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Results Courtesy of LancerTiming
All-Time Lists Courtesy of Fergus Cullen
Okay, we thought last year was fast. We thought last year was a race which would be hard to beat with regards to times, teams, and weather. Well, we were wrong. When NH has the fastest runner in the country and her heir apparent clipping at her heels, the field tends to get pulled through as well. While some thought Exeter’s Jackie Gaughan would run her last XC race in NH a bit conservatively, they were absolutely wrong as Gaughan smashed her own course record and broke the 17:00 barrier once again this year posting a 16:51. She is the second NH girl to do so. Cathy Schiro (O’Brien) ran 16:46 (course record) at Van Cortlandt Park in 1984. Much of the credit for this specific race belongs to West’s Julia Robitaille who applied pressure on Gaughan through most of the race. For her efforts, Robitaille, only a junior, is faster than the 2016 Gaughan as she broke Gaughan’s 2016 record (17:14). Are we looking at an athlete who could break Gaughan’s new record the very next year??
Last year we saw a feisty Caroline Fischer be the one to push Gaughan throughout the season and post a time of 17:43. Yesterday, in just her 3rd race back due to injury, Fischer exhibited guts but also intelligence by running conservatively over the first half and simply competing. She was only a few seconds slower than last year placing third in 17:47 pulling away from Souhegan’s Jane Leighton and South’s Cali Coffin in the final straight. Leighton could be a candidate for ‘most improved’ as she ran 17:49, a full minute faster than last year while Coffin lay claim as NH’s top freshman running an impressive 18:00.
That pack of three pulled away from Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin and Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox. In the end the senior’s strength would be too much for the freshman as Slavin strided away from Cox in the final 400 or so meters to place sixth in 18:07 to Cox’s 18:14. Cox really had to dig deep to finish ahead of a fast closing pack which included Pinkerton’s Meghan Cross (8th, 18:14) and Lauren Robinson (9th, 18:16). While Leighton is a candidate for most improved, Robinson should be the winner as she placed 76th last year running 20:43! That is a 2:27 improvement!
Displaying the best top three, BG’s Haley Schmitt placed 10th in 18:21 and Caroline Towle was 11th in 18:22. Rounding out the top 15 were West’s Corinne Robitaille (12th, 18:24), D3 Champ Kearsarge’s Mya Dube (13th, 18:25), Souhegan’s Arielle Zlotnick (14th, 18:26), and Milford’s Rebecca Durham (15th, 18:26).
In what was a great cross country day, the teams battled for every spot as well. Akin to last year, Souhegan (NH#3) ran an even better race than Divisions to repeat as champions. Unlike last year, it was by only 5 points over D1 Champ Pinkerton (NH#1). With Leighton (Souhegan) and Cross (Pinkerton) both placing in the top 10, the Trail Blazers had to be feeling pretty good about their performance as they had the first five across the finish line. However, Souhegan’s top three of Leighton, Arielle Zlotnick, and Marissa Romano (18th, 18:28) proved to be the difference as they all placed in front of Pinkerton’s second and third scorers Jordan Vaillancourt (26th, 18:49) and Britney Johnson (27th, 18:56). Talk about seesaw-battle, PA’s fourth scorer, Ciara April (33rd, 19:11) placed in front of Souhegan’s fourth Elise Lambert (44th, 19:30), who had PA’s Maison D’Amelio (47th, 19:33) hot on her heels. With Souhegan’s Mackenzie Hayden concluded the scoring for the top 2 by placing 53rd in 19:41. Both teams should factor in at next week’s New Englands.
Division 2 was well represented as Coe-Brown (NH#4) and Oyster River (NH#5) placed 3rd and 4th respectively. Talk about close, the Route 4 rivals were separated by only 4 points this week and both recorded average times of 19:09! While Slavin and Cox essentially balanced each other, so did OR’s Olivia Lenk (28th, 18:57) and CBNA’s Abigail O’Connor (29th, 18:58). CBNA’s Eleanor McDonough placed 32nd (19:09). OR’s Sophie Sullivan placed 38th (19:18) while CBNA’s Ella Malone unleashed a strong kick to place 46th in 19:33. Oyster River countered with Lily Doody placing 51st in 19:37 as CBNA senior Sarah Dupuis closed out the scoring placing 62nd in 19:53. It simply doesn’t get much closer than this as Oyster River qualified for New England’s for the first time since 2004.
Without the services of freshman Kate Messer, Bishop Guertin (NH#2)placed a close 5th with 151 points. Just as close, Merrimack (NH#7) edged Nashua South (NH#6) for the final New England berth 186-191.
The boys’ race got off to a blazing start, with D3 Champ Jeffrey Allen taking the race out HARD, building a lead of about 30 meters only 500 meters into the race. It appeared at first the pack was going to leave him to his own devices, and focus more on the team challenge; however, Nashua North’s David Vorbach felt the pace at the front shouldn’t go unchallenged. By the mile Vorbach was in charge, with a pack of contenders sitting back waiting for the late race fade seen in last week’s race.
In that pack hung the Concord contingent or Forest MacKenzie, Eli Boesch Dining, and Oliver Spencer, Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt, Moultonborough’s Tyler McLaughlin, Coe-Brown’s Evan Tanguay, Windham’s Spenser Sawyer, Merrimack Valley’s David Reynolds, and Vorbach’s teammate Max Ireland, followed by a huge chase pack that’s essentially a “Who’s Who” of the best in New Hampshire. As they headed out onto the single track and the downhill stretch out to the 180 degree turn at the highway bridge all eyes were on Vorbach and the expected diminishing lead.
However, as they came back along the canal, Vorbach’s lead wasn’t shrinking, but might have been growing. As the chase pack approached the two-mile mark and only a mile of racing left, an effort to go after the front materialized with the Concord duo of MacKenzie and Boesch Dining, Ireland, Reynolds and Tanguay rolling down the paved bike path and back onto the grass field for the final 1000 meter push.
Probably benefiting the most from Allen’s early escort, Vorbach wasn’t to be caught and continued to pull away. Clear of the field and in no danger of being reeled in, Vorbach kept the pedal to the floor, scorching this one in 15 minutes, 30.4 seconds. In the battle that ensued for second, it was Vorbach’s teammate Max Ireland who detonated the most powerful kick to finish in 15:37, followed by D1 champ MacKenzie (15:38), Reynolds (15:41) and Pinkerton’s Joe Gagnon (15:42) Rounding out the top ten were Boesch Dining (15:42), Tanguay (15:44), Jake Winslow of Exeter (15:48), Sawyer (15:49.2) and Spenser (15:49.9.)
Like the girls race, boys race was much faster than than 2016 overall as 14 runners broke 16 minutes compared to 5 last year while 78 that broke 17 minutes compared to 69 last year. On the boys side, the youth movement is on. Expect things to get even faster in the coming years.
NH#1 Concord dominated the boy’s race in historical fashion, putting all scoring five in the top thirty, with four in the top ten, scoring a low of 51 to win their first MOC title since 1987! They recorded the fastest team average time of 15:53 in MOC history. Supporting their top three were Matthew O’Brien (12th, 15:55), Ryan Devine (30th, 16:24), David Cook (33rd, 16:26), and Nate Nichols (46th, 16:38).
For the second consecutive year, Nashua North (NH#6) blazed their home course this time to place second with 110 points, led by Vorbach and Ireland (1-2) and supported by Joe Curran in 11th, Gediyon Prince (39th) and Yassine Jakib (83rd.) The remaining four New England berths would be separated by only 19 points as third would go to our preview’s darkhorse, Keene, scoring 138 points, running without their #1 Jake Velasquez. Only two points back in fourth was D2 Champ Oyster River (NH #2) with 140 points. Led by NH’s top freshman, Will Heenan (15th, 16:02), fifth went to Londonderry (NH #5) with 154 points and the final New England berth would go to Coe-Brown (NH#3) with 157 points.
-Mike Smith & NHCC