Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough football secured a 2015 Division III runner-up finish to help highlight a banner year for the I-L athletic department. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 28, 2015MEREDITH – Happy New Year.
The year 2015 officially comes to a close this week, with the calendar flipping to 2016 and a brand new start. At Inter-Lakes High School, 2015 was another successful year. The athletic department saw great successes on and off the field, including several state titles and state championship appearances. Here's a list of our Top 10 stories from 2015 for the Lakers.
1. The year of Cam
MANCHESTER – If the hills truly do have eyes, they'd have a great view of Cam Daly pulling away from his opponents.
For the second year in a row, the Inter-Lakes High School senior made his move on the uphill section of the course at Derryfield Park in November. With friend and rival Dom Repucci of Hopkinton alongside for the first mile, Daly kicked it up a notch on the hilly second mile, pulling away for his second consecutive NHIAA Division III state championship. Daly's time of 15 minutes, 52 seconds was 13 seconds clear of Repucci's runner-up finish, and the total was 19 seconds faster than last year's winning time of 16:11.
"Just to win was the goal so to be able to do that again is obviously a great feeling," said Daly, who followed that up with a win in the Meet of Champions one week later. Daly owned 2015 overall, also capturing the state title in the 1,600 meters during the outdoor track season, and he was outstanding on nordic skis to help the Lakers to a state title as well. He'll run at Ivy League Brown University next year.
2. ILMA football plays for state championship
DURHAM – The Lakers saw their march towards a third state championship in program history come up short in November thanks to a never-relenting offensive barrage from top-seeded Newport High School. Tiger tailback Noah Wade scored five total touchdowns and rushed for 274 yards, as Newport captured the NHIAA Division III state title with a 48-14 victory over I-L/MA in the championship tilt at UNH's Cowell Stadium.
"Any mistake you can name, we pretty much made it," said I-L/MA head coach Jon Francis, whose team finished the season as the state runner-up with a 9-2 overall record. "We just couldn't stop the bleeding. We didn't have a defensive answer for their offense. It didn't matter if we put up a hundred (points), they were going to put up two hundred."
The championship game loss was the first in program history for the Lakers, which won their previous two title game appearances in 2009 and 2011.
"Their game plan was excellent," said Francis of Newport. "We were unable to execute, lost the battle at the line of scrimmage and that's the story. Their guys up front are very tough and they were able to win that battle in the trenches."
The runner-up finish came thanks to an outstanding win over undefeated Winnisquam on the road in the semifinals. It was one of the biggest victories in program history, propelling Francis' team to a state final.
3. Dillon Dow reaches 1,000 points
CLAREMONT – Dillon Dow nearly led his team to a playoff win. Instead, he settled for a personal milestone in his final game.
The Inter-Lakes High School senior guard scored 28 points, but the 18th-seeded Lakers couldn't hang on in the fourth quarter on March 3. As a result, 15th-seeded Stevens held serve on its home court for a 65-54 victory in the NHIAA Division III first round.
Dow entered the night with 998 career points, needing just two in the playoff tilt to reach 1,000. It took all of one shot to get that mark behind him, as he sank a three-pointer from the corner and head coach Mike Rathgeber called timeout for his team to congratulate the sharpshooter.
"It means the world to me," said Dow of the accomplishment. "To reach a milestone like this just shows that all the hard work I've put into this sport has finally paid off. I couldn't have done it without the support of my whole family, coaches, teammates, and especially my brother growing up. It just means a lot to be able to achieve something like this for them."
Dow became the eighth player in school history to reach 1,000 points. He was the first to do it in 11 years, when Jeff Carpenter reached the mark in 2004 (1,174 points). Michael Roy holds the school record with 1,335 points, a mark achieved in 1996, just six points ahead of Joan Pettengill's 1,329 points (1980).
4. Boys' 4x400 relay secures first track state championship
JAFFREY – It was never going to be easy. Winning the first state championship in program history never is. But on the strength of another school record-breaking performance in the final event of the day, the Inter-Lakes High School boys' track and field team earned the ultimate prize in May.
The Lakers used a late charge in the final three events, erasing a deficit and overtaking two-time defending champion Kearsarge with a win in the 4x400 relay to end the day and earn the NHIAA Division III state championship at Conant High School for the first time in boys school history.
"I've never been a part of anything so close or exciting as a coach," said I-L coach George Frost. "About two-thirds of the way through the season, we decided as a team and as a staff that they were really going to go for it and try and win a title. The boys pulled together and said 'We're going to try and put a banner in the gym.'
"We knew we had to finish in the top three (of the 4x400) and get some teams above Kearsarge," explained Frost. "I told the boys, 'You don't have to win this race.' But we still need some help."
Freshman Ian Daly ran the first leg, and he stayed right with the lead pack before handing off to senior Sam Otis. Despite suffering an injury several weeks earlier, Otis rehabbed and managed to get back to action in time for the state meet, and he powered through a solid leg to hand off to Cam Daly in third place.
Having already run 5,600 meters in competition on the day, Cam Daly quickly made his move. The speedster passed both Monadnock and Hopkinton to take first place heading into the final stretch, passing the baton to senior Trevor Colby.
It was all Colby in the last leg, as he never wavered or allowed the rest of his opponents to close the gap. When he turned for home on the final straightaway, the Lakers rejoiced on the infield as he strode across the finish line for a new school record time of 3:33.10 and the state championship-clinching victory.
