Compoh, Nashua South, 49-7.75. Discus: Jack Washam, Nashua North, 134-0. Javelin: Lucas Cunningham, Nashua North, 164-9.

Team scores: 1, Nashua North, 96; 2, Concord, 60.33; 3, Pinkerton, 56; 4, Bedford, 47; 5, Exeter, 44; 6, Winnacunnet, 43; 7. Portsmouth, 38; 8, Keene, 34.33; 9. Londonderry, 32; 10, Nashua South, 24; 11, Spaulding, 21; 12, Salem, 18; 13, Merrimack, 12; 14, Bishop Guertin, 11.33; 15, Dover, 8; 16, Man. Central 6; Man. Memorial, 6; 18, Timberlane, 1.