Merrimack, Milford honored for academic, athletic prowess

Courtesy photo Merrimack's Abby Morgan, who was the 2019 Telegraph Player of the Year, was one of several Merrimack seniors honored by the NHIAA as Scholar Athletes.

More local athletes are able to take a bow.

Additional NHIAA Senior Scholar Athletes have been named, this time for Merrimack and Milford High Schools.

Again, to be named a Scholar-Athlete, the NHIAA guideline is the seniors honored have at least a B-plus grade point average, play two sports, and be viewed as a good community role model.

Merrimack’s female student athletes who were awarded Scholar-Athlete designation are: Ellie Boucher, Kira Brancheau, Kaitlyn Cota, Natalie Desilets, Megan Dinsmore, Demetria Gonzalez, Andrea Gustafson, Nadia Hackney, Melanie Hutchinson, Johanna Koroma, Abriana Morgan, Erin Murray, Anna Niezrecki, Samantha Page, Heather Rohr, Megan Senecal, Grace Sullivan, Katherine Super, and Allison Sweet.

Tomahawk senior male student athletes honored included: Joshua Barnard, Noah Clark, Nolan Cummings, Jared Dyer, Timothy Eckert, Adam Ellis, Eric Griffin, Jacob Hancock, Hayden Lawton, Max Lowell, Keaton Miller, Johnathan Paulhamus, Andrew Peyton, Scott Peyton, Carter Sherman, Zachariah Twardosky, Cameron Wilson, Steven Wilson, Devin Wood and Patrick Yudkin.

And the list gets even longer as Milford is celebrating its Scholar-Athletes as well. Spartan girl Scholar Athletes included Mykaela Cederberg, Lorelai DeMambro, Sarah Hill, Cora Holtshouser, Sydney Kolasinski, Robyn Krafft, and Sophia Renda.

For the Spartan boys, honored were Trevor Coyne, Kyle Forsley, Matthew Hannon, Sean Hanrahan, Samson Hodges, Michael McGuire, Cameron Mitchell, William Nichols, Joseph Shepard, and Gavin Urda.

It’s been a good couple of months for a lot of the senior athletes – other than the cancellation of their winter tournaments and spring seasons – as a lot of them have had their college plans set. For example, Urda will be part of the UNH football program next fall and Merrimack’s Dyer is headed to Holy Cross.

Coaching opening

A mild surprise in Division I boys basketball coaching circles came out of Bedford late this week when it was announced longtime Bulldog mentor Mark Elmendorf stepped down for family reasons.

Elmendorf had coached in the Bedford system for over 25 years, and one local head coach will miss him. That also happens to be the guy whose team beat Elmendorf in what turned out to be his final game as the Bulldogs head coach, Alvirne’s Marty Edwards.

“Mark and I loved to play each other,” Edwards said. “Especially when I was the BG JV head coach and he was the Bedford head coach. We’ve been battling each other for years.

“He’s been a very good head coach, has motivated his kids well and they always played well. They ran good sets and he always had good shooters. The kids really responded to him.”

Not only did they go against each other during the season, but their two programs competed in the off season, too. The Bronco summer and fall league teams lost to the Bulldog teams this past year, and then Bedford topped Alvirne in the regular season.

But while they say it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season (or combined season-off season) it’s even more difficult to do it four times. Edwards’ Broncos got their revenge with a 67-57 upset win on the road in the first round of the Division I tournament, right before the shutdown.

How’d they do it?

“I watch a heck of a lot of video, a lot of games,” Edwards said. “I saw the Bedford-Merrimack game, and I talked to (Tomahawks coach) Tim Goodridge. At the end of that game, Merrimack, which lost 56-50, rallied with some defensive pressure.

“We used a 3-2 zone press,” Edwards explained. “You back up, back up, and as they cross over half court, then you begin to trap. I felt that took them out of their sets, made them uncomfortable.”

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Alvirne’s Paul Manzi had a career game with 25 points and 12 boards. But in any event, Elmendorf, who decades ago was at Pelham, won’t be on the Bulldog bench.

“I’ll miss him, he was there a long time,” Edwards said.

Ironically, another boys hoop job is open, this one at Division II’s Manchester West, the school where many Bedford kids attended before the town built its own school. Don’t be surprised if former Merrimack, Bishop Guertin and Trinity head coach Jim Migneault, currently an assistant at Rivier University, throws his hat in that ring.

Mass. cancels

It was a foregone conclusion once Massachusetts schools closed for the remainder of the school year with remote learning only, but the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association made it official in the Bay State on Friday: No spring sports. The vote of the MIAA board of directors was a not surprising 16-0.