By Jim MacKenzie
Hot and humid conditions ruled the day at the 2017 Nashua North-South Invitational. As always the very hospitable and gracious Nashua School District put on a crowd pleasing top notch race.
As predicted Manchester West’s Julia Robitaille shot to the lead and ran comfortably hard, cruising to victory in an outstanding time of 18:18. The battle for second place went to Pinkerton’s Meghan Cross (2nd 19:19.3), who squeaked past Keene’s Mikayla Randall (3rd 19:19.9). Hometown favorite Nashua South freshman Cali Coffin ran an impressive 19:27 to edge out Champlain Valley, Vermont junior Ella Whitman (5th 19:33). Manchester West’s Corrinne Robitaille placed 6th in 19:40 finishing in front of senior Kalin Gregoire of Londonderry (7th 19:43). Nashua North’s Arrianna Braccio (8th 19:46) and Merrimack’s Bailey Carrillo (9th 19:49) fended off the border from the Northwest Invasion of Vermont’s Champlain Valley’s Alice Larson (10th 19:50) and Jennifer Ireland (11th 20:02). Pinkerton’s Maison D’Ameilio and Jordan Vaillaincourt placed 12th and 13th in 20:10, while Alvirne’s Jessica Fontaine (20:15) and Merrimack’s Lauren Brennan (20:23) rounded out the top 15.
The team battle was a barnburner between the two powerhouse programs from Vermont and New Hampshire. As each team member crossed the finish line the score went back and forth with Champlain Valley’s 5th runner delivering the final come-from-behind knockout punch giving the girls from the Green Mountain State a hard fought 58-62 victory over Pinkerton. Merrimack placed 3rd with 82 points outdistancing Concord *4th 116 points) and Nashua South (5th 121 points).
Repeat was the word of the day on the boy’s side. 2016 Champion David Vorbach of Nashua North proved he is still the king of his domain, once again placing 1st in 16:02. The Titan senior powered to the lead and was never seriously challenged. Much like the girls race the battle was for second place. Concord Junior Forest MacKenzie ran most of the race by himself in “no man’s land” until the last four hundred yards when a pack of runners led by Pinkerton’s Joe Gagnon decided to make a race out of it with him. Gagnon pulled even for just a moment, before MacKenzie (2nd 16:18) turned on the jets and pulled away from Gagnon (3rd 16:20) and the chase pack.
A pair of Concord runners led by Eli-Boesch Dining (4th 16:24) and Nate Nichols (5th 16:31) sandwiched Nashua North runner Max Ireland (6th 16:33) with Concord’s Oliver Spencer (7th 16:34). Former soccer player Joseph Curran of Nashua North is a quick study placing 8th in 16:50 ahead of Champlain Valley’s Jared Leonard (9th 16:52) and David Cook of Concord rounded out the top ten in 16:55 just ahead of a pair of Londonderry freshmen both broke 17 minutes with William Heenan (11th 16:56) and Ryan Young (12th 16:59). A trio of Concord runners charged the finish Alex Duncan (13th 17:01), Matt O’Brien (14th 17:08) and freshman Brayden Kearns placed 15th in 17:11.
Last year Concord beat North by one point 45-46 to win. In a show of team strength this year, Concord lost a 1 point battle to “the field” 27-28; however, Concord won top honors again by placing 8 runners in the top 15 to score a paltry 28 points to North’s 66 points. The youth movement in Londonderry has begun by placing 3rd with 76 points finishing in front of border rival Pinkerton (99 points) and Vermont’s Champlain Valley finished 5th with 181 points.
In the first ever Middle School Division Chloe Trudel of Amherst Middle School placed first overall in 13:21, leading her team to victory 23-59 over Deerfield Community School. Deerfield’s John Murphy placed first in 12:49 leading Deerfield Community School to a close 70-90 win over host Nashua’s Elm Street.