This year’s race marks the 40th New England Championship for girls cross country. There have been boys championships dating back to the 1930s, this year marks the 82nd, but the first women’s race didn’t take place until 1977.
Over four decades the meet has grown from 12 teams representing three states (Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire) to 30 teams drawn from five states. Connecticut joined the party in 1986. Maine sent teams at first, then didn’t participate for nearly two decades, then started sending individuals in 1998 and teams in 2005. Hope remains that one of these years, Massachusetts will toughen up adjust its championships schedule to join the meet, as the Commonwealth does with indoor and outdoor track.
The Keene boys are heading to New Englands for the first time in a dozen years, and the Concord boys return to the New Englands after a five year drought. The rest of the boys teams are veterans. This is Pinkerton’s twelfth year in a row at New Englands; that’s why they call it the Long Red Line. Oyster River’s streak is now at seven years in a row. This is Coe-Brown’s fourth consecutive year qualifying. MOC champ Nashua North went last year as well.
The Merrimack girls will be making their first-ever team appearance at New Englands this weekend. On the other end of the experience scale, the Pinkerton girls are going for the 27th time and the fourth year in a row. Bishop Guertin and Coe-Brown extended their streaks to 9 consecutive New England appearances. D-2 and MOC winner Souhegan is going for the third year in a row. Alvirne has qualified in back-to-back seasons. Those are some impressive streaks but consider this: The Manchester Central girls once made New Englands 28 years in a row (1984-2012).
Here are the teams with the most New England appearances over the past 40 years, from 1977 to the present:
|BOYS – NEs||Total||GIRLS – NEs||Total|
|Oyster River||12||Bishop Guertin||12|
|White Mountains||2||Merrimack Valley||1|
Compiled by Fergus Cullen, the Oyster River girls coach. Fergus@ferguscullen.com