By Jim MacKenzie
The 7th Annual Manchester Middle School Invitational is upon us once again. The race will be held at Derryfield Park at 3:45 pm on the same 2.1 mile course that the freshman will be running on this upcoming Saturday. Over 25 teams from all over the state will be competing for individual and team honors. The top twenty will receive awards and the top three teams will win trophies. This year there will be chip timing to accommodate the vast amount of runners in each race. Last year there was over 500 participants in the boy’s race. All three divisions will be well represented and the competition should be fierce.
Fresh off her one second victory at the Nashua North Invitational, Amherst’s Masho Primmer looks to be the slim favorite this year. After finishing 3rd place last year along with the graduation of last year’s winner and runner-up Sophia Reynolds of Andover and Primmer’s teammate Chloe Trudel, Primmer looks to do battle again with yet another teammate Stephanie Svendsen. Svendsen didn’t run this race last year but finished 4th in Division II in 2018 while Primmer finished 2nd. Deerfield’s Sophie Hopkins and Bella Lemay will compete as always and keep the pace honest. Other contenders will be Northwood’s Mary Joy, Strafford’s Mallory Taylor and Sheldyn Fisher, Hood’s Emily Hood, West Running Brook’s Grace Jellow, Rundlett’s Molly Nyhan and Emma Rossi of McLaughlin.
The girl’s team champion looks to be a close one. Division II Champion Amherst looks to be a slight favorite over Division III Champion Deerfield because of their victory over Deerfield at Nashua North Invitational. However, Deerfield won the Capital Area Middle School Invitational the night before in a close battle over a tough Rundlett team. McLaughlin is always tough in Manchester and let’s not forget defending champion Hillside. Londonderry with its strength in numbers is always is in the hunt.
The boy’s race will feature two time winner and course record holder Aidan Cox of Northwood. His time of 11:21 would be one of the fastest ever even in the history of the freshman race. Cox fresh off a 35th place (1st in the youth division) finish overall this past weekend in the USATF New England Championships in Providence, RI. posted a time of 15:56 for the 5k loop road race course. Cox will race the clock once again to see how low he can go.
The race for second should be a good one. Northwood’s Tyler Tkaczyk looks to grind it out with Hillside’s Quinn Booth. Nashua North Invitational Champion Kariso Anderson and runner-up Bobby Canaway of Nashua Catholic should be in the mix along with the Londonderry duo of Sean Clegg and Rolen Sanderson.
The team race looks to be between Capital Area Invitational Champions Rundlett, led by Quinton Pincoske and Liam Gleason, and Nashua North Invitational Champions Amherst. Division III Champion Deerfield finished second to both of these teams last week, led by a much improved Boden Rand and will look to even the score. Defending Manchester Invitational Champion Londonderry has three of the top ten returnees and last year’s runner-up Hillside is in their own backyard with four solid scorers back.
Good luck to all the future stars of New Hampshire Cross Country as we will see many Little Manchester alumni race with the big kids this coming Saturday at the 44th Manchester Invitational.