The 2016 Manchester Middle School Invitational will be held on the 2.1 mile Frosh course at the famed Derryfield Park this Thursday afternoon beginning at 3:45. With over 400 runners and 25 teams from all three divisions contending, this is the biggest and most competitive middle school invitational in New Hampshire.
2015 NH Large School Champion and defending Manchester Invite Champion Londonderry boys, fresh off their recent decisive win at the Milford Invitational, looks to make it two in a row, but will have a bit more of a challenge this week. They will have to run their absolute best to defeat a very powerful Northwood squad. The Lakers are the new powerhouse team of the Southeast League and seem more than ready to take the reigns from 4-Time NH State Champion Deerfield. Deerfield has won this race two out of the last three years and placed second last year. After a runner-up finish last week at the Milford Invitational, much improved Rundlett of Concord looks to do battle again with Deerfield; however, this time for third place honors.
Individually, Londonderry has the top two returnees with Matt Griffin and Ryan Young. Northwood has the next three with Aidan Cox, Porter Heigis, and Luke Tkaczyk. 2016 Milford Invitational Champion Brayden Kearns of Deerfield will try to make it atop the podium again this week. A win by Kearns would make it three years in a row by a Deerfield harrier, joining him with 2014 Champion Forest MacKenzie and 2015 Champion Ryan Devine.
2016 Champion Hillside girls will be back to defend their title, but they will not be the favorites. Hillside of Manchester graduated their top two runners from last year, sisters Keegan and Katelyn Pepin, who placed 2nd and 3rd respectively. Amherst is now the overwhelming favorite this year. After placing four runners in the top ten at the Milford Invitational and all seven in the top twenty-two slots, their depth seems unparalleled.
The battle for second is what’s up for grabs this year. Just like on the
boy’s side, Rundlett girls are on everyone’s radar now.
There’s no hiding from the 2nd place showing last week, 10 points over 2015 State Champion McLaughlin at the Milford Invite. McLaughlin has all their girls back from last season and will be looking for some revenge. Division 3 powerhouses Hopkinton, Deerfield and Northwood can’t be overlooked and will add some surprises to the mix.
Two-time Small School State Champion and 2015 Manchester Middle School Invitational Champion Addison Cox of Northwood is the favorite to win again this year. Morgan Nault of McLaughlin fresh off her second place finish at Milford lnvite, along with Morgane Orcutt of Rundlett and Grace Jones of Elm Street could pose a significant challenge, but most likely for bridesmaid honors.