UNH grad student Danielle Gajewski of Danville was named United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic. She won seven America East titles in her career and posted a 3.59 GPA in exercise science.
To qualify for the USTFCCCA honor, athletes need a 3.25 GPA and rank among the top 96 nationally in their event or qualify for NCAAs.
The ex-Timberlane great is finishing up her occupational therapy graduate work this year.
Gajewski’s career bests are 56.64, 400; 2:07.21, 800; and 4:55.11, mile.
MASTERFUL MATHIEU; SO LONG, KATE
Keene State senior libero Olivia Mathieu from Pinkerton was named Little East Defensive Player of the Week after compiling 70 digs over three matches at the Springfield College Invitational. ... The first big sports day of fall always underscores how some schools have great twitter games and many have really bad ones. ... Windham field hockey took a huge hit as superstar junior Kate Blaisdell, who already committed to Northeastern, transferred to Hanover. She scored 28 goals as a sophomore last fall.
TRANSGENDER COLLEGE RUNNER
University of Montana fifth-year senior June Eastwood, formerly Jonathan Eastwood, is the first known male-to-female transgender athlete to compete in an NCAA Division I cross country race. To be eligible, Eastwood, who previously ran for the men’s team (4:08.54 mile equivalent; 14:38.80, 5K), had to undergo a year of testosterone suppression treatment.
In the season opener, Eastwood placed seventh out of 79 runners with a 14:33.0 at the 4K Clash of the Inland Northwest Invitational.
BLACKWELL STEPS DOWN
Bill Blackwell has stepped down as Methuen’s baseball coach but will remain as the hockey coach. In three years, his clubs went 32-32: 18-6, 2017; 5-14, 2018, 9-12, 2019.
The 2017 team made the Division 1 North semis after MHS had 10 losing seasons the previous 11 springs. Our complete records go back through 1988, and 2013 was the only other club to make the North semis and the only other 18-win team since 1986 was 18-3 in 1989.
GRABER MAKES TOP 25 LIST
Kyle Graber of Andover, a senior at Pomfret, made the New England Soccer Journal’s preseason top 25 prep school returners list.
His dad, Phillips baseball coach Kevin Graber, is fired up, too. His incoming freshman, 6-3, 185-pound southpaw flamethrower Thomas White of Byfield, was named the top freshman in the country by Perfect Game.
SOME REAL HOCKEY TALK
I got a huge chuckle that my late boss, Hockey Hall of Famer (writers’ wing) Russ Conway, had a great friend named William Hockey. And William, like Russ, is a great businessman and a lover of auto racing.
He founded Plaid, “a technology platform that connects various applications with users’ bank accounts and has a growing presence in the mortgage space.”
Hockey wrote on Conway’s obituary: “Never forgot the 1st time I met Russ, I said my last name “HOCKEY” he said there is no way I was a Hockey. I said I surely was. I pulled out proof and he hugged me. From that time on we stayed very good friends.”
LAX FOR THIS PETROCELLI
It can’t bode well for baseball when lacrosse player Jordan Petrocelli of Merrimack (N.H.) High, the grandson of Red Sox great Rico Petrocelli, told the Nashua Telegraph’s Tom King: “My mom told me baseball was too boring.”
HILLIE FOOTBALL FAMILY
Haverhill High’s 10th-year football coach Tim O’Connor is fired up that a lot of his former players are in key positions in the Hillie program and the youth ranks.
Former Hillie stars with 1-AA college pedigree on the HHS coaching staff include Dan Burrows (UMaine ... not UNH!) and Michael Kwegyir-Attah (Norfolk State).
Former star QB Tommy Morgan is president of the board of directors of the 7th/8th grade Jr. Hillies Travel Team. Another ex-Hillie, Dan Tashjian, is one of the Jr. Hillies coaches.
Local favorite: Merrimack College volleyball team
The Merrimack volleyball team probably has far more locals than any other Warrior squad.
The team includes freshman outside hitter Taylor Sawyer from Windham; senior outside hitter Catherine Flaherty of North Andover (MC’s lone captain); sophomore outside hitter Natasha Vallis of Salem; sophomore middle hitter Sophie Meyers of North Andover; and freshman middle hitter Taylor Vartanian of Salem
The Warriors’ third-year head coach is Jeff Costa, the former Methuen High player and head coach. In the spring, he’s an assistant at Windham High.
That’s great news for the local volleyball scene. What was awful news was UMass Lowell pulling the plug on its program after last fall.