By Mike Smith
Photos! Courtesy of Davio DeLuca
On a cool, September day, with threatening clouds giving way to occasional showers, the Nashua North Invitational was rocking and rolling as the Varsity races got going. With a full plate on the day, the Mine Falls course was in fantastic shape unlike the last time many of the day’s participants ran on it. In the slop and the slime of Fall cross country 2019, many racers were looking to put those demons behind them and get to work running fast times on the Nashua South turf.
The Varsity racing got going with the girls race and a number of NH top ten teams in attendance. # 3 Bedford would make a surprise appearance, along with #5 Concord, # 6 Central, #8 Londonderry, and #10 Salem. Also racing for the first time on the MOC course in a year was South’s Cali Coffin, last year’s winner who had to sit out the end of last season with an injury.
By 400 meters, Coffin had established herself at the front of the pack, with Bedford’s Carly Rinko a few meters in arrears. Concord’s Morgane Orcutt, Merrimack’s Adele Alexander, Groton Dunstable’s Sydney Adams and the duo of Londonderry’s Grace McDonough and Caitlin Boufford, along with a pack from Concord which made up the chase pack. But by the mile, Coffin was all alone, back to Rinko, who had a 30 meter lead on the field.
The race would pretty much stay to form, with Coffin winning this one handily in 18:36. Rinko would best the rest, running 18:48. Orcutt would be third, followed by Adams and Alexander. The rest of the top ten were McDonough, Bouford, Sophie Hopkins of Concord, Kimmie Harding of G-D, and Natalie Coryea of Salem.
In the team results, Concord would win handily over Bedford, 60 to 85. Nashua South (99), Londonderry (109), and Salem (115) would round out the top five.
The boy’s race would see #3 team Concord, #6 Winnacunnet, #7 Londonderry, and #8 Nashua North. And while a lot of the big guns were in this race, the men would get off to a slower start, with Bishop Guertin’s Carson Bottomley leading the way at 400 meters. The front pack, sitting right behind him included, Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt, North’s Joe Curran and Yassine Jakib, Pinkerton’s Luke Brennan and Stephen Connelly, Londonderry’s Ryan Young and Matt Griffin, along with Concord’s Ryan Devine and Dave Cook. A mile in saw Curran and Vaillancourt assuming the lead, with the Londonderry boys, the Pinkerton boys and the Concord boys battling each other for position behind the front. This arrangement held true until the turn around out on the canal when Vaillancourt and Curran created a bit of separation rendering it a two person race.
Just after the bridge, Vaillancourt made a hard move that broke things up, gapping Curran and splintering the chase pack. His lead would grow to about 30 meters over the last 1000 meter grass interval and by 300 to go, it looked like the win was in the bag. But Curran wasn’t done and launched a final drive that would bring him within 9/10th of a second of the win. Vaillancourt would win in 15:41, less than five seconds off the meet record set last year by Concord’s Forrest MacKenzie. Behind Vaillancourt and Curran, Concord’s Eben Bragg would work his way through the field for third, with Pinkerton’s Brennan and Connelly rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th place would be occupied by Londonderry’s Young and Griffin, Concord’s Devine, Londonderry’s Will Heenan, and Concord’s Cook.
The battle for team honors was ridiculously close, with Londonderry squeaking out a win, 50 to 51, over Concord. Pinkerton would be 9 back with 60. North (97) and Merrimack (128) would round out the top five.
South’s Grace Harris and Tyngsborough’s Max Gregoire would win the JV races, in 21:14 and 18:10. Laura White of Pennichuck and Jesse Bordelon of Elm St. won the MS “A” races in 13:30 and 11:43.
Full Results – courtesy of LancerTiming