HERE WE GO!!! The 45th Manchester Invitational! You ready??? We are!!!
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Millennium Running’s Live Results
Girls Small School @ 12:00
Last year, Immaculate of Connecticut made the trek to NH and wrested the Small School Title from South Kingstown, RI. Well, this year Immaculate is not attending, but not sure if that would matter as South Kingstown returns 5 of 7 and is currently ranked #2 in Rhode Island. They will be relying on their strong pack comprised of Kyle Fish, Isabelle McDonald, Erin Hurley and Ellen Galoob.
Which NH team can challenge and defend our home turf? Souhegan, NH’s #5 ranked team, will look to do just that. Last week at the Bobcat Invite, they placed a close 2nd led by Chloe Trudel’s individual victory. But they are not all about one individual, as they are a proven NH perennial contender. Mackenzie Hayden was a strong 4th last week followed by great potential in their 3-4-5 runners with freshman Masho Primmer, Ellen Herrero and Adrianna Zlotnick. If these three can shrink the Saber compression a bit, they should podium at least.
Hopkinton is the other NH team currenly ranked at #9 in the state. With their strong pack, they were leading the team competition midway through last week’s Bobcat. If they can hold together through 2 miles on Derryfield, look out! Don’t be surprised if Mya Dubie led Kearsarge also makes their presence known.
Other out-of-state teams to watch include Vermont’s #5 and #8 ranked teams, U-32 and BFA-St. Albans respectively. U-32 is led by Mary Lamb and Lana Page. Never count out perennial Maine power Greely either when looking at the small school division.
Individually, the small school girls race is loaded. Just looking at NH, defending champ MV’s Sophia Reynolds returns and she has been flanked by her freshman teammate Sophia Rebenciuc over this early season. Reynolds’ familiar competitor, Kearsarge’s Dubie, who has looked effortless over the young season. Also, barely breathing after her victory last week was Trudel. Look for Dubie and Trudel to battle up front with Reynolds and Rebenciuc hunting a bit. Portsmouth Christian’s Liza Corso should be watched as well.
Possibly joining the lead pack from out of state could be Greely’s Marin Provencher, U-32’s Lamb and Page, as well as South Kingstown’s Fish and McDonald. The chase pack could include OR’s Lily Doody, PCA’s Brianna Malone, among others.
Boys Small School @ 12:30
Last year, the Oyster River Bobcats claimed the Small School title rather easily as they placed 4 in the top 30 with Andy O’Brien taking 5th overall. This year they are presenting even stronger as NH’s #2 ranked team and the potential to score 3 in the top 10. O’Brien is the second top returner, but both Myles Carrico and Owen Fleischer have looked strong in the early going this season with Carrico placing 3rd at last week’s Bobcat. With a consistent supporting cast of Henry Duisberg, Dillon Labonte among others, Oyster River looks like they should repeat and keep the MI Small School title in Durham.
Maine #3 Greely could be the biggest challenge to the Oyster River quest to repeat. Don’t overlook Vermont’s BFA-St. Albans either as they are led by Riley Mahar and Ethan Mashtare. They are currently ranked #4 in Vermont.
A pair of Division 2 state ranked teams should also be considered contenders as #9 Con-Val, led by Harrison Kim and #10 Hanover will also make their presence felt. Mascenic and Kearsarge are D3 teams currently unranked, but yearly each program improves.
Individually, Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt is coming off a huge win and is riding the momentum wave into Saturday. He of course will face stiff in-state competition from OR’s Andy O’Brien and Myles Carrico. Sanborn’s Dylan and Jared Khalil will also certainly be in the front pack. Look for Con-Val’s Harrison Kim as well as Mahar, Mashtare and Woodstock’s Riley Sheppard from Vermont.
