Feb. 12—PLYMOUTH — The noise inside the Plymouth State University Field House late Sunday afternoon indicated that something special had just happened. The mixture of yelling and applause came seconds after Bedford High School's Anika Scott broke the state record in the long jump during the NHIAA Division I Track and Field Indoor Meet.
Scott, a junior, cleared 20 feet, 3 1/4 inches, smashing the previous record of 18-6 1/4 set by Exeter's Hillary Holmes in 2012.
"I was expecting to be in the 19-foot range," Scott said. "Honestly I was just incredibly shocked. Last season during the spring I was a little disappointed (with her performance), so to get this far after the work I put in ... it just felt so relieving."
Scott began her track and field career as a hurdler, and was coaxed into trying the long jump by Bedford assistant coach Emily Blahnik. Scott said when she and Blahnik embraced after the record-setting jump there was a lot of gibberish.
"We were both at a loss for words," she said.
Blahnik, who used to be Bedford's head coach, now specializes in the jumping events.
"I knew she could get the state record today," Blahnik said. "In the last week, her technique got a lot better.
"We knew it was going to be a big jump. No idea it was going to be 20 feet, 3 inches, but she was looking good, her speed's up, she has her mechanics down and she's a hard worker.
"She had tears in her eyes and said, 'Coach, we did it.' She did it. I didn't have anything to do with it."
Scott also set the Division I record in the 55-meter hurdles Sunday with a time of 8.07 seconds, besting the previous record of 8.21 set in 2012 by Bishop Guertin's Betsy Garnick. Scott's performance helped Bedford, the team runner-up last winter, win the girls meet with 74 points. Exeter was second with 54, and Pinkerton Academy came in third with 52.
Pinkerton won the boys meet for the ninth time in the last 11 championships, with 111 points. Bedford finished second with 72 and Nashua South was third with 46.
Scott is one of two athletes who established a state record Sunday. Manchester Central's Harriet Barber set the record in the 300 with a time of 39.59. Lebanon's Anna Cioffredi held the previous record of 39.87.
Blahnik, who coaches the jumping events, said Scott was clearing 13 feet when she first tried the long jump as a freshman.
"She's a quick study — and she's athletic," Blahnik said. "She wanted to win to get the 10 points for the team because she's a team kid. This is a big bonus."
Kearsarge sophomore Maelle Jacques, a biological male, prevailed in the high jump during Sunday's NHIAA Division II Girls Track and Field Indoor Meet, also held at Plymouth State.
Jacques and Somersworth's Savanna Comeau each cleared 5-2, but Jacques won the event based on the height of each athlete's second-best jump.
Last week, All-American swimmer Riley Gaines, an outspoken supporter of female athletics, criticized the decision to allow a biological male to compete against females in the Division II meet.
"How could the parents of this boy allow their son to cheat deserving women out of opportunities?" Gaines posted on social media.
"And why don't the parents of the girls stand up and say 'no' for their daughters? This country is full of failing, gutless mothers and fathers."
From the NHIAA Handbook: The NHIAA has concluded that it would be fundamentally unjust and contrary to applicable State and Federal Law to preclude a student from participation on a gender specific sports team that is consistent with the public gender identity of that student for all other purposes. Therefore, for purposes of sports participation, the NHIAA shall defer to the determination of the student and his or her local school regarding gender identification. In this regard, the school district shall determine a student's eligibility to participate in a NHIAA gender specific sports team based on the gender identification of that student in current school records and daily life activities in the school and community at the time that sports eligibility is determined for a particular season.
Oyster River won the Division II girls meet with 100 points. Kearsarge was next with 36, and Newmarket placed third with 28.
Coe-Brown prevailed in the Division II boys meet by earning 54 points. John Stark finished second with 52, and Souhegan was third with 43.
A matter of record
Other athletes who set division records Sunday:
DIVISION II BOYS
—Hanover's Lucian Gleisner (1,000-meter run), 2:26.62
—Souhegan's John Katsel, Cole Henderson, Brody Smith and Carson Behn (4x200 relay), 1:34.46
—Trinity's Rere Edokpolo (long jump), 22-1 1/2
DIVISION II GIRLS
—Oyster River's Haley Kavanagh (1,500-meter run), 4:37.14
DIVISION I BOYS
—Winnacunnet's Oliver Duffy (long jump), 23-5 1/2
DIVISION I GIRLS
—Merrimack's Alexis Best (55-meter dash), 7.23
—Bedford's Anna Ray, Grace Boll, Samantha Ducharme and Mikita Barry (4x800 relay), 9:43. 76.
Sunday's top six scorers in each event regardless of division advanced to the 36th Annual New England Interscholastic Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held March 2 in Boston.