2014 NHIAA DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW!


Derryfield Park will once again be the center of the New Hampshire Cross Country universe when the NHIAA conducts the Division Championships this Saturday. Below are the previews to all six races in the order they will compete.   Look for Live Twitter Updates during the meet!  Look for Recaps, Post Race Interviews and Race Videos after the meet, over the weekend!

Event Information Link to LancerTiming


Division 1 Girls

Saturday will begin with the Division 1 Girls race which should be quite the competitive race.  There are 8 Division 1 girls teams ranked in the Top 10 in the state and all of them have yet to compete against each other.   The top 4 teams, Concord, Winnacunnet, Bishop Guertin, and Pinkerton Academy haven’t run against each other with full teams yet, so Saturday will be the ultimate test.

By virtue of their season performances, and most recent, dominating win at the Capital Area championships, Concord seems to have the edge. They have the front runner in Cassie Shea, who seems to be perpetually in the 18’s, and the pack, with a less than 20 second spread from their #2 to their #5.

Pinkerton seems to be a bit of a mirror image to Concord with Morgan Sansing up front challenging for the individual title and a strong pack in tow.  It will all depend on how their #2-5 measures up vs. Concord.

In recent years Winnacunnet seems to show up in full force at Derryfield.  This year’s Manchester Invitational was no different.  They typically run in a strong pack, and that can bode well at Divisionals.  Speaking of packing, Bishop Guertin seems to be able to employ that tactic every race.  The question is, how far up can that pack finish?  If they peak right, they could steal the whole thing.   A tough call, if any of the above have a good day, they are in the mix to win.

The next four teams, Merrimack, Exeter, Central, and Londonderry have gone back and forth as well, but should be the remaining teams continuing on to Meet of Champions.  If anyone is to break into this group, Nashua North has had flashes this year.

Individually, Exeter’s Shannon Murdock’s 17:53 from Brown Invitational this weekend, cannot be ignored so she seems to be the favorite on paper.  However, Morgan Sansing did have the fastest Division 1 time at Manchester Invitational and has continued to run very strong.  Then you have Cassie Shea of Concord, this year’s top candidate for NH’s most improved.  One would think though that both Sansing and Shea would have to open up a gap on Murdock to have a shot at winning.

After these three, look for Gaughan (Exeter), Vaillancourt (PA), Winship (Bedford), Harris (Central) and Ntengeri (BG) to be the next D1 harriers crossing the finish line.

 


 

Division 1 Boys

New Hampshire #1 since September, Pinkerton is undefeated versus all NH competition and with big wins at Manchester Invitational and Catholic Memorial seems to be the overwhelming favorite to win both Division 1 and Meet of Champions next week.  Not only do they have a tight pack, with a 30 or so second pack time, but their group is fast.  A great indicator of a strong team is when their group can be interchangeable, which Pinkerton seems to have.  This begs the question can they finish in the top 3 at New Englands?   

After PA, Timberlane has done an amazing job at keeping their cards close to their chest. Maybe they’re better than they appear because there isn’t a lot of data to work with; however their 5th place finish in the Race of Champions at Wickham Park Invitational was quite impressive.  They have been NH #2 for most of the year, expect them to be challenging for the podium.

From there, Londonderry looks like a great pick for 3rd because of their consistent pack running and performances at the large invitationals this season (Manchester and Manahattan) but it seems wide open after that depending upon which team has the best day.  Alvirne has great leadership and can build momentum quickly, which Concord is talented but young with 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores in their top 7.  Nashua North is currently not ranked but with how they ran at Catholic Memorial (especially their freshman) they very well could be heading to the Meet of Champions.

On the individual side, by virtue of his consistently fast season, most recently his 15:39 clocking at the Brown Invitational this past weekend, Justin Carbone (Exeter) is the guy to beat, but after that it gets pretty murky. Scott Daly from Bedford and Liam Kimball from Timberlane have both been running extremely well this season. Abram Gagnon of Central is another one you have to watch as he looked great at the Manchester Invite. Guessing it’ll look like Carbone, Daly, Gagnon, Kimball.

 


Division 3 Girls

While making a prediction about the Division 3 boys Championships is risky, predicting the girls race is even tougher. The top team from the Manchester Invite (Monadnock) and the top finishers in the small school race (the Gardner sisters of Fall Mountain) have all been invisible most of the season.  Monadnock, with Kayla Blair at the front, finished second at the CVC’s a week back, beating everyone but Hanover, however the CVC teams aren’t particularly strong this year and Fall Mountain, while scoring as a team, were without the Gardners.

