The 38th Annual Capital Area Championships is set for Thursday at Merrimack Valley. With rain predicted, could the infamous “slip n’ slide” ascent out of the ravine in 2012 be repeated? One can always hope for a memorable XC experience like that.
In the tally of Capital Area titles, Concord boys have the lead with 17 titles. However, since their entrance into the meet in 1992, none have won more than St. Paul’s, with 12 titles. While it’s impossible to tell for sure from the lack of shared meets or courses, St. Paul’s and Concord appear fairly evenly matched. The public school (ranked #7 in the state) seems to have better frontrunners, while the private school looks to have more depth. An interesting side-note, St. Paul’s top runner, Marc Roy, is from Northfield (Winnisquam district), and at least one other is from Concord, giving them a distinct capital area flavor. The team score after those two appears to be a race of best of the rest, with Inter-Lakes holding the favorite status over Prospect Mountain and Hopkinton.
On the girls side, it appears that St. Paul’s is once again not sending their varsity squad, giving Concord the opportunity to try to improve on their winning 22-point performance from last year. While Concord graduated two time winner Smita Boesch-Dining, they return their next 6, who all placed in the top 10 last year. While NH ranked #2 Concord appears to have the top spot locked up, the battle for runner-up is tight. John Stark looks to have the advantage with strong pack running, while Bow is a very similar team and will be right there as well. Hopkinton’s results from the Pelham Invite show that it has overcome some of the depth issues that appeared at the Belmont Invite – could they take advantage of their front-running ability and sneak into the runner-up spot?
Individually, there are six returning boys from last year’s top ten, and nine of the top ten girls return, setting up a very quick and competitive race. On the boys side, last year’s winner Dom Repucci of Hopkinton will have to work to defend his title from Inter-Lakes’ Cam Daly. Concord’s Alex Saveliev and Pepper Smith (last years runner-up) look to be in the mix, as does Brady’s Warren Bartlett, Prospect Mtn’s Cody Symonds, Gilford’s Ryan LaFrance, and St. Paul’s Marc Roy and Reid Noch.
On the girls side, Hopkinton senior Sarah Nadeau is the top returning runner, but does not hold favorite status. Last year’s third place runner, sophomore Cassie Shea of Concord, has been tearing up XC courses around the state. Assuming that St. Paul’s star Samantha Yates does not race, Cassie’s top competition seems to be Merrimack Valley sophomore Kristie Schoffield, who will be out to defend her home course. Nadeau’s teammate Maddie Clark (also a sophomore!) will be looking for a top-three finish along with Sarah.