5. Jeanne Puglisi captures high jump state title
JAFFREY – Jeanne Puglisi and Charlotte Morrow spend a lot of time together. They also spend a lot of time waiting.
The Inter-Lakes High School high jumpers stand up, sit down, put their warm-ups on, take them back off, all while clearing jumps and then waiting until the rest of their competitors are eliminated before them. Back in May, they shared an umbrella to block the bright sun from interrupting their rhythm.
As had been the case almost all season, the top-seeded athletes in the high jump looked around and saw only each other remaining. With the stakes continuing to rise, it was Puglisi's turn to step into the spotlight and she delivered. The junior soared over the bar to clear five feet, four inches, bettering her best jump this season by four inches and earning her the NHIAA Division III state championship at Conant High School.
6. Nordic ski wins state title behind Colby
GORHAM – Senior Trevor Colby captured the individual state titles in both the classical and skate races to power the Lakers to their second consecutive NHIAA Division IV State Championship held at Great Glen Trails in Gorham on Feb. 12.
The Lakers captured the boys' title with 774 points, holding off runner-up Hopkinton with 759 points. Profile was third overall with 703 points, barely edging fourth-place Moultonborough Academy (700 points).
7. Boys' tennis reaches state finals
MANCHESTER – While strong play down the stretch enabled the Inter-Lakes High School boys' tennis team to reach the state championship game, the journey to the finals really began a year prior for the upstart Lakers.
Despite a 7-2 loss to top-seeded and three-time champion Gilford in the NHIAA Division III finals, the Lakers ran through the postseason to grab some hardware of their own on June 4 at Derryfield School.
"I could see us (reaching the finals) at the end of last year," said senior Logan Goewey of the sixth-seeded Lakers' march. "We only lost our number three player at the end of the year and everyone back was strong so I thought there was a good chance we could make a run."
Indeed, Inter-Lakes (11-6 final record) impressed with its run to the championship. Veteran head coach Bill West, who last guided the Lakers to the state finals in 2010, also against Gilford, really saw his team's potential late in the regular season.
"(Reaching the finals) really didn't strike me as a possibility until we beat Monadnock last in the season," he explained. "We knocked them off 7-2 and I thought, 'Wow, maybe we can go somewhere in the playoffs.' Things started to really go places from there."
8. Girls' soccer wins finale over Kingswood
MEREDITH – Fittingly, Kaylee Converse was the one to put an end to a season of winless soccer.
The Inter-Lakes High School senior forward pounced on a failed clearance from Kingswood goalkeeper Emily Crew and broke in alone. With just 40 seconds left in regulation, Converse buried a shot into the open net to send the Lakers to their first win of the season, 1-0, in the final game of the year on Oct. 22 at Burrows Memorial Field.
"We've worked hard to get here," said I-L head coach Laura Bennett, whose team finished the season with a 1-14-1 overall record. "Win or lose, we worked hard, but to have them win made it a very nice way to end the season. I'm excited for the girls and it helps bring it to the next level for next year's team, being able to finish with a win."
While the team's senior class was honored before the game, it was not surprising that a member of the Class of 2016 would be the one to score the game-winner. Converse scored all eight of I-L's goals this season, coming in games against Somersworth (two goals), Laconia (two), Berlin (two) and Newport (one) in addition to the winner against Kingswood.
"She's definitely been our goal scorer this year," explained Bennett. "We've been trying to work on when the ball is kicked, follow it. When that play happened, Kaylee followed the first shot and when the goalie missed it, she was right there."
9. MAIL hockey returns to postseason
BERLIN – It's never easy to run into a team at the top of its game. That's the situation the Moultonborough/Inter-Lakes hockey team found itself in back in March.
The sixth-seeded Renegades made the long trip to the North Country and ran into a third-seeded Berlin-Gorham side that hadn't lost since January. As a result, the Mountaineers cruised to a 10-1 victory in the NHIAA Division III quarterfinal at Notre Dame Arena.
Berlin (15-3-1) closed out its regular season with 10 straight wins, dominating its D-III foes in the process. That included a 9-1 win over MAIL (8-10-1) back on Feb. 21, though the Renegades were the last team to hand Berlin a loss, edging the Mountaineers, 3-2, on Jan. 28. It was a nice return to the postseason for a MAIL team that hopes to make it two years in a row this winter.
10. Unified basketball shows flare for the dramatic
MEREDITH – It was a season to remember for the Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough unified basketball program. The Lakers, boosted by a late season charge, reached the .500 mark with a pair of buzzer beating wins back in February and March After a 1-3 start, I-L/MA finished just one spot out of the postseason, finishing 3-3 overall and tying for the 17th spot in the final NHIAA Division I standings.
"It was a great season," said I-L/MA head coach Jeff Cloos. "We really peaked down the stretch and you can't ask for much more excitement from the games than what we had the last few."
Cloos was assisted by the coaching staff of Kim Seitzinger, Katina Provencal, Anne Lloyd, Ashley Halsey and Steve Ippolito, who once again served as the team's motivational assistant. The late season charge saw the Lakers beat Laconia and Winnisquam in back-to-back games via last second victories. In the win over Laconia, Jason Parent stole the ball and Jacob Borsh hit a shot from eight-feet at the buzzer to send I-L/MA to a 38-37 victory. Things came to a close against Winnisquam, with Mikayla Sorell drilling a game-winning bucket with just four ticks left on the clock for a 31-30 victory. Sorell had 11 points in that win, including three three-pointers.