White Mountains with the frontrunning of Jessica Schanlaber and Alex Curtis should be in the mix as well. White Mountains finished as the highest ranking D3 team at the Belmont Invite and seem to be improving as the season rolls along.  Behind these two is a young squad and if they can group together, they may be able to sneak into one of the top spots.

Bow, was second in D3 last year and seem poised to perform at the top of the division again. Led by Sohani Demian, Olivia Krause and Dominque Biron, the Falcons finished second to Kennett at the John Sanborn Invite at Plymouth a couple weeks ago.  If they can close the gap back to their fifth, they should be in contention as well.

The Hopkinton Hawks are perpetually among the top Division 3 teams in the state. Going back it would take you a few years and then some to a time when Hopkinton wasn’t either winning D3’s or in the top two (last time Hopkinton didn’t win was 2006.)  Hopkinton hasn’t had it easy this season like we’ve seen in the past, with the split back their #4 as the biggest crack in the armor.  However, it would be a mistake to count them out as they always seem to run their best come the end of October and know how to win.  And with two of the best at the front in Sarah Nadeau and Maddie Clark, it would be premature to rule the Hawks out.

So I think one of these four teams will be your champion. Course conditions, temperatures and individual runners on other teams stealing scoring spots could greatly influence the results as well.

Rounding out the top five teams will likely come from Derryfield, Prospect Mountain, Gilford or Kearsarge. Left out of the conversation has been Fall Mountain as they haven’t seemed to run a full squad behind the Gardner sisters.  If they’re running with a team, they should be in the mix as well.

Individually, we should see a nice battle up front. Casey Hecox who won convincingly at Belmont ahead of MV’s stalwart Kristie Schoffield would seem to be in the driver’s seat, looking to bookend her high school career with the win.  But it would be a mistake to ignore Sarah Nadeau, the returning champ, or her teammate Maddie Clark.  The Gardner girls sandwiched Hecox at Manchester this year with Faith just ahead and Hope just behind, and if running, should be in the mix.  And we have Schanlaber and Curtis of White Mountain looking to spoil the party.  Which of those will win?  Tune in this Saturday.  Rounding out the top ten should be the trio from Bow (Demian, Krause, Biron), Kayla Blair of Monadnock and Emily Calder of Hopkinton.

Division 3 Boys

Making predictions about what will happen in a cross country race is like trying to predict the weather in New England. You can do it, but you’ll probably be wrong.

This season, in Division 3 it has been difficult to winnow the seed from the chafe as many of the top teams either didn’t race much against in division competition or their results were not available to analyze. So this analysis is based off preseason expectations and the little information out there to glean.

Mascenic topped the preseason polls as the top Division 3 team, based on the returning athletes from the Meet of Champions performances. Returning everyone from a very “green” squad that saw no loss to graduation and a solid 2014 track season made them the seeming favorite.  They completed an undefeated season, something they had never done in any of their previous SC bids, however due to some scheduling glitches, their schedule could be considered a little soft.

Looking through the results of the bigger meets, we’ll do our best to narrow the field.

In the Gilford Early Bird meet to start the season, the Derryfield boys got off to a good start, showing they are much improved and ready to challenge for that top spot in Division 3. They won over InterLakes by 18 and Hopkinton by 22.

2013 avery in pusuit scAnd again at the Manchester Invitational, the Derryfield boys squad had the highest finish of any D3 team entered, however that might not mean much as many of the D3 teams no longer run Manchester. However, in doing so, and with Patrick Richmond running in the freshman race, they beat Monadnock, last year’s number 2 team.  It would seem Derryfield gets the nod over Monadnock.

The day before Manchester, at the Waterville Valley Invite, InterLakes won decisively over Kennett and Prospect Mountain, putting 50 points between them and the TimberWolves. And with Cam Daly and Trevor Colby out in front, they get the nod over Prospect Mountain.

At Belmont a week later, Mascenic without the services of Tim Fafard, won by 56 points over Derryfield and by 63 over Prospect Mountain, however Derryfield was also missing #1 man Sam Richmond to a college visit. Five days later, with Fafard back but missing the Traffie boys, and Richmond back for Derryfield, Mascenic again won out over Derryfield in a shoot out where 10 of the first 12 were from those two schools.

