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By Coach Mike Smith
While the weather was cool and wet, the racing was hot at the 14th Annual Black Bear Invitational at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy in Northwood, NH. A drastic change in weather from last week’s racing, the Black Bear acts as the opening act for the second half of the cross country season. And with some of the top teams in the state in both the middle and high school ranks through all divisions, expectations were high for some great racing.
Things got off hot with the girls middle school race where Andover’s Sophia Reynolds went right to the front, stringing out the pack immediately. Following in the second slot, and opening a gap over the second half was Hillside’s Fiona Doherty, then back to a chase pack of about seven deep. This is the way the race would stay with Reynolds winning in 11 minutes, 40 seconds, fifty-six seconds up on Doherty. Reynolds broke the course record by 1 second, which was set at last year’s Division III MS State Championships by Addison Cox. The battle for third place was won by Sophie Hopkins of Deerfield, followed by Mary Roy of Northwood and Mallory Taylor of Strafford.
Deerfield won this one easy, placing their top five in the top twelve, settling with a score of 40 to 93 over Hillside. Third team in was Oyster River with 109 points, then Boynton with 117. Round out the top five was Strafford with 120 points.
Running on his home course and arguably one of the best middle schoolers in New Hampshire ever, Northwood’s Aidan Cox stepped on the accelerator from the gun, shooting to the front as the racers left the starting field. Already well in control by the half mile with a comfortable lead of 70 meters, Cox was clear to roll hard. A small pack of three, Oyster River’s Amani Harvey, Portsmouth’s Avery Crowell and Boynton’s Connor Traffie gamely tried to keep Cox in view, with the rest of the field chasing hard. In the end Cox blistered the course, running 10 minutes, 16 seconds, besting Harvey by fifty-six seconds as well and breaking his previous course record. Crowell and Traffie would follow closely, with Strafford’s Lars Hogne filling the fifth position.
Oyster River boys would win this one, 50 to 76 over Deerfield, with their top five in the top twenty. The third team in was Boynton (83), followed by Northwood (94) and Kingswood (140.)
Next up was the Girls JV race, and the teams rolling in this one wanted the outcome to be in question from the start. Gabby Allen of Phillips Exeter got things rolling, shadowed by Caitlin Trott and Blair Carlson of Winnacunnet. The trio would continue to lay down some solid splits, setting a standard for the girls in the varsity race to aim for. Allen would stretch things out, with Trott trying to bridge the gap, and Allison staving off the rest of the competition. In the end, it was Allen with the win in 21 minutes, 46 seconds, trailed by Trott and Allison. Oliva Lazorik of Phillips Exeter would finish fourth and Emma Quint of Kennett finished in fifth. All in all, four teams made up the top 8, four from each of the schools of Phillips Exeter, Winnacunnet, Kennett, and Oyster River.
This all led to some interesting scoring, with Phillips Exeter winning convincingly with 39 to78 over Oyster River. Kennett (88), Coe-Brown (111) and Winnacunnet ( 117) rounded out the top five.
Knowledge of the course and great coaching helped in the Boys JV race, where Oyster River’s Patrick Lyons took it out, shadowed by the duo of Coe-Brown’s Logan Mihelich and Jacob Spainhower. Over the ensuing miles Mihelich and Spainhower worked together to catch Lyons, and put him away on the CB’s infamous single track. Mihelich wins this one in 18 minutes even, 13 seconds up on his teammate Spainhower. Lyons finishes third, with Sam Kim of Phillips Exeter and Aidan Ahern of Coe-Brown rounding out the top five.
Coe-Brown ran away with this one, 25 to 63, over Winnacunnet, with Phillips Exeter beating Oyster River, 78 to 78 in a tie breaker for third. Bishop Guertin finished fifth in 234.
The girls varsity race promised to be a barnburner, with Milford’s Rebecca Durham out to prove she is one of the state’s best. After her breakthrough performance at MI43 last Saturday, there was talk of Durham breaking the course record set by Bishop Guertin’s Caroline Fischer last year. Expected to be in hot pursuit was BG’s Fischer, Addison Cox of CB and Danielle Slavin of Oyster River. Fischer did not toe the line, leaving Durham to her own determinations, and that meant going right to the front. Hammering from the start, Durham built up a sizable lead by the mile, cruising well ahead of the pack from the half mile mark on. She would win in 18 minutes, 9 seconds, followed by Slavin and Cox almost a minute in arrears. Con Val’s Rachel Hurley had a breakthrough performance to finish fourth, with BG putting the next three runners in, Haley Schmitt, Caroline Towle, and Kate Messer in next.
However, Coe-Brown (NH#4) won this one, putting its top five in the top thirty, scoring 65 to Bishop Guertin’s (NH#1) 81 points. Con Val (NH #5) would come in third (141), with two in the top ten, followed by Manchester Central (148) and NH#7 Oyster River (151).
In the men’s race, Evan Tanguay wasted no time showing he meant business on his home course, taking the race out from the start. His early push whittled down the contenders, creating a chase pack of Kieran Murphy of Oyster River, David Reynolds from Merrimack Valley and Jeffrey Allen of Campbell. While Tanguay tried to get away, the trio of Murphy, Reynolds and Allen would not shake. With less than half a mile to go, Murphy and Reynolds were ready to strike, and over the ensuing meters Murphy would assert himself in the front, winning in 16 minutes, 18 seconds. Reynolds would move into second, nine seconds back, trailed by Tanguay one second adrift. Allen would maintain fourth, and Henry Keegan of Oyster River would finish fifth.
In a contest that featured four teams that have been ranked in this year’s top ten, Oyster River (NH#3) demolished the field, with a super low score of 31 to beat Coe-Brown’s (NH#5) 96 point total. Oyster River put all of their top seven in the top twenty, stamping their mark on D2, and sending up a warning shot to Concord and Keene in D1. Winnacunnet (NH#10)would finish third with 122 points, while Phillips Exeter would beat out Mascenic (NH#8) on a tie breaker, each with 136 points.