Girls Large School @ 1:00
In 2017, the Manchester Invitational Girls Large School race took on the feel of a Border Clash between Vermont and NH as 12 state ranked teams went head to head. That was a bit disrupted last year as Derryfield was hosting New Englands so a bunch of RI and CT schools made the trek to preview the course. Looks like 2019 will mirror 2017 as 13 ranked schools between the two states (with a top ranked school fixing to crash the party) will wage XC battle on Saturday.
The favorite status is squarely on the shoulders of Champlain Valley as they are geared towards capturing their 4 consecutive MI title. They are currently ranked #2 in all the Northeast, were featured in New England Runner’s preview issue and are aiming for a return trip to Nike Cross Nationals later this fall. Led by Alice Larson and Alicia Veronneau, they are always tough at Derryfield as the most recent trip won them their 5th New England title.
But this season is early, so one never knows. Looks like their largest threat should come from Maine’s #1 team Bonny Eagle. They placed 6th last year and 13th at New Englands. They are led by Delaney Hesler and Emmaline Pendleton who are coming off early season wins generating momentum. Another threat could be from their own state as the #2 team, Essex will also be making the trip. Led by Natalie Preston, they at the next top returning team as they placed 5th last year at MI. Other Vermont teams competing are #3 Burlington, #7 St. Johnsbury and #10 South Burlington.
So where does that leave NH? With early season injuries as well as coaches giving freshmen the spotlight in the popular frosh races at the beginning of the day, sometimes it is a surprise how teams perform. But, what we do know is we will see current #1 Exeter in action at Derryfield. Led by Grace Mercier and Grace Jordan, the Blue Hawks have quite the team which won the MOCs last year. Look for them provide an affirmation they are one of the best teams in the state.
NH #2 Coe-Brown will also return to the Large School race and despite not having their top runner in Addison Cox, they have performed quite well demonstrating great depth and unity. One of the teams with the potential for big question marks because of the freshmen races is #3 Concord; however, all their top runners are listed as running the varsity race. Fresh off their win at Nashua North Invite, they could be rolling well enough to make the podium. Especially led by Morgane Orcutt, her experience could provide valuable leadership to the young upstart team.
Giving Concord a run last week was Bedford, led by Carly Rinko, so don’t be surprised to see them in the mix. Cali Coffin returned to action and got the individual win at Nashua and in turn propelled Nashua South into the top 10 rankings for NH at #7. They are ranked right behind the tightly packed Keene (#6), which did not compete at Nashua last week. However, the Londonderry Lancers led by Grace McDonough and Caitlin Boufford finished just 10 points behind South last week. Londonderry in turn only beat Salem, NH’s #10 team by 6 points. So even if CVU and Bonny Eagle make it an out-of-state show up front, Granite State teams will still have plenty to race for, which may result in a shake up of state rankings.
Individually, while Bishop Guertin’s Caroline Fischer looks to be the favorite after dropping a 17:56 at Mines Falls earlier this week. She could be challenged by Coffin who also looked strong solo last week in her rust buster. Look for CVU’s Larson and Veronneau to join the front pack as well as Kate Hedlund from Manchester, VT. The chase pack should be comprised of Bonny Eagle’s Hesler and Pendleton as well as Orcutt, Rinko, BG’s Caroline Towle. Lamoille, VT’s MegAnne Gilmore, Rice’s Emily Bloom and Burlington’s Isabelle Vivanco should also contend for a top 10 slot.
Boys Large School @ 1:30
As always the Boys Large School Race features some of the best teams and individuals in New England. Matter of fact, this year’s edition contains 18 ranked teams from across all 6 New England states. All eyes will certainly be on Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken as they return in an attempt to win three MI titles in a row a year after finishing 4th at last year’s Nike Cross Nationals. The #2 ranked team in the Ocean State and currently #3 in all the Northeast, they have won the last two MI crowns rather easily, but will have to reload quickly as they graduated three of the top 5 scorers from last year’s team. They do return the #3 returner in Matt St. Jean (16:12 last year) and Luke Henseler from their top 5 last year who have the experience of NXN.
Don’t sleep on NH though, as the Granite State will send 6 state ranked schools to the line at 