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Big Red rolls in E/A grand finale

Successful spring season ends with plenty of reasons to celebrate against rivals.

By
Brian Muldoon
May 25, 2019
Phillips Exeter Academy Track Matthew Wabunoha

Matthew Wabunoha '20 helped propel boys track over Andover 100-45 with victories in the 100m dash, 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, and 4x400m relay. 

For a spring season that was filled with highlight performances and thrilling games — along with a trio of New England championships — it was fitting that the final day of the 2018-19 sports calendar featured much of the same. Exeter welcomed Andover to town for the final rendition of E/A Weekend,  while boys and girls crew were cruising for gold down on Lake Quinsigamond and boys tennis had a doubles pairing compete in New Englands.

Mother Nature fully cooperated for the spring finale that saw Big Red take home six of nine contests against the Blue, while four Exeter boats were medalists at the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Regatta, and Alex Mangiapane ’19 and Vinny Kurup ’19 capped their tennis careers with a third-place finish at the New England Individual Tournament.

Girls varsity lacrosse got E/A's spring edition off on the right foot under the lights in Phelps Stadium on Fright night. Marymegan Wright ’21 came up big for Exeter over and over again as she found the back of the net five times to power the Big Red offense en route to an 11-8 win.

Trailing 5-3, Exeter wrangled the advantage for good when two consecutive faceoff wins from Chandler Jean-Jacques ’19 led to goals from Tessa Shields ’21 and Wright. Peyton Sanborn ’19 added her first of two tallies on the night to give Exeter a lead they would not relinquish, and Big Red got a pair of key saves in the final three minutes from goalie Cammie Lavoie ’19 to hang on for the win.

Phelps Stadium was the home of two more Exeter victories, none more exciting than the boys varsity lacrosse matchup. With the score even at 6-6 with under two minutes to play, Exeter goalie and co-captain Devin McCabe ’19 made back-to-back saves and kick-started the Exeter transition offense that found Kerr Heidinger ’20 in front of the crease to pot the game-winner with just over one minute to play. The entire series was strikingly similar to Exeter’s game-winning goal over Andover last spring that saw Jack Pimental ’18 play the role as the hero for Big Red. Boys JV lacrosse also earned a win on Phelps, defeating Andover 9-4, while the girls JV fell to the Blue 11-9 in a nail-biter on Hatch Field.

The varsity baseball team, fresh off a Central New England title last weekend, could not slow down a late Andover rally and fell 10-3. Meanwhile, Carlos Jones ’21 and the JV baseball team used some late-inning theatrics to top their counterpart and split the season series. 

The day's near-miss for Exeter was in varsity softball. Trailing 7-1 in the bottom of the seventh to a superb Andover team, Big Red sent nine batters to the plate and scored five times to pull to within 7-6. The rally ended with an Exeter runner on second base.

Over on the track, Exeter boys and girls both earned victories over Andover, as the boys cruised to a 100-45 win while the girls gutted out a 74-71 triumph. There were a plethora of fast times and key performances, including in the girls 1,500m as Hanna Pak ’19 (4:58.25), Leila Herman ’21 (4:59.34), and Alexandra van Dijkum ’19 (5:02.80) swept the top three places for Big Red. On the boys side, the 4x400 relay team, anchored by Matthew Wabunoha ’20, who ran a 49.40 split, edged out Andover with a time of 3:29.59.

Competing down on Lake Quinsigamond, Exeter crew had an outstanding day of results. The girls second and girls third boat each earned gold medals with respective times of 5:30.20 and 5:44.48, while the girls first boat placed fourth with a time of 5:41.30. On the boys side, the third boat earned a gold medal when they crossed at 5:11.16. The second boat earned a silver with a time of 5:08.47. The boys first boat placed fourth with a time of 5:02.62 in an awfully tight race that saw places two, three, and four finish within two seconds of each other. Overall, Big Red rowers finished as New England runners-up on both the girls and boys sides — the girls finishing second to St. Paul's by just one point; the boys finishing four points adrift of Kent.

A spring to remember

Saturday's performances were an appropriate punctuation mark on a terrific spring season for Big Red athletics that was filled with success.

