Wow! Championship Saturday was filled with exciting races which provided fulfilled predictions sprinkled with the occasional upset. Congratulations to all! Race Recaps, Dave Scannell’s Photos, and Greg Hall’s Videos are below! See you all next Saturday in Nashua!
As mentioned in the preview, predicting anything in Division 3 is tough but even more so for the ladies. Anticipating a White Mountains repeat based on last year’s returnees and recent results, the Spartans weren’t able to run their A squad and the result of that was they finished out of the top five. Hopkinton’s Sarah Nadeau fulfilled the prediction with a return to the winner’s spot, posting a 19:58 to lead the Division 3 girls. Definitely off the script was runner up Maddison Labrie of Mascenic, running in the front chase pack the entire race.
Nadeau asserted herself early as the favorite, leading from the gun. The chase pack of Labrie, teammate Samantha Bilodeau, Kayla Blair of Monadnock, Alice Riley of Belmont and Leah Dutkewych of White Mountains, trailed Nadeau, but never jeopardized the win. As the pace continued, one by one the contenders to the runner up spot fell of leaving Labrie to follow Nadeau to the finish. Blair of Monadnock, Riley of Belmont and Dutkewych of White Mountain rounded out the top five. Freshman Isabella Mormando of Conant, Joelle Lafreniere of Monadnock, Samantha Bilodeau of Mascenic, Molly Schilling of Newfound and Delia Cormier of Laconia rounded out the top ten.
Without White Mountians in the hunt for first, Monadnock powered through the rest of the Division, winning 79 to 101 over Bow to claim their school’s first ever XC title! The biggest surprise of the team race was Campbell, which has been steadily improving all season, finishing in fourth behind a young and prospering Moultonborough team. Rounding out the top five was the Cougars from Kearsarge.
While slightly easier to predict, the outcome doesn’t always go the way the preview might suggest. Mascenic was the top team in Division 3 on paper prior to Saturday’s event, however there is a reason the race is run and when the dust settled on Saturday, Mascenic found itself one point shy of repeating. The Cougars of Kearsarge showed the way to win the divisional title with its depth. While Mascenic put their top three in the top twenty (3,4 and 17) Kearsarge matched that number (9, 15, and 20) and bettered it with their top five finishing in the top 30 to claim their school’s first ever state cross country title!
The race could have gone out two ways. The best two returning runners in the whole state, Cam Daly and Dom Repucci could have sat on the race and let it come down to a sprint for the finish saving some energy for next week. But the duo was having none of that and set a pace that would only be bettered by Timberlane’s Liam Kimball. Out in front and on the gas, the race got strung out early. A chase group developed around James Elmour of Monadnock, Ryan Lafrance of Gilford, and Jeffrey Allen of Campbell. This would hold until the second half of the course, when the Mascenic duo of Avery Traffie and Jake Movsessian would assert themselves, and decimate the chase pack over the downhill portion of the course. This would hold to the finish with Cam Daly repeating as champion in 15:53. Following Movsessian in to the finish would be Elmour, Lafrance, Conant’s Dane Seppala in 7th, Braeden Hout of Monadnock, Tim Cunningham of Kearsarge and Jeffrey Allen to fill out the top ten.
As mentioned before, Kearsarge won a squeaker over Mascenic 100 to 101. The top five teams were within 37 points of each other, with InterLakes, Monadnock and Derryfield rounding out the top five and qualifying for next week’s Meet of Champions.
Division 2 girls went pretty much according to prediction. Oyster River’s Maegan Doody notched her 2nd consecutive D2 title coming within seconds of breaking the D2 state record, although she has the fastest time ever posted by a NH runner at Derryfield with her 17:41 at the Manchester Invitational earlier this season. Talk about fastest ever, Coe-Brown’s Elisabeth Danis, claiming her third runner-up finish in 18:22, might be the fastest runner-up ever. Coe-Brown’s Alli Pratt also broke the 19:00 barrier, running 18:56 for 3rd place.
Last year, Coe-Brown placed 5 in the top 7 to win with a 19:22 average and a score of 22. This year they placed 5 in the top 9, scoring 28 points but ran much faster as a group achieving an average of 19:03, on of the fastest ever in D2. With their 6th consecutive title, Coe-Brown joins Kennett (1980-1985) and Hanover (2004-2009) with the longest streaks in D2 history. Also scoring for Coe-Brown were Brooke Laskowsky 6th, Meg Scannell 8th, and Julia Cormier 9th.
Merrimack Valley’s Kristie Schoffield bounced back from last year’s race to place 4th, Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin was the fastest sophomore in 5th, Windham’s Susan Poore, continuing her breakout season, placed 7th and West’s Julia Robitaille placed 10th to be D2’s fastest freshman.
In what could be the preview of the battle for next year’s team title, it was Hanover upsetting Souhegan for the runner-up plaque by only 6 points. As they have all year, Hanover’s top three of Hannah Wittman (10th), Sadie Lingelback-Pierce (11th) and Leila Trummel (12th) ran as a pack to finish within 7 seconds of each other to lead the Marauders to the stage. Souhegan countered with their top three, Jane Leighton, Shannon Earley, and Elise Lambert placing in the top 15 as well to trail Hanover by only 3 points through 3 runners. The close lead was extended by Hanover’s 4th runner Elsa Nordstrom creating some space to Souhegan’s 4th and placing 21st.
