Division Favorites – Pinkerton, Coe-Brown, Mascenic
Individuals to Watch – Liam Kimball (Timberlane), Justine Carbone (Exeter), Patrick O’Brien (Oyster River), Cameron Daly (Inter-Lakes), Dom Repucci (Hopkinton)
August is here and that means the beginning of the cross country season is right around the corner! Hopefully, this preview finds everyone wrapping up a great summer of training and ready to show what they’ve got this fall.
Writing a preview for the cross country season is a lot of fun but comes with a lot of challenges. You never know who is coming back from the various teams and how far some of the runners have come. To try and figure out what we can expect, all the graduating seniors from the Division meets, Meet of Champions, and the JV State meets were removed, and that information was analyzed to try and make an educated guess on what we can expect. That said, there are always a few breakout stars who throw a wrench in the formula of any guess for an upcoming season and that’s what makes the whole process fun! Let’s dive into it.
Pinkerton (NH #1) definitely has the tools to make it three years in a row. They have a top 3 with Nick Sevilla (12, 16:17), Tom Hanlon (12, 16:22) and Jeff Reddy, who will all be battling with the best runners in the division. Anytime you can have three single digit scores, it really helps to keep that total low. Additionally, they threw together one of the most dominating performances ever seen at the JV State meet made up largely of returning runners who will fill in behind that top three. Sam Lanternier (12, 16:58), Calvin Graves and Pat Bastek are guys to keep an eye on for the team who could all place in the top 20 of the Division.
It looks like the team with the best chance to spoil Pinkerton’s party is Londonderry (NH #2). Londonderry returns virtually its entire top seven but they get an added bonus with Chris Zaino returning to the team after a season away. Jared Kane (12, 17:04) and Cam Dickson (12, 17:05) will be expected to lead the team and both have an outside chance of placing in the top 10 in the division. Londonderry’s strength will come in pack running with Noah Schrank, Josh Wasserman (12, 17:40) and Zaino all likely to be close on their leader’s heels. If they want to take Pinkerton down though, they will all need to show some improvement from last year.
There’s a gap between the lead two teams and the rest of the pack, but the next three teams return a large number of talented young guys. It’s easy to see any of them jumping up to be neck and neck with the lead teams.
Concord (NH #4) will be led by Alexander Saveliev (12, 16:19), who will be one of the guys battling for the top spot in the division. He won’t be too lonely as now sophomore Oliver Spencer (10, 17:00) seems a likely candidate for a top 20 finish in the division. The top 5 looks to be rounded out by James Wilkes (11, 18:07), Brad Hicks who ran well at the Meet of Champions (11, 17:35) and another returning sophomore Nathaniel Nichols (10, 17:40). This combination along with the addition of NH Middle School Small School State Champion Forest Mackenzie, the Crimson Tide look poised to have not only a very strong season, but could be the program to watch over the next few years.
Nashua South (NH #6)has the minor edge on last year’s data and will take the 4th spot. The team should be led by senior Mitch King (12, 16:54), who will be in the hunt for a top 10 spot in the Division. He has a group of sophomore and junior returners though, who will give them a chance to move up in the rankings. At the Meet of Champions their two through five runners Conor Canfield (11, 17:15), Ryan Vermette (10, 17:37), Tyler North (11, 17:51), and Aiden Van Battenberg (10, 18:02) all finished within 10 seconds of each other. If that group can move up, even a small amount, they could find their score dropping rapidly.
Nashua North (NH #7)looks to be led by the strong duo of Connor Muise (11, 17:34) and David Vorbach (10, 17:29). Similarly to South, they have an incredibly tight grouping from two to five; Sheamus Adams (11, 17:39), Noah Collins (12, 17:31), and Brian Inzerillo (12,17:50), split up by 12 seconds; just slightly behind South’s group. An improvement of 10 seconds for those guys would vault them ahead of South and probably Concord.