The day after Belmont, the Lakers took to the hills of Thetford, with Cam Daly running well. While there was solid competition from many of the Vermont teams, it would be hard to compare performances across the Connecticut River.  The Lakers ran well just this past Friday at the Capital Area championships, finishing 3rd behind Concord and St. Paul’s, beating Hopkinton by a bunch in the process.  With Cam Daly and Trevor Colby out front and the improvement seen over the season the results are strong enough to establish InterLakes as a solid team ready to make some noise in late October.

So how will all of this shake out? If Mascenic is at full force they should be the team to beat.  With Fafard and Traffie out front, and the depth of their supporting cast possibly allowing for four in the top fifteen, Mascenic should be in the driver’s seat.  However, if there is a shake up in their line up, expect Derryfield and InterLakes to be there challenging for that top spot.  Rounding out the top five will likely be two of these three:  Prospect Mountain, Monadnock and Hopkinton.

Individually, expect a battle between Dom Repucci of Hopkinton, Cam Daly of InterLakes and Tim Fafard of Mascenic. In a battle for top ten expect to see Avery Traffie, Jackson Whitehouse and Jake Movsessian of Mascenic, Ryan LaFrance of Gilford, James Elmour of Monadnock, Cody Symonds of Prospect Mountain, Trevor Colby of InterLakes, Warren Bartlett of Bishop Brady and Sam Richmond and Patrick Finocchario of Derryfield.


 

Division 2 Girls

Over the last four years Division II has been represented at the Meet of Champions every year by Coe-Brown, Hanover, Souhegan, and Hollis-Brookline. Out of current DII schools only Oyster River has been more than once in that time with three trips (Bedford did qualify twice before moving up to DI). 2014 may shake things up a bit…or not. After the top two spots it looks to be a tight fight for the remaining 4 spots to extend the season.

Coe-Brown is once again the favorite to extend it’s streak of titles to five. With the Black Bears essentially a lock to repeat, it will be interesting to see what else it can accomplish along the way. A third straight year with 26 or fewer points? A third straight year of all five runners in the top ten? And the inevitable question of how will their team average compare with Coe-Brown version 2013 or Hanover version 2007, each of which went on to represent DII at NXN? One thing for sure, it will be a lot of fun to watch this team challenge some of the nation’s best at New England’s and beyond.

Barring an upset, NH #6 Souhegan should take home the runner-up title for the first time since 2005. They have lost to no DII team besides Coe-Brown, and feature two front-runners in Hannah Gillis and Madeline Hunt, and plenty of depth to boot with Elise Lambert, Shannon Earley, Hannah Culver, Kate Birmingham and Emily Ehrenstein forming a nice interchangeable pack.

The race for third and fourth seems most likely to be a toss-up between Oyster River and a newcomer to the top 6, Windham. Oyster River placed just ahead of Windham at the Black Bear Invite, but Windham turned the tables at Manchester (each did have a 9th-grader in the Frosh race, seperated by only 4 places). OR holds the advantage of frontrunner Maegan Doody and wins the next two spots as well, but then has quite a gap back to 4th and 5th. Windham’s Kristin Tilley is a strong leader, but it is a bit of a ways back to the next 4.

The final two spots for a trip to MOC’s is wide open. Hanover was the 5th-best team on the Manchester merge, but a lot can change from September. They did also win the CVC championship recently, and if they did not qualify it would be the first time in…forever? Hollis-Brookline is the other team that is looking for at least a 5th-straight MOC appearance, but they will need their pack to close a bit on leader Sarah Crampton. Goffstown has a great one-two set with Rebecca Zylak and Liberty Gendron, while Kennett and John Stark both rely on depth and pack running. Both of those last teams seem to be on an upward trend recently, and stand a good chance to upset the status quo of recent years.

Individually, while she is not as big a favorite as Coe-Brown is for the team title, it would be an upset if Oyster River’s Maegan Doody did not take home the individual championship. She has defeated everyone in Division II, and has looked fairly unstressed in doing so. You can’t have a great team without great runners, and Coe-Brown has more than it’s share. Should Doody falter, any one of three CB runners could sweep to the front. UConn-bound Hannah Parker has been looking great, with a win at Wickham Park she is likely the biggest challenger. Brooke Laskowsky has been having a stellar season and has been the Black Bears top runner at points this season. Elisabeth Danis has managed to stay under the radar thus far in 2014, but is a big race runner and can not be counted out (there was that epic stretch battle last year between Danis and Doody, with Danis coming out one second ahead). Merrimack Valley’s Kristie Schoffield is also looking for a top 5 finish, and has quickly developed the credentials to be in the mix with wins over top D-I runners Shannon Murdock (Exeter) and Concord’s Cassie Shea. After these five, Souhegan’s Madeline Hunt and Hannah Gillis, Goffstown’s Liberty Gendron and Rebecca Zylak, Windham’s Kristin Tilley, Hollis-Brookline’s Sarah Crampton, St. Thomas’s Melissa Hiatt, and three more Coe-Brown runners, Alli Pratt, Meg Scannell, and Julia Cormier, all look to give their teams single-digit scoring numbers by landing a top-10 spot.

