It was cold, rainy, soggy, slippery, muddy, and blustery at Mines Falls yesterday. Perfect for NH Cross Country and the Meet of Champions. Perfect for settling the discussion of who is NH’s top harrier and top teams regardless of school size. Perfect for determining who is representing the Granite State versus the rest of New England in Connecticut next week.
Despite the conditions, the girls began things with a competitive, fast race. Although the girls race began a bit tentative at right around 6:00 pace, things got rolling in the 2nd mile. Pitting the very best in NH cross country, Division 1 Champ and UNH bound Shannon Murdock (Exeter) was the first to begin pushing the pace at the mile heading into the woods loop. Race favorite, Division 2 Champ Maegan Doody (Oyster River) gave chase along with Division 3 Champ Casey Hecox, Pinkerton’s Morgan Sansing, Concord’s Cassie Shea, and Coe-Brown’s Hannah Parker, Liz Danis, Brooke Laskowsky, and Alli Pratt.
Once runners reappeared along the canal approaching the 2 mile mark, Murdock, Doody, Parker and Danis had broken clear of the rest of the field. It was evident, one of these four would be the 2014 NH State Champion. Not much changed as the four emerged from the woods with a little over 3/4 of a mile to go, but Doody began applying pressure. This strung out the four with Parker 2nd, Danis 3rd and Murdock 4th. Although this would be how they would finish, the last 800 did not lose any intensity with Doody constantly checking on Parker with Danis closing in on 2nd in the process. But it was Oyster River’s Maegan Doody who successfully defended her title in 17:51, Parker came across in 18:01, Danis 18:07, and Murdock in 18:17. Sansing placed 5th, followed by Coe-Brown’s Laskowsky and Pratt in 6th and 7th respectively. Rounding out the top ten in the 8th through 9th positions were Hecox, Shea, and Pinkerton’s Ariel Vallaincourt. All in all, 14 girls broke the 19:00 barrier compared to 8 last year. And, in case you are wondering, the course record is held by Hanover’s Georgia Griffin. Back in 2007, she ran a blazing 17:28.
In the team competition, heavily favorite Coe-Brown won their 4th consecutive MOC title placing 4 in the top ten as described above and 5 in the top 20. 5th scorer Julia Cormier placed 19th and sixth girl Meg Scannell placed 23rd. Although their 36 point total does not match the 33 points scored last year, the 2014 Bears had a faster average time at 18:27 than the 2013 version at 18:54. Historically, the phenomenal 2007 Hanover team with Griffin and Heidi Caldwell averaged 18:35. Now that would be some team race!
As predicted also, the next 4 team places would go to Division 1 teams. Showing their D1 title was no fluke, Bishop Guertin once again employing the pack mentality placed a strong 2nd. Only 11 points separated 3rd through 5th with Concord placing 3rd, Winnacunnet 4th, and Pinkerton 5th. The Sabers of Souhegan claimed the 6th and final ticket to New Englands overtaking D2 runner-up Oyster River by 11 points.
By the time the girls race was completed, the course had been pretty well chewed up, making it a muddy and slippery run for the boys. The race had its fair share of crashes and burns. But this is cross country of course and some teams seemingly weren’t bothered by the conditions while with others, it certainly didn’t help their game plan.
The race went out kind of easy with a large pack rolling through the mile mark, creating a lot of bunching and elbows as the course narrows after the beginning straight. A number of athletes would go down on that first turn, adding to the chaos as they then moved back through the pack.
Through the S turn that leads to the bridge, there was still a lot of jostling for position where large packs were coming through. At this time, Cam Daly of InterLakes, Dom Repucci of Hopkinton and Eli Moskowitz of Souhegan were recognizable to the front of the lead pack that saw Oyster River’s Patrick O’Brien and Exeter’s Justin Carbone in there as well.
As the leaders came back across the canal headed for the two mile mark, the top three in Daly, Repucci and Moskowitz had opened a small gap on the chase pack. This would hold to the finish, with Moskowitz cranking up the intensity coming back in for his final loop of the field. As the lead started to thin the field out, some late charges were made in order to get up there. D1 Champ Liam Kimball of Timberlane, having stayed with the early pace of the pack used a strong move over the last kilometer to reel in those ahead of him to move up into fifth position at the finish.
For the most part, the race and team results played out pretty close to the preview, with Pinkerton the clear winner here. Led in the scoring by Nick Sevilla, Owen Clark and Tom Hanlon, the trio finished together, taking 15th, 16th, and 17th overall, but 8th, 9th, 10th in the scoring, to give the Astros a meager 67 points, finishing 77 points ahead of the next team.
The next team, as expected, was Timberlane, with 144 points. Kimball’s 5th place finish helped Timberlane finish ahead of a hard charging Alvirne. The Broncos three strong in Kendall Westoff (13th), Noah Bellamo (23rd), and Phil Demers (24th) helped them stay in the third slot with 150 points.
Oyster River, coming off a tough Division 2 meet that only saw them finish 5th, did one better on Saturday, having a great race, and finishing in the fourth slot. Patrick O’Brien, having had to drop out last week, led the Bobcats finishing tenth overall.
The one team that definitely surprised most everyone else was Londonderry, while on the rankings earlier in the year found themselves not ranked coming into Meet of Champions. With some strong running from the pack, the Lancers were able to make the leap even though their top runner finished in only 38th place overall.
Rounding out the top six that move on to New Englands was Coe-Brown. The Black Bears usually tight pack got a little spread out in this one but were able to hold on and hold off Concord by 2 points.
Individually, Eli Moskowitz of Souhegan controlled this race from start to finish, lurking towards the front but putting it away in the last mile. Eli’s finishing time of 15:33 is incredible, considering the conditions and the fact the course was lengthened last year which saw the top times under great conditions at 15:50. Truly an incredible run.
Giving chase were the top two from Division 3 in Cam Daly of InterLakes and Dom Repucci of Hopkinton, both also dipping under that 15:50 mark. Then the top boys from Division 1 in Scott Daly of Bedford, Liam Kimball of Timberlane, Justin Carbone of Exeter and Davis Clark of Memorial. Josh Fontaine of Lebanon would be next, followed by Brent Hoerner of Memorial and Patrick O’Brien of Oyster River to round out the top ten.
Congratulations to all and good luck next week!
Race Videos will be posted later Sunday.