Timberlane (NH #8) looks to be in the 6th spot after an outstanding season last year. They will be led by the defending Division I Individual Champion Liam Kimball (12, 15:58). Kimball had an incredible junior year, and if he can give his team a single point, it will really help their cause. Timberlane graduated most of their top 7, but still have a very strong top 4. If they can find someone to play the role of 5th man, they could be battling with any of the other teams above them on this list very quickly.
Of this next group of teams, Keene (NH #9)probably has the best chance of moving up substantially. Johnathan Allard (11, 16:34) gives them a strong front runner and after that, they have a huge group of talented returning freshman who could move them up the rankings quickly. Watch these guys closely!
Central has a great top three with Nolan Cooney (12, 16:43) showing everyone he wasn’t just a mid-distance guy last season. If their 4th and 5th runners move up a bit and can dip down into the 17 minute range, they have a great shot at finding their way into the Meet of Champions.
Alvirne may have the best 1-2 punch in the state with Kendall Westhoff (12, 16:58) and Noah Bellomo (12, 16:59). They need to find some guys to back them up if they’re going to move up in the rankings though.
Bishop Guertin rounds out our top 10. They have a great lead runner in Chris Fischer (12, 16:50) and performed very well at the D1 meet last year before sliding back slightly at the Meet of Champions. Depending on which team shows up, they could find themselves higher on this list pretty quickly.
The favorite for the divisional champ is Timberlane’s Liam Kimball. He looked locked in every race last season, and if that guy comes back this fall, it’s hard to see anyone beating him. The guy that would seem to have the best chance is Exeter’s Justin Carbone. He had an outstanding season last year, but his weakest race was probably the Division I Championship where he slid back to 12th . He did come back the following week to finish right on Kimball’s heels. Newcomer Pinkerton’s Jeff Reddy seems likely to battle with Carbone and Kimball for the win. He was a top 10 runner in the state of Massachusetts and ran in the mid 15s. His biggest weakness will be a lack of experience at Derryfield Park. In 4th, Concord’s Alexander Saveliev could very well hang with the lead guys as he finished near them last year. Alvirne’s Kendall Westhoff didn’t have a strong Divisional meet but ran an outstanding race at the Meet of Champions could also be a factor at the front.
The 2015 Boys Division 2 season looks extremely interesting. With a clear favorite team, a hungry team that wants to prove itself, and a pack of teams vying for 4 spots, this season could see tons of movement on the ranking lists. 5 of the top 10 returnees in the division are from the same team; can you guess which one? Here are the team and individual projections for the meet this year.
Coe-Brown (NH #3), last year’s D2 champs look like a lock to repeat this year. After a dominating win in 2014, the Black Bears return their entire top 7 in 2015! Davio DeLuca (11, 16:51), Zach Richards (11, 17:16), Jake Scarponi (12, 17:25) Jared Nelson (12, 17:25), Evan Tanguay (10, 17:26), Zack Flanagan (12, 18:17), and Jacob Snow (11, 19:05) all showed just how important a tight and talented pack of runners can be. With experience, talent, and depth (add in the top 2 finishers from 2014 JV state meet returning) it seems like Coe-Brown are the favorites for the title this season.
Oyster River (NH #5) looks poised to be runner-up again this year, but do not sleep on this team. Last year’s Bobcat team saw their number one runner drop out of the Division 2 Championship race and they still finished 4th overall. That speaks to Oyster River’s tradition of depth and “next man up” mentality. This season they will have NH All-Stater Patrick O’Brien (11) back, and with a tenth place 16:04 finish at the 2014 MOC, he looks to be an individual title favorite and more importantly for the team; a low scorer. Neville Caufield (12, 17:26), Kobi Hackenburg (11, 18:40), and Evan Gordan (12, 18:43) will be the supporting cast. Mixing in two incoming frosh that placed high at the Middle School Championships as well as 5 out of the top 10 finishers in last year’s JV State meet, OR looks solidly entrenched in the 2nd position with the best shot for the upset.
Looking past the projected first 2 spots starts to get nebulous very quickly, with many of the top teams from last year losing many of their top runners. Depth and experience will be the tie breaker here. Kennett has both, returning 6 of their top 7 from last year’s 8th place finish at D2s. Nick Brown (12, 17:13), Thomas Welch (12, 17:26), James Curran (12, 18:31), Nicholas Whitley (11, 19:00), Darren Piotrow(11, 19:41) and Todd Demsmaris (12, 20:15) make up the Eagle’s squad that arguably has the best top 3 returners of any team outside the top 2. Brown had an exceptional spring season and looks to score low. He may be a deciding factor in a year where the 3-6 spots look as up for grabs as they have been in quite some time. Kennett seems to be a team on the rise and could make noise at D2s.
Kingswood is another team with depth. This Knights squad returns their top 7 from last year’s team that came in 9th at D2s last season. Hunter Miller (12, 17:00), Cameron Stinchfield (10, 17:57), Seth Richardson (12, 18:35), Brodie Deshaies (11, 18:41), and Owen Cowizdola (11, 19:17) make up a solid top 5, but will need more production from the 6-7 spots to be able to make a run at Kennett. This Kingswood team could move up a spot in the rankings with a good day at D2s; however, there are a few teams that could also move into this spot, so the Knights will have to run well to make it to MOC.
Hanover is always in the mix or just on the outside looking in. This year’s squad looks primed to get itself back to the Meet of Champions after last year’s 10th place finish at D2s by returning 5 members of its varsity team. Felix Herron (12, 17:35), Adam Glueck (11, 18:41), Issac Jacobs (12, 18:50) Henry Mackall (11, 19:10), and Joseph Jacobs (10, 19:34) show that the Marauders have the numbers and grouping to make a bid for MOC, but will need each runner to drop time to grab lower points. Their returning depth will help them hold off a number of teams with a better 1-2 punch, but a lack of depth.
After missing the Meet of Champions last year by just one spot and losing elite harrier Eli Moskowitz, Souhegan will need their returning 5 of Garrett Early (11, 18:14), Cameron Behn (12, 18:28), Thomas Lipkin (11, 19:08), Billy Seguin (11, 19:27) and Jake Upton (11, 19:28) along with a couple of call-ups from their JV to get back in the top 6 in 2015. The Sabers are a team that is never down for long, and has experience with performing under pressure. They will have to be careful however, because their team is on paper only a hair better than a few other teams in the division that did not make this list.
Other teams that could crack the top 6 include Windham, Portsmouth, Goffstown, Hollis-Brookline, Trinity, and Lebanon. All have a shot at making it to MOC, but they all suffer from a lack of depth and experience. All have a good top 2-3, but have question marks after that. The 5th and 6th spots at D2s very well could come down to the teams listed above separated by only a handful of points.
Look for OR’s Patrick O’Brien to be the top finisher at the D2 Championship race; he finished 24 seconds in front of the next best D2 returner at the 2014 MOC and had excellent Indoor and Outdoor Track seasons. Right behind him in a tight pack should be Davio DeLuca (Coe-Brown), Eshun Farooq (West), Hunter Miller (Kingswood), and Nick Brown (Kennett). Don’t count out any of the remaining Coe-Brown boys either in this pack; most of their top 5 can hang with anyone.
Predicting the team race in this division is a bit difficult. Mascenic (NH #10)returns the best finishers from last year’s meet with Jake Movsessian (11, 17:23) and DJ Turner (10, 18:03) behind 3rd place all-stater Avery Traffie (12, 16:50). With a young squad (Traffie is the only returning senior), they will have needed to make the commitment over the summer if they are to retain the title. If they can get their JV guys from last year or some new blood from last year’s middle school fourth place team, they should stand near the top.
Last year, Derryfield rose through the depths of D3 cross country to finish in a tie with Mascenic. However, graduation has taken a heavy toll, seeing 4 of their top seven go off to college. But they got better exponentially last year and a similar growth pattern will likely have them as one of the top teams in the division as well come the end of October. A much improved Ben Garfield (11, 17:53) and sophomore Caleb Richmond (10, 18:29) will front the team.
InterLakes has the next best returning three, led by defending individual champ Cam Daly (12, 16:11). At MOC’s last year they ran an absolutely awesome team race to place 10th and were D3’s top team. Ambrose Bean (12, 18:13) and Cam’s brother, Ian Daly (10, 18:19), are potential top ten material. If they can get a few more bodies out with them over the summer, they could make a run for the title as well.
Hopkinton and Monadnock have the best returning five, losing only two off their respective rosters. Hopkinton’s spread is a little better, and with last year’s runner-up Dom Repucci (12, 16:38) leading the way. If he can find a supporting cast, they could also be up to the challenge.
One final team to keep your eye on and the ultimate dark horse is Kearsarge. This well-coached team finished 7th, but lost no one. With potentially three in the top twenty when the season comes to an end, expect them to move up the rankings.
Individually your winner should be either Cam Daly or Dom Repucci. Both Daly and Repucci had an excellent year on the track with Cam finishing behind NE champ Eli Moskowitz at MOCs and Dom winning the 3200 at MOCs. Potentially challenging for top spots would be Mascenic’s Traffie, and Movsessian along with Monadnock’s James Elmour. After that expect Ryan LaFrance of Gilford, Dane Seppala of Conant, Ben Garfield of Derryfield, Dawson Adams of Monadnock, Tim Cunningham of Kearsarge, and DJ Turner of Mascenic to round out the top ten.
Meet of Champions
Last year Pinkerton Academy literally ran away with the state title at the Meet of Champions. Unless 2 teams can essentially move their pack up the ranks, look to the Astros to easily repeat as New Hampshire’s best. Especially with the addition of Reddy (the rich get richer!), Pinkerton continues to win in the battle of depth and with Coach Clarke at the helm, it will be extremely difficult to unseat them.
If any team has a shot at Pinkerton, it looks like their rival Londonderry has the highest potential. They are among 2 teams in the potential top 5 to return all 7 runners from the previous year. If their pack can move up and trade 20 points each to single digits for their top 2-3, they can be in the ball park.
With the MOC’s, one has to consider the type of race it becomes. It is starkly different than the hilly, test of strength Derryfield course for the Division Championships. In addition, because of the sheer number of great runners (it is the Meet of Champs after all), lower numbers from teams’ top runners are key to success. Showing great potential in this scenario is Concord. With a seasoned veteran primed to post a team score of 6 or better, along with a youth movement of talented yet with a few years of championship racing, the Crimson Tide may have the most potential in the state.
Oyster River and Coe-Brown are another example of this and will battle with Concord for the third spot at Mines falls. Last year, Coe-Brown benefitted from tight pack to win the D2 title, while the Bobcats benefitted from the mere 4 points posted by their top runner, placed 4th, 25 points ahead of the Black Bears. This battle will be similar this year. Coe-Brown seems to have the most potential with returning their top 9 runners, losing nothing to graduation. They need one or two to break from the pack, or the top five to move further up the rankings. While the Bobcats will be reliant on developing their 4-7 runners over the course of the season. Their newcomers could have a distinct affect on this rivalry.
The rest of the pack vying for a New Englands’ berth include Nashua South, Timberlane, Nashua North, and Manchester Central. As with every year, count on a D3 school to make noise as well. Currently, Mike Smith-coached Mascenic are the prime candidates.
Individually, this could be one of the more competitive races in recent years that involves more than 2 athletes. Unless one solidifies majordomo status over the course of the season, there could be as many as 5 individuals that could earn Top NH Harrier honors. While D3 might not have a dominant team, they certainly have 2 of the individuals most likely to challenge for the title. After highly successful junior year campaigns in both xc and track, Cameron Daly and Dom Repucci seem poised to push each other to great heights on the hills and trails. Obviously, D1 Champion Liam Kimball as well as Justin Carbone will offer their input on the proceedings. Following these 4 seniors, look to D2’s Patrick O’Brien to continue improving and possibly steal the show.