Division 2 Boys

The Division 2 Boys Championships will be extremely interesting this year, with two “main events”: 1) The battle for first and second place, and 2) the fight for places 3-6. Here are the team and individual predictions for the meet this Saturday based on the seasonal results available.

With outstanding grouping for their top 5 (around 45 seconds from their #1 to their #5), Coe-Brown looks like they have what it takes to take home a victory. They have won all of their matchups this season vs D2 opponents, and look to improve on last year’s surprise 3rd place performance.  They have shown consistency in all of their races, and even lacking an “elite” top runner, they have the potential to place their entire top 5 in the top 25 runners overall.  Davio Deluca has been CB’s top runner for most of the season, but Zach Richards and Jared Nelson have been running well and could be the top Bear. Bottom line, this team’s 1-5 men are basically interchangeable and make for an extremely dense pack that will be their key for success.

If there is one team that could challenge Coe-Brown this year for the title, it’s Oyster River. Led by Patrick O’Brien, Will Stone, Cam Barth and Neville Caulfield, the Bobcats have the talent and the historical precedent (they have won 3 of the last 4 D2 titles) to win it all.  OR always finds that #5 guy and gets him to step up when it counts most. Having O’Brien way up front will help, but OR will have to get a near perfect race from all their scorers to have a chance. Their rough 1:30 gap between #1 and #5 needs to close by a large margin if the Bobcats are going to win it all. Barring catastrophe, they are second at worst; the gap between second and third place teams looks to be very wide.

After a bit of a slow start, the Souhegan seems to be firing on all cylinders at the right time. After a good performance at the Pelham Invite, Souhegan ‘s top three of Eli Moskowitz, Ben Platt, and Garrett Earley look very good, and their #4 and #5 guys are not far behind. Having Moskowitz up front will be key, but Platt needs to score low also to make this work for the Sabers. Souhegan has been a perennial top 6 team for years, and there’s no evidence that will change this year. Experience counts, and this team has it. However, there are a couple of teams nipping at their heels that could possibly jump ahead of them if the Sabers falter.

A relative newcomer to the top six, Goffstown looks to follow up last year’s 5th place finish with a better team performance this year. Led by a very solid trio in Jackson Brannen, Matt Shaw, and Cody Murphy, Goffstown may have enough firepower to take third. Even though the #3 to #4 gap is wide, so is everyone else’s in the division except for the top 3 teams. The Grizzlies seem to have gained the necessary experience from last year’s D2s and with a good race from the top 5 could be good enough for a comfortable 4.

Windham seems to be “that team” this year; the surprise team that few saw coming. After a 10th place finish at D2s last season, Windham came back strong this year with a potent duo of Nathan Perez and Christian Osuba. Their supporting cast has been good this year as well, and like pretty much everyone else there is a drop off in their grouping. It looks like that will not hurt them too badly this season with most teams in the same boat. They will have to continue to improve however to hold a top 6 spot; with this much uncertainty league-wide about runners 3-7, any misstep will be costly.

Hanover is quietly making a case for a top six berth, and with a good race might even jump up a spot or three. Led by Felix Herron, Adam Glueck, and Walter Mosenthal, Hanover has decent grouping and looks to be a solid 6th in D2. Lack of a top 10 runner hurts their chances, but a strong pack, and most other teams struggling to round out their top 5, puts Hanover among the stronger teams in the big picture.

There seem to be a few other teams that have a legitimate shot at cracking the top 6. Lebanon and Portsmouth both have projected top 5 individual runners in Josh Fontaine and Brian Reaney respectively, as well as very good #2s, but both have depth and experience issues. With a very good day, either or both could move on to the Meet of Champions. Pelham and Hollis-Brookline are possibly in the mix as well, but hurt by a lack of a top 10 runner.

Individually, look for Souhegan’s Eli Moskowitz to take the title. With a blistering 15:42 at Manch Invite he is a clear favorite. Right on his tail are three elite runners that could each take the title if the cards fall their way: Oyster River’s Patrick O’Brien, Portsmouth’s Brian Reaney, and Lebanon’s Josh Fontaine are all real threats