Off the strength of Doody’s and Slavin’s front running, perennial contender Oyster River placed 4th. Kennett, one of the most successful programs in D2 history, rejoins the Meet of Champions with their 5th place finish. Windham, led by Poore, seems to be trending toward consistency in the state’s eyes by making the return trip to the MOCs with their 6th place finish.
Entering Saturday, it was clear the team title would come down to favored Coe-Brown and underdog Oyster River. It was also clear that Oyster River’s Patrick O’Brien was the heavy favorite to win the individual title. What became evident in the first mile was Oyster River’s long time coach, Greg Gephart, counting on O’Brien’s majordomo status to slow the race down the first mile to give the rest of his team a shot at the upset. While this savvy strategy did effect a couple key Coe-Brown runners, the depth of the Bears proved too much, as Coe-Brown repeated as D2 Champs for their school’s 5th title. Led by 7th place Zach Richards, Coe-Brown traversed the Derryfield hills to take control of the team competition by the tower at 2 miles. Achieving a 22 second pack time, all five of their scorers placed in the top 20. Sophomore Evan Tanguay placed 11th, Tanner Richards (junior) 12th, Jake Scarponi (senior) 17th, and Jared Nelson (senior) 18th. Oyster River’s strategy also helped with their team score finishing 2nd, with 85 points. In addition to O’Brien, senior Neville Caufield placed 5th.
Another surprise of the meet was the order and teams qualifying for Meet of Champions. Kennett joined the girls team posting one of their highest finishes in years, placing third with 152 points. Led by Nick Brown’s very patient 3rd place finish, the Eagles were comfortably ahead of Plymouth’s 184. That is not a typo! Plymouth, for the first time in many years qualified for the Meet of Champions with their 4th place finish, a scant 8 points ahead of 5th place Kingswood, and 11 points ahead of 6th place Hanover.
Individually, Goffstown’s Jackson Brannen was the only runner to challenge O’Brien’s slow early pace, and that decision propelled him all the way to a strong 2nd place finish behind O’Brien in 16:23. After Brown’s 3rd place, it was Kingswood’s Hunter Miller 4th, Caufield’s 5th, Plymouth’s Andrew Chabot 6th, Richards’ 7th, Windham’s Peter Caron 8th, Hollis-Brookline’s Cameron Jackson 9th and West’s Ehsun Farooq 10th. Although winning in 16:16 is not O’Brien’s best time, credit to him for putting team-first and overcoming the specter of last year’s DNF to become D2 champ. He must have run the fastest last 2 miles of the day.
For the first time since 2006 and the 6th time in Division 1 history, the Pinkerton Trail Blazers won the team title. Led by a very fast pack of five, separated by only 20 seconds, Pinkerton placed all 5 in the top 10 to score only 30 points with a team average of 19:10. The Vaillancourt sisters, Jordan and Ariel, placed 3rd and 4th with Maison D’Amelio 5th, Ciara April 8th and Morgan Sansing 10th.
For the third consecutive year, an Exeter girl is the fastest in D1, but this time it is sophomore sensation Jackie Gaughan in 18:19, 2nd fastest time of the day. Bedford’s Leya Salis finished in 18:28 but never really threatened Gaughan’s lead. Violet Sullivan, also of Exeter placed 6th, Concord’s Jennika Mannesto placed 7th, and Bishop Guertin’s Chloe Conway placed 9th.
Last year’s team champion, Bishop Guertin, led by Conway, held true to garner runner-up honors. A bit of a surprise, Alvirne placed 3rd with 140 points, while it was Concord squeaking by Merrimack for 4th, 158-159. Winnacunnet placed 6th, Bedford 7th, and Londonderry returns to the Meet of Champions placing 8th.
In one of the closest, most contested individual races in years, the boys Division 1 race was certainly the most entertaining of the day. With only the lower loop remaining, 5 seniors, defending champ Liam Kimball (Timberlane), Cameron Dickson (Londonderry), Justin Carbone (Exeter), and Pinkerton’s Nick Sevilla and Noah Davis, were all still vying for top harrier honors. Even over the penultimate crossing of the lower fields, 3 still had a legitimate shot at the title, but it was the grinder Kimball who opened up a slim margin that Sevilla could not overcome in the last straightaway to win 15:52.0 to 15:52.8. It was clear Kimball never felt comfortable with the win as he must have glanced over his shoulder 4 times in the final moments while fending off the hard charging Sevilla.
All totaled, the top 4 runners were within 7 seconds of each other and 6 within 11 seconds. Davis placed 3rd, Dickson 4th, Carbone wound up a strong 5th, while Concord’s Alexander Saveliev was a hard charging 6th. Rounding out the top 10 were Alvirne’s Kendall Westhoff 7th, Pinkerton’s Jeff Reddy 8th, Central’s Nolan Cooney 9th and Pinkerton’s Tom Hanlon 10th.
With 4 in the top 10 and 5 in the top 12 (Sam Lanternier was 12th), Pinkerton won comfortably with an incredible average time of 16:09.88 for their 3rd consecutive title and 9th in school history. This is the fastest average time since 2009 when Bishop Guertin averaged 16:08. Led by Dickson, Noah Shrank, and Jared Kane, Londonderry was the strong runner-up.
Nashua South won the battle of the city of Nashua by a slim 3 points over Nashua North 153-156, while the very young Concord Crimson Tide placed 5th. Claiming the final three spots in the MOCs were Alvirne, Keene and Timberlane.