NASHUA — Going into the two-day season-ending N.H. Decathlon, Kevin Cheam had modest goals.
“I just wanted to enjoy competing with all of these great athletes and have fun with my teammates one last time,” the Pelham senior said.
Well, he accomplished much more than that at North and South High Schools in Nashua.
Taking home victories in two of his regular events, the long jump and the 110-meter hurdles, and adding a surprising finish in an event he never attempted before, Cheam bested 80 other finishers to take home the title as the state’s best overall athlete. He finished with 5,433 points, 152 points better than runner-up Shawn Case of Manchester Memorial.
“I was surprised that I led,” Cheam said of his first-ever time in the Decathlon. “I thought I was a good athlete, I just didn’t think I could compete with the others here.”
With top-10 finishes in seven of the 10 events, Cheam proved he belonged and even provided some surprises.
Save for the hurdles, Cheam never competed in any of yesterday’s events but pulled off a gem of a javelin throw. After a couple of wobbly practice tosses, he uncorked a missile that injured his throwing elbow but soared 148-10 that was good for second place and 520 key points.
Add on a ninth in the discus to go with his hurdles victory and the victory was locked up.
“Kevin has always been very talented but, over the years, his work ethic has improved tremendously,” said Pythons coach Don Mullen. “His dedication to himself and his team has grown exponentially. I’m very proud of him. The decathlon really rewards the best athletes of N.H., and it shows where he belongs.”
Also showing well was Pinkerton’s T.J. Urbanik, who finished seventh with 4,744 points highlighted by his fourth-place in the javelin (141-3).
In the girls Heptathlon, senior Sandy Guenther was the area’s top finisher, coming in 14th led by high-scoring efforts in the 200 (29.64), shot put (31-0), high jump (4-6).
Pelham sophomore Katelyn Surprenant came in 24th and Londonderry freshman Yorgelis Ortiz placed 26th.
“I never did the high hurdles before and I ran 19.55,” said Surprenant, who did low hurdles and triple jump for the Pythons. “Now that I know the three-step hurdles, I might try that next year with the low hurdles.”
“I’m also learning what our younger athletes can do,” Mullen said. “Lauren Anderson’s a sophomore who’s been competing in the hurdles and the long jump, but I learned that she’s a good javelin thrower (with a 79-foot toss). (Freshman) Skyler Goss qualified for New Englands in the triple jump but she broke 15-feet in the long jump here.
Mullen was especially proud that eight of his athletes decided to extend their season and take part in the challenging weekend.
“Having those kids volunteer and participate here, it shows that they’re growing to love the sport and the teamwork involved. We’ve rewritten about 80-percent of the school records in my three years, and what’s most important is how everybody helps out. Even the kids that don’t qualify to compete come to help out at our meets.
“My job is more than coaching track. We’re looking to create good teammates and good human beings, and I hope that’s the direction we’re heading.”
agateText:Top 5 and area placers (81 finishers): 1. Kevin Cheam (Pel) 5,433; 2. Shawn Case (Manch. Mem.) 5,281; 3. Will Merchant (Lebanon) 5,277; 4. Quentin Bazarnicki (Monadnock) 5,191; 5. John Lindonen (Merr. Valley) 4,939; 7. T.J. Urbanik (Pin) 4,744; 12. Brandon Hannon (Pel) 4,515; 13. Sam Webber (Pin) 4,500; 21. Mark Franklin (Pin) 4,180; 23. Erik Goulet (Pin) 4,110; 28. Kyle Couture (Pel) 4,046
agateText:Top area event finishers:
agateText:Pole vault: 3. Kyle Couture (Pel) 11-6 1/4; Shot put: 7. Kevin Cheam (Pel) 38-5 1/2; Discus: 9, tie. Cheam (Pel) 96-2; Javelin: 2. Cheam (Pel) 148-10, 4. T.J. Urbanik (Pin) 141-3, 5. Kyle Faucher (TIm) 139-1, 6. Bradford Kamal (Pel) 134-7; Long jump: 1. Cheam (Pel) 21-6 1/4; High jump: 1, tie. Mark Franklin (Pin) 5-10, 6, tie. Sam Webber (Pin) and Brandon Hannon (Pel) 5-8, 9, tie. Cheam (Pel) 5-6; 110 hurdles: 1. Cheam (Pel) 15.15; 100 meters: 4. Cheam (Pel) 11.79; 400: 12. Cheam (Pel) 55.00; 1,500: 1. Hannon (Pel) 4:20.33
agateText:Top 5 and area placers (72 finishers): 1. Emma Checovitch (Winn) 3,850; 2. Michelle Athanasopoulos (Monadnock) 3,810; 3. Rachel Hill (Somersworth) 3,807; 4. Letti Hibbard (Bedford) 3,733; 5. Jen Athanasopoulos (Monad) 3,626; 14. Saqndy Guenther (Lon) 3,123; 24. Katelyn Surprenant (Pel) 2,897; 26. Yorgelis Ortiz (Lon) 2,837; 30. Natalie Howes (Lon) 2,688
agateText:Top area event finishers:
agateText:Shot put: 3. Alana Eshbach (Pel) 30-1 1/2; Javelin: 2. Natalie Howes (Lon) 110-11, 4. Sandy Guenther (Lon) 96-2; Long jump: 6, tie. Skyler Goss (Pel) 15-2 1/4; High jump: 1, tie. Yorgelis Ortiz (Lon) 4-11 3/4, 3, tie. Jacqueline Greazzo (Pin) 4-9 3/4; 100 hurdles: 11. Guenther (Lon) 17.67; 200: 3. Ortiz (Lon) 26.73; 800: 22. Katelyn Surprenant (Pel) 2:44.29