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 and Instagram Updates during the meet! Look for Recaps, Post Race Interviews and Race Videos after the meet, over the weekend!
Division 3 can be tough to predict as many of the teams run short staffed for a fair portion of the season only to stock the roster full for that championship run. Also with so many meets spread out over the state with few results coming from them, the crystal ball can look a little murky. So using the season preview and what nuggets of times and places we can mine out, here it goes.
2014 champion White Mountains looks to defend their 2014 title. Last year, with no strong individual in cross country, the Lady Spartans put five in the top 13 to handily win the team title. This year’s team appears to be led by Emily McCusker and Peyton Giles (23:31), but if they can return Alex Curtis (20:33), Kaitlin Nelson (20:31), Hailey Chancey (21:11) and Leah Dutkewych (21:28), they should be in the driver’s seat.
The team most likely to dethrone White Mountains seems to be Monadnock. With Kayla Blair (21:03) as their front runner and some good pack running behind her in Joelle LaFreniere (21:49), Emmaline Mason (21:59), sisters Alexis Cooke (22:51) and Skyler Cooke (23:27) and Taylor McAnney (22:50), they stand the best chance to stop the White Mountain repeat.
Fighting for the rest of the top three spots should be the teams from Bow, Hopkinton, Kearsarge, Moultonborough, Newfound and Mascenic. As always, keeping everyone healthy through the end of the season and getting seven to the line is key. Bow and Kearsarge have some numbers, and if they can pack it in together they would seem to be able to get it done. Moultonborough, without a strong individual, have shown they can run well as a pack and that can make them dangerous as well. On the other hand Hopkinton, Newfound and Mascenic have some strong front runners in Sarah Nadeau (Hopkinton – 19:54), Molly Schilling (Newfound) and Samantha Bilodeau (Mascenic-21:54) and freshman Madi Labrie (Mascenic) and if they can get the supporting cast to plug the scoring holes, these teams can be a threat. Newfound seems to be putting it together for a run at the end of the season, beating Hopkinton at the Capital area meet this past week.
Individually, this season suggests that Nadeau of Hopkinton should stand the best chance of regaining the Division 3 title. Winning the title as a sophomore, and with the top White Mountain girls from last year absent from the results, Nadeau is better on paper by over a minute. Of course that’s why they run these races, but Nadeau should be at the front dictating the race. Other potentials for a top ten finish are the girls from White Mountains, LaFreniere from Monadnock, Bilodeau and Labrie from Mascenic, Dominique Biron (21:32) and Sohani Demian (21:38) of Bow, freshman Alice Riley of Belmont, and Danielle Scott (21:10, Fall Mountain.)
Mascenic (NH-10)topped the preseason preview, returning three top twenty runners from last year’s winning team. This spring they lost five seniors to graduation, including 2013 D3 individual champ and MOC runner up in Tim Fafard. This fall, luck shined down on them as they added seven freshmen to the roster. Already having the #3 returning runner in Avery Traffie (16:50) and a much improved Jake Movsessian (17:24), the Vikings look to retain the title they earned last year. However, there are a number of teams set on dethroning them.
The most likely challenge will come from the Huskies of Monadnock or the Cougars of Kearsarge. The Huskies led by last year’s fifth placer James Elmour (17:00), have been steadily improving over the years, and with back up from Dawson Adams (18:05) and newcomer standout Brandon Hout, the Huskies will be looking to challenge for that top spot.
In the preview, Kearsarge was heralded as a team to watch and this season has proven that to be true. This past week they were best of D3 at the Capital area meet finishing in third behind St. Pauls and Concord. Led by junior Tim Cunningham (18:05) and sophomore Mason Benedict (18:44), expect the Cougars to be in the mix for the team title.
