Karen Thurber’s Pics
By Mike Smith
Under beautiful fall conditions, the 35th “Jeri Blair” Invitational got off to a quick start with 23 schools in attendance. The 5142 meter course, one of the toughest in NH, was in great condition, but was going to be tested by the shear number of athletes that were about to traverse the trails. With 139 girls and 209 boys finishing the race, the single track portions of the course were about to get pretty populated.
The girls race got off to a quick start, even though last year’s winner, Kristie Schoffield of Merrimack Valley was not in attendance. Picking up the slack were first time competitors at the Blair, Hanover, who went straight to the front from the gun. With five girls in the front at 200 meters, there was no question what the Marauders had in mind. The chase pack was made up of Belmont’s Alice Riley, the Mascenic duo of Madison Labrie and Samantha Bilodeau, Conant’s Isabella Mormando, Joelle Lafreniere and Sadie Larenz from Monadnock and a host of others.
By the second lap, Hanover had the power up front. Lisa Glueck and Leila Trummel, had opened a slight gap back to Belmont’s Riley, with a string of chasers attacking those who went too hard in the first lap. One notable casualty was Mascenic’s Bilodeau, who exited the race after one lap.
As the racers came back around finishing up the single track hill for the second time, Gluek and Trummer were well clear, finishing 1-2, with Glueck winning in 20:29. Riley was in next, solidly the first Division 3 runner by 37 seconds over Monadnock’s freshman phenom Larenz. Avery Scully of Sanborn, Sare Campbell of Moultonborough, Sadie Linglebach-Pierce of Hanover, Leah Dutkewych of White Mountains, Emma Rothe of Hopkinton, and Isabella Mormando of Conant rounded out the top ten.
With three in the top 7, Hanover ran away with this one, 34 to 117 over Monadnock, proving the new teams this year added quality to the race. The Kearsarge women were third with 148, and Merrimack Valley edged Hopkinton, 165 to 165, with MV winning the tie break with their sixth runner.
On the men’s side the race looked like it was shaping up to be a preview of the Division 3 championships with the anticipated top three teams of Kearsarge, Monadnock and Mascenic in attendance. Individually the race would also pit three of the top individual contenders in Mascenic’s Jake Movsessian, Monadnock’s James Elmour and Moultonborough’s Tyler McLaughlin against each other for the first time this year. And when the gun went off, those three went right to the front.
With 209 guys in the race, the first 500 meters was a sea of athletes trying to establish themselves among the many competitors. Elmour had the early lead, shadowed by Movsessian, with a host of Monadnock and Kearsarge guys lurking in the top twenty. It was apparently going to be a slugfest between these two top ten ranked teams and it seemed neither team was taking any prisoners.
By the second loop, Elmour and Movsessian had started to create a small break back to McLaughlin which was only to grow quickly as the leaders hit the gas going into loop 2. The Monadnock duo of Dawson Adams and Braeden Huot were working their way through the field with Hanover’s Morgan Boughmann. Monadnock seemed to be in control at this time, with no Kearsarge runners in the top ten. The next 2000 meters would tell the tale.
Coming off the last hill and with 500 meters to go, Elmour had a gap back to Movsessian ,who had a gap back to the hard charging trio of Boughman, Adams and McLaughlin. Elmour would win this one in 17:03 by 16 seconds. The top five would be followed by Monadnock’s Huot, Hopkinton’s Simon Doneski, David Reynolds of Merrimack Valley, Nick Randos of Belmont, and Kearsarge’s Mason Benedict.
As the bodies piled in, it was obvious that Monadnock had the lower sticks in this race but Kearsarge had the better grouping. In the end the low stick won out, 65 to 79, with Mascenic back in third with 107. Hanover was fourth with 176 and Moultonborough was fifth with 193.