2017 Oyster River Bobcat Invitational: Hay Bales, History, Humidity & Racing
That’s right! To place an exclamation point on moving the storied Bobcat Invitational to nearby Tibbett’s Field and the Powder Major IMG_3065Forest in Madbury , ORHS girls’ coach Fergus Cullen added hay bales and Revolutionary War reenactors, complete with muskets as the special starters for each race! Both additions were huge successes as the set of hay bales presented a bit like a water barrier in the steeplechase featuring huge crowds trying to catch the unique form of many runners. The musket fire to start each race furthered the feel of the day despite the challenge of humidity the runners faced.
While the winner of the boys’ team competition was no surprise, the individual champ was of sorts. Off the start, Campbell’s Jeffrey Allen established himself as the front runner leading an eventual pack of four consisting of OR’s Kieran Murphy, Merrimack Valley’s David Reynolds, and Tilton’s Patrick Guinee through the second set of hay bales (approx. 1.5 miles). OR’s Max Stenslie led the chase pack of teammate Andy O’Brien (OR), Dylan Khalil (Sanborn), Josh Thompson (Dover) and Kingswood teammates Wyatt Pooler and Cameron Stinchfield.
The question among spectators pondered who would come out of the second woods loop with the lead. Making a pre-planned move at around the 2-mile mark, it was MV’s Reynolds, who had opened up quite the gap splintering the pack of four with about 1400 meters remaining. Reynolds would go on to win in 16:28. He was followed by OR transfer Murphy (16:43), and Tilton’s Guinee (16:58). Stenslie came up to nab Allen with a lean at the finish both posting 17:07. In 6th was Pooler (17:18) with O’Brien (17:28), Khalil (17:30), Thompson (17:32) and MV’s Matt Reynolds (17:32) rounding out the top 10.
In the team competition, as predicted, Oyster River was victorious on their home turf; however, it was Winnacunnet making their case for a top 10 ranking as they used strong pack running with their top 4 being separated by an insane 3 seconds. With Colin Donnelly, Noah Taracena, Jack Taylor, and Hayden O’Hara taking the 13th-16th positions in 17:38-17:41, the Warriors looked full of potential. If their fifth runner, Austin Denis (18:15), could join them and that pack could move up, they will be in business.
But it was a Bobcat pack of their own which supported Murphy, Stenslie and O’Brien. Ben Stone, Parker Spinney and Owen Fleischer were able to stick right behind the Winnacunnet 4 to take home the title posting times of 17:59, 18:00, and 18:02 respectively.
On the girls side, Milford’s Rebecca Durham wasted no time bolting to the lead. Seemingly floating over the course, Durham even looked effortless negotiating the hay bales, winning going away in 18:28. Upon the start, Souhegan’s Jane Leighton and Arielle Zlotnick immediately gave chase to Durham essentially stringing out the field. Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin, Milford’s Lauren Robinson also gave chase both in solo fashion. And that’s the order they finished with Leighton in 19:26, Zlotnick 19:47, Slavin 20:10, and Robinson 20:25.
Oyster River teammates Olivia Lenk (20:41) and Sophie Sullivan (20:41) worked as a dynamic duo battling Campbell’s Caitlyn Callinan (20:43) to place 6th and 7th . Spaulding’s Abby Ward (20:59), Souhegan’s Marissa Romano (21:02), Oyster River’s Lily Doody (21:06) and Campbell’s Cassie Hemming (21:10) led a hard fought battle for the top 10.
In the team competition, predictably Souhegan won, but not in impressive fashion as one may have thought as host Oyster River tied them through the first four finishers 28-28. Yes Souhegan’s Leighton and Zlotnick finished ahead of Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin, but then both Lenk and Sullivan finished ahead of Romano (Souhegan’s 3rd), who was closely followed by OR’s Doody! In the end, Souhegan’s depth won out as their 5th runner, Adriana Zlotnick (21:21) finished within 10 seconds behind their 4th runner Elise Lambert (21:13). Regardless, this performance establishes Oyster River as a contender for the D2 title this year.