InterLakes and Hopkinton have the top two runners in the division in returning champion Cam Daly (16:12) and runner up Dom Repucci (16:38), and their respective squads are rounding into shape nicely. InterLakes was the highest finishing team last year at Meet of Champions and the Lakers will be looking for that magic again. Cam’s brother, Ian Daly (18:20), has made great strides since last season and will be leading the stable of guys behind Cam up front. The Hawks from Hopkinton had a great summer of training and look to improve on their sixth place showing of last year and earn a team berth to MOCs.
Two other teams looking to carve out their place and continue on to the post season are Derryfield and Gilford. Derryfield gave Mascenic all they could handle last year and fell one point short of stopping the Vikings. With junior Ben Garfield a (17:54) at the helm and a top ten prospect, discount them at your own peril. The Golden Eagles of Gilford will be running behind the strength of their front man Ryan LaFrance (17:23) and the improved Eagles will be looking to upset the apple cart.
Individually, look for Cam Daly and Dom Repucci to set the tempo up front. Both ran fantastic in the Capital area meet this past week and should be ready to roll. The duo of Traffie and Movsessian should find themselves in hot pursuit during the second half of the race, with Elmour and Adams, Garfield, LaFrance, Ian Daly, Cunningham, DJ Turner ( 18:04, Mascenic) as well as Dane Seppala (17:49, Conant) and freshman Jeff Allen of Campbell providing company.
With four experienced seniors in their top seven, it looks like one more year before another team can truly challenge Coe-Brown’s (NH-1) dominance at the Division II meet. While the jury is out on whether this is the best Black Bear team yet, they will be hard-pressed to match last year’s 22 point, 5 in-the-top-7, 61 point win. One reason is Windham’s entry into Most Improved Runner of the Year, Susan Poore, who was a consistent mid-23 runner last year placing 63rd at the Division meet, and is now running low 19’s and broke up the Coe-Brown pack at the Black Bear Invite. Souhegan’s Maddie Hunt returns, the only runner to break up the top 5 at last year’s Division meet, and Kristie Schoffield of MV who DNF’d last year, but returns a year older and more experienced. Regardless of who else places in the top ten, however, look for seniors Elisabeth Danis, Brooke Laskowsky, Meg Scannell, and Julia Cormier to once again help their team take home the title, completing a “grand slam” sweep for 4-year varsity runners Danis, Laskowsky, and Scannell.
Behind the easy pick of Coe-Brown are the two teams who could challenge next year; Souhegan (NH-3), led by Hunt, and Hanover (NH-6), led by whoever has the best kick that day (at Black Bear, Hanover’s top three of Sadie Lingelbach-Pierce, Hannah Whittmann, and Leila Trummel finished within 3 seconds of each other). With no seniors in their top 10, Hanover is a young team that could surprise on Saturday. Souhegan still has favorite status; however, as they boast a very deep team up front, with Arielle Zlotnick, Shannon Early, and Jane Leighton all capable of going sub-20 on a good day (no seniors in that group, either). Assuming all are healthy, they should also keep the point gap to Coe-Brown much lower than in 2014.
Oyster River (NH-8) looks to hold the pre-meet fourth position, although they have struggled at times this season with depth. They of course boast the runner not yet mentioned in this article, Maegan Doody, who barring an upset should only add one point to the team total. This will help a lot. Danielle Slavin and Katie Schmitt provide a very solid 2-3, and while Megan Wu is a solid scorer, there is a bit of a gap back to their 5th runner. With a very solid run from the team, they could possibly challenge for third, while a hiccup in the top three could drop them a few places back.
In the early season Hollis-Brookline was looking like a contender for the 5th spot with Windham, but their top runner, Sarah Crampton, has been absent from results for the past month. This has given Windham some breathing room with Poore running so well. Laura Pomeroy will also need to run well, as there is some separation back to the rest of the scoring 5. If Hollis has a healthy Crampton, and with Kay and Madylin Partridge adding some depth, they should place in the top 6 and thus complete the repeat of the 2014 MOC top 6. Without Crampton, however, they join the mass of teams looking to get in on the party and book a trip to Nashua in November.
