This year marks the fortieth time New Hampshire’s best cross country runners will gather to compete in the Meet of Champions.
It started with the advent of girls cross country. New Hampshire high schools have competed in boys cross country since at least the 1930s, but the first year of girls cross country was 1975. That year, 24 schools of all sizes competed in one girls division over a 1.7 mile course at UNH. Why only 1.7 miles instead of the 3 mile course boys ran? Hard to believe, but back then officials were concerned that girls didn’t have the stamina to run as far as the boys. Sue Collins of Littleton won the first state championship race in 9:44. Exeter took the first team title.
The next year, 1976, there were enough girls
teams that schools were split into two divisions. (Boys competed in four divisions.) That is also the year of the first Meet of Champions, featuring the best teams and individuals from all divisions. The division championships and the Meet of Champions were both held at UNH. The girls course was increased to 2 miles but was still a mile shorter than the boys race. Brothers Mark and Dean Kimball of Timberlane went 1-2 in the boys race (Mark Kimball is the father of 2016 Timberlane graduate Liam Kimball, who placed second in the MOC last year) and Laconia won the team title. Beth Clark of Bishop Brady won the individual girls’ race. Exeter again won the girls’ team title but did not get to go to New Englands. Why not? Because there was no New Englands for girls yet – only for boys. The first girls New England meet was held the following year, in 1977.
The Meet of Champions has been held every year since, with one exception. In 1977 the meet was again held at UNH. In 1978 it was moved to the White Mountain Country Club in Ashland. It moved again in 1979, when it was held at Derryfield Park in Manchester for the first time. Girls still ran a shorter, 2 mile course until 1980, when they moved up to the same distance the boys ran. The course was changed in 1983 to more or less the course we use today for the division meets, with the start moved to the bottom of the hill. (The course was tweaked again in the 1990s, when the section after the tower at two miles was re-routed to go through the woods instead of down the paved road.) The only time the meet was not held was 1995, when a storm caused the meet to be cancelled. Hence the meet is really 41 years old this year – but this is the fortieth time it is being run. (Wait until you’re in your forties, kids. You may re-celebrate your fortieth birthday a couple times, too.)
The following teams have qualified for at least 10 Meet of Champions appearances over those 41 years. For the full list of all appearances by school, see the linked spreadsheets for boys and girls.
*Note that this list is a little unfair to relatively new schools (Campbell, Windham, Bedford, Nashua North, Nashua South, Souhegan, Bow, Prospect Mt, and others). Note also that several schools have switched divisions over the years and may have qualified for the MOC out of different divisions in different years (Fall Mountain, Bow, and Pelham are examples).
|GIRLS – MOC||Total||BOYS – MOC||Total|
|Oyster River||34||Oyster River||29|
*These spreadsheets should be upwards of 95% accurate. When team place at the MOC was calculated, I have listed it as a number; when team scores were either not recorded or I don’t have them, I have noted it with an X or Y. I am missing girls results from 1980 and 1981 and have used Class Meet results to identify teams that should have made it. In a couple cases, teams that qualified for the Meet of Champs didn’t bother to go, so they don’t show up in the results. In a couple others, teams that qualified failed to score five runners and so may not appear in the team results and may have been left off.
Compiled by Fergus Cullen, Oyster River girls coach. Fergus@ferguscullen.com