Baseball claims CNEPSBL title

Exeter had to fight through two tough opponents to land the program's fifth CNEPSBL title and first in 15 years. In the first game of the tournament, Exeter fell behind 3-0 to Worcester Academy before Big Red chipped away and a few timely hits evened the score at 5. Worcester would continue to threaten and loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and nearly reclaimed the lead when they smacked a line drive into right field that looked destined to be a hit. Owen McKiernan ’21 had a different idea, however, as he made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning and keep the score even. Big Red would manufacture a pair of runs in the seventh and keep Worcester off the board to earn a spot in the championship game.

Big Red wasted little time getting the offense going in the title game against Dexter, sending 10 batters to the plate in the second inning to jump to a 6-0 lead. Senior co-captain Oliver Bergeron ’19 kept the Dexter offense off balance all day with a dominant pitching performance and also connected for three hits at the plate to earn tournament MVP honors. Big Red is 17-5.

Volleyball's dominance continues

To say that the boys varsity volleyball team has been on a dominant run would be an understatement. In Big Red's streak of five consecutive banner-raising seasons, the team has rattled off 38 straight league victories and dropped just nine sets, amassing an impeccable 52-2 record.

Big Red rolled through the final four to land the 2019 title, scorching fourth-seeded Wilbraham and Monson in the semifinals 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-13) before downing Andover in the championship match for the second consecutive season, also by a score of 3-0 (25-11, 25-14, 25-14).

Senior co-captains Sam Michaels ’19 and Don Assamongkol ’19, who have been key members of the team for the past four years, led the way with their leadership and play throughout the season and during the tournament. Michaels kept the Big Red offense in high gear as he dished out 59 assists on the weekend, while Assamongkol was a key player on both sides of the ball, totaling eight kills, three aces and 13 digs. Cole Glennon ’19 and Preston Maccoux ’19 combined for 43 kills in tournament play, and James Keeling ’21 added 12 for Big Red. Exeter finished the 2019 campaign with a 12-0 record.

Cycling crowned NERCL champs

The Exeter cycling team sat in the first-place position of the New England Road Cycling League standings for virtually the entire season. Last week they cemented their place at the top as they captured the NERCL title on the Frontier Course at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Big Red powered through breezy conditions and tough competition to bring home the hardware for the first time since 2014.

Exeter performed at a high level throughout the entire lineup on both the boys and girls side. The Boys A squad of Bryce Morales ‘19, Jimmy Allen ‘20 and Owen Loustau ‘22 nabbed first place in the division, while James Wang ’19 and Mouhamed Gaye ’20 teamed up for a third-place finish in Boys B, and Joshua Lum ’21 and Ian Rider ’20 claimed second overall in the Boys C NERCL standings. Lum also ranked second overall in the Boys C individual standings.

On the girls side, Ashley Lin ’19, Meredith Goyette ’19, Lhamo Dixey ’20, Elizabeth Fier ’20 and Miranda Derossi ’19 placed second overall in the NERCL Girls A standings, while Emily Kang ’21, Aimee Hong ’20, Skye Newhall ’20 and Nicole Craighead ’22 also nabbed a second-place finish in the Girls C standings.

Track & field shines at Interschols

Exeter track and field enjoyed a successful trip to Interschols at Loomis Chaffee — girls snaring second place and the boys, third, in an always-competitive field.

Jeremiah Swett ’21 powered the boys side, as he amassed 24 of the team’s 71 points with a first-place finish in the discus (158-06 feet), second-place finish in the shot put (48-11.25 feet), and third-place finish in the javelin (151-00 feet). Matthew Wabunoha ’20 also had a spectacular day, winning the 300m hurdles (39.17) and finishing second in the 110 hurdles (14.33), where he was edged out of first by two thousandths of a second in a photo finish.

On the girls side, it was Numi Oyebode ’19 who paced Big Red as she earned a second-place finish in the shot put (38-7.5 feet) and third place in the discus (116-11 feet). Alexandra van Dijkum ’19 won the 3,000m (10:54.17), while classmate Hanna Pak ’19 finished second in both the 3,000m (10:59.17) and the 1,500m (4:52.16).

Click here for full boys and girls results.