The teams currently on the outside looking in are a jumble of “this team beat that team, but that team beat this team” at various meets. Kennett, Portsmouth, Con-Val, Merrimack Valley, and John Stark are in this group. Depth-wise, Portsmouth is the winner, but lack a pack up front. Kennett is similar, with maybe a little more talent up front but not quite as much depth. Merrimack Valley has the luxury of a front-runner in Schoffield, but lacks depth. Con-Val has been surprising this season, showing huge improvements over last year, while John Stark, last year’s 7th place finisher, will need to have their best race of the year to improve that one spot. This will likely come down to the simple, yet obvious question of “Who is the best team today?”
Individually, OR’s Doody has been in a league of her own this season, with a NH course record at Derryfield, a course record at Black Bear, and a tie for course record at her home course of Oyster River. The only potential challenger is Coe-Brown’s Danis, who actually owns the faster time of the two this fall, a 17:32 on a quick course at Brown, in Rhode Island. Danis, 3rd in 2012 and runner-up each of the past two years would love to add an individual title to her resume, and will not hand the title over to Doody without a race. After the top two, there should be a chase pack made up of MV’s Schoffield, Windham’s Poore, Souhegan’s Hunt, and CB’s Laskowsky, Cormier, Scannell and Junior Alli Pratt. Souhegan’s Leighton, Early, and Zlotnick should duel with OR’s Slavin and Schmitt for the final remaining top-10 spots.
The Boys Division 2 Championship Meet looks fairly predictable at the top of the rankings but nearly impossible to predict the lower we go.
With a great combination of low placement and exceptional grouping, Coe-Brown (NH-3) looks to repeat as champions. With six runners at or under 17:30 at this year’s Black Bear Invite and three of those under 17:00, Coe-Brown seems to have too much depth for any other D2 team to overcome. Led by Jared Nelson, Evan Tanguay, and Davio DeLuca, look for a tight group of red uniforms up front at the Championship race.
Oyster River (NH – 4)has the best 1-2 punch in the division with Patrick O’Brien and Neville Caulfield, as well as a mix of talented, hard-working veterans and freshmen who have instantly contributed to the team. OR looks to be untouchable in the #2 spot, and is the only team in the division that can challenge for the title. They would need to have huge days from everyone to overcome the Bears; always a real possibility with this team, so do not sleep on their chances.
The Kennett Eagles have a very low number in Nick Brown, who is supported by Thomas Welch and Darren Piotrow tightly grouped in the mid 17s. Kennett has been very consistent and looks to continue that trend at the Championship race. They will need very good races from their 4 and 5 guys to hold onto this spot with the gap between the #3 and #4 teams possibly being very tight. Very few points one way or the other could be the difference.
The Kingswood Knights are almost identical to Kennett 1-4, but their 5th man is the separating factor right now. Hunter Miller is having an outstanding season and will give Kingswood an edge over any teams looking to move past them at D2s. Owen Gwizdala and Cameron Stinchfield are an excellent 2-3 that could lead the team to a third place finish, but a full team effort will need to happen to move up.
Hanover is quietly running well this season. The Marauders have Morgan Baughman up front followed by two sets of siblings; Felix and Simon Herron, and Isaac and Joseph Jacobs backing up their top man. Rising higher than #5 as a team will be a real challenge, but Hanover teams historically cannot be counted out. Look for them to distance themselves from the #6 team by a wide margin with a solid race day.
Con-Val, Plymouth, Goffstown, Windham. You try to make a definitive prediction here; I absolutely can’t. Plymouth, Goffstown, Windham all have a very good up-front runner (Andrew Chabot, Jackson Brannen, Peter Caron respectively) but need to have their 4-5 guys run very well to distinguish themselves. Con-Val is without that top tier lead man, but has excellent grouping that may prove to be the difference between being a #6 team and a #9 team. These teams will likely be separated by a handful of points and will make the last MOC berth extremely interesting!
