Pics – Thanks Davio!
Race Videos at bottom of article
By Dave Irving
Low temperatures and fast times. Those were the themes at the 42nd annual Capital Area Cross Country Championship on Thursday. The wind, which earlier wreaked havoc on the course markings, died down and left the cold as the only wildcard, as athletes had to choose what to wear – go light and chilly or less light and warmer? With the November-esque temperatures came November-esque times. Six of the top 10 times run on the course (established in 2012) were run in both the boys and girls race.
The combined JV race started the afternoon off, and with Concord choosing to stay together as a team and skip the JV State Meet, the only question became how many of the top places would the Tide runners take? The answer; 13. Won by Ryan Ciesluk in 17:05, the Concord team likely would have placed second had they run in the varsity race. The girls portion of the JV race also saw a sweep of the top 5 by Concord, with Serena Britos crossing first in 21:23.
In upside-down Capital Area style, the boys were the first to toe the line in the varsity races. The race promised an October showdown between three boys who have each defeated the other in 2018, either directly or across the Manchester Merge; defending champion Forest MacKenzie of Concord, Eli Boesch-Dining of Concord, and David Reynolds of Merrimack Valley. The race went out conservatively quick up until just before the mile. Along with the big three, Patrick Guinee of the Tilton School, Brandon Langdon of John Stark, Matt Reynolds of MV, and Concord’s Aiden O’Hern, Ebin Bragg, David Cook, and Ryan Devine formed a front pack. At the mile, the tempo noticeably dropped and very quickly MacKenzie, Boesch-Dining and Reynolds were alone at the front, with Reynolds doing most of the pace-setting. Things began to align coming out of the ravine, with MacKenzie opening up with a little gap on his teammate, who in turn opened up a little gap on Reynolds. Things would stay that way all the way to the end…almost. MacKenzie powered his way to a second consecutive Capital Area Championship, breaking his own course record in 15:56. Coming into the final straightaway it looked like the top three would be identical to last year with the Concord duo finishing one-two, but Reynolds unleashed his now trademark kick just in time to snag the runner-up spot. The next 6 runners were all Concord with O’Hern, Bragg, Cook, and Devine grouped within 12 seconds of each other. Guinee was the only other athlete able to break up Concord’s top 7, finishing in 8th place, as Concord’s Brayden Kearns finished 9th, followed by Langdon of John Stark in 10th.
To no one’s surprise, Concord won the team competition with a paltry 19 points, followed by Bow, who demonstrated again their ability to compete for an MOC spot at next week’s DII meet. Kearsarge snagged the final spot on the podium, beating out perennial contender St. Paul’s School.
With the boys race finished, the girls next raced off into the woods. For much of the first mile there was a small pack of who’s who in local running, made up of Kearsarge’s Mya Dube (defending champ), MV’s Sophia Reynolds, Belmont’s Alice Riley (the lone senior in the group), Inter-Lakes Maya Wiel-Cooley, and Concord’s Morganne Orcutt. As they moved from the woods to the fields nearing the mile, Reynolds pushed the pedal all the way to the floor, and the group immediately disintegrated. Dube gave chase, however, and both girls flew through the mile in the 5:40’s. For the next mile and a half, it stayed that way, with Dube only 1-2 seconds behind, but unable to close the 10 meter gap. By the time they emerged from the woods with 1/3rd of a mile left, however, Reynolds had opened up a substantial lead, finishing in a monster course record of 18:22, over a minute off the old one. Dube, meanwhile, also crushed the old course record in 18:41, and demonstrated that she is a force to be reckoned with on a statewide level, not just in DIII. In an epic battle of their own, Riley and Orcutt finished with identical times, with Riley just outkicking for the bronze position. Weil-Cooley was just 10 seconds back, also posting an impressive time well under 20 minutes. Hopkinton’s Anna O’Reilly outdualed MV’s Emma York for 6th place to York’s 7th, followed by two more Hawks in Cailey Stockwell and Emma Rothe for 8th and 9th positions. Rounding out the top 10 was Gilford’s Catherine Stow. Amazingly, there were only 3 seniors in the top 25, indicating the times will continue to be quick in the Capital region.
Once again the favorite won, with Concord claiming it’s 7th straight title. While it wasn’t a surprise that Hopkinton placed second, it was a bit of a surprise how close they came to actually winning finishing only 7 points behind. Merrimack Valley placed third, claiming the final podium position.