Individually, Oyster River’s Patrick O’Brien is the favorite to win; he posted a smoking 15:49 at the Manchester Invitational this year and looks untouchable. Not far behind him will be a tight pack including Coe-Brown’s Jared Nelson, Kingswood’s Hunter Miller, Kennett’s Nick Brown, OR’s Neville Caulfield, Windham’s Peter Caron, and Goffstown’s Jackson Brannen.
After two months of exciting cross country, it’s finally time for the Divisional races. It’s been great to see how the teams and individual runners have developed. Now this weekend we get to see who’s ready to stand out.
After serving up Coe-Brown their first loss to a NH team in three years at Thetford’s Woods Trail Run and taking home the team title at the Catholic Memorial Invitational in Boston where they placed 5 in front of Bishop Guertin’s #2, Pinkerton Academy (NH-1) is the strong favorite to win the Division 1 title this year. Led by senior, Morgan Sansing, who seems to be getting stronger as the season matures, the Trail Blazers have a very tight pack with Maison D’Amelio (10), Ciara April (9), and sisters Jordan and Ariel Vaillancourt (9th and 12th respectively)
Bishop Guertin (NH-3) is the favorite to garner runner-up honors. While they are a more experienced team than Pinkerton, they rely on pack running with Chloe Conway (12), Heidi Ntengeri (12), Jessica Ewing (11), Gabrielle Dionne (11), and Rebecca Ntgeneri (10). They would need their pack to move up and race step for step with the Astros to have a shot.
Challenging Bishop Guertin will be the super young (2 sophomores and 2 freshmen) and talented Merrimack (NH-5). Led by Bailey Carrillo’s (10) 18:47, Lauren Brennan (9), Grace Corbett (10), Sophie Kim (9), and Erica Lane (12) displayed their potential by placing third at Brown Invitational’s Varsity Race 2 with an average time of 19:16. If they can put it together Saturday, they could be standing on the stage.
Three teams seem to be in a pack battling for the next three spots, Alvirne (NH-7), Concord (NH-9) and Bedford (NH-10). Alvirne is coming off a win as the home team in Battle of the Border and placed 3rd at the early season Nashua North Invite. Concord placed 4th at the Nashua North Invite, but has struggled with injuries. If all are healthy, especially Cassie Shea, the Crimson Tide could finish much higher. Bedford will benefit from the front running of transfer Leya Salis who ran a blazing 18:54 debut at Derryfield. Their success will depend upon the performance of the rest of the pack.
Teams fighting for the final MOC spots should be Winnacunnet, Dover, and Londonderry. As is customary with these final qualifiers, it will depend upon which teams have the best day on Saturday.
Individually, in what could be the race of the day, look for a front pack consisting of Exeter’s Jacqueline Gaughan and Violet Sullivan, Pinkerton’s Sansing, Bedford’s Salis, Winnacunnet’s Kelly Arsenault and Concord’s Cassie Shea (if healthy). Separating from this group over the second half of the race could be Gaughan, Sullivan and Sansing. The next three or four could be Pinkerton’s Vaillancourt sisters, April and/or D’Amelio, leading them to a dominant win.
Other runners to watch include Kaitlyn Tanguay (Central), Katie Bellomo (Alvirne), Haley Markos (Dover) and Michaella Conery (Concord), who all ran sub 20:00 at the Manchester Invitational. Although not at Manchester, look for Bishop Guertin’s Conway and Heidi Ntengeri in the front pack as well. Not far off that front pack or possibly crashing that party should be Merrimack’s Carrillo and Brennan, as well as Londonderry’s Kalin Gregoire.
On the team side, we came into this season looking at a two team battle between Pinkerton (NH-1) and Londonderry (NH-2), and they did not disappoint. That said, Pinkerton won every contest between the two teams and is the clear favorite going into the race. While we knew going into the season they would be strong up front behind Nico Sevilla, Tom Hanlon and Jeff Reddy; it was the surprise success of first time XC runner Noah Davis that really took the Astros to the next level. They could potentially put a mind blowing four runners into the top 10 and that would make them pretty unbeatable.
If anyone is going to stop Pinkerton from winning its 3rd straight championship, it’s the Lancers from Londonderry. With Pinkerton’s incredibly strong top four, they would be a distant favorite this year if not for some huge improvements from all of the Lancers, but especially their top runner, Cam Dickson. Dickson was a top 10 returner, but this season moved up and could now contend for a divisional championship. They have two other top 10 contenders in Jared Kane and Noah Schrank. For them to have a shot at toppling Pinkerton, both runners will have to find a way to make that happen and displace some of the Pinkerton runners in the process.
The next few spots may be the most exciting part of the day. Nashua North, South, Concord and Alvirne have made sure the weekly state rankings were always in flux as they constantly switched positions battling to hopefully get to run at New England’s. Examining the results of the season, one finds themselves switching the order for these teams with every meet! For example, last time these teams met at Derryfield, South came out on top but with only 35 points separating the four schools. One week prior they were the fourth of these teams at the Nashua Invitational. It really is going to be about which team decides to step up the most.
North (NH-5) seems like the best choice behind a great sophomore season by David Vorbach. North has had a strong pack behind Vorbach all season, so if they collectively have a good day, it could help keep their score low and take third.
Alvirne (NH-7) is the pick for fourth. They have an amazing top two runners with Kendall Westhoff as someone who could make a run for the division championship and Noah Bellomo, a definite contender for a top 10 finish. Their third man Richard D’Amico also had an outstanding race at the Battle of the Border. Their issue was an almost two minute spread between their first and fifth runners. If their four and five can move up even a small amount, they could find themselves bumping North out for third place. A big surprise for a team who wasn’t ranked coming into the season!
Nashua South (NH-6) is next up. They may actually have the strongest top five of any of these teams. They had an outstanding race down at Catholic Memorial but their strength is very much in their top five. The 30 second gap to their sixth man could really hurt them if one of the top five guys doesn’t have a great day. Their lead runner, Mitch King, was also a top ten returner going into this season and while things started a little slow, he looks to be rounding into shape at the right time. It could be just the bump they need to move up to third.
Concord (NH-8) is the pick for sixth, but again if these guys came in third, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Concord has had an excellent top three all season, but has had some trouble bringing it all together in the same race. Alexander Saveliev is a guy who will contend for the individual championship while Spencer Oliver and Forest Mackenzie have been two of the most successful young runners in the state. If those three all have strong races Saturday, they should do very well.
A dark horse team for this group is Timberlane. They’ve run well all season, but with their top runner (and possible state champion?) Liam Kimball clearly training for a chance at nationals, we haven’t really seen what they’re capable of. Expect them to turn some heads, and outperform their ranking, as they possibly move their way into the top five.
While the top of the team championship looks to be a little clear cut, the battle for the individual champion should be much more exciting.
We’ll start by paying respect to the returning champion Liam Kimball and give him the top spot. He ran a blazing time at the Brown Invitational and looks ready to take on all competitors. This might be a guy who even contends for top 5 at New England’s. He won’t be lonely at the front though. Cam Dickson was only seconds behind him at Brown and ran an incredible race at the Manchester Invitational beating everyone from the Division. Nico Sevilla and Dickson have had several close battles this year, with Sevilla currently leading 2-1 and Pinkerton teammates Tom Hanlon and Noah Davis chomping on their heels all season long. Exeter’s Justin Carbone hasn’t looked quite as dominant as last year, but thinking he doesn’t have a shot to have a great race and win Saturday seems like a mistake. Kendall Westhoff is definitely worth watching after a sub 16:00 performance the Battle of the Border. Alexander Saveliev had a tough middle section of the season, but his race at the Capital City Championship seems to show he’s back on track and should also contend for the win.
Looking forward to watching this race Saturday and good luck to everyone competing!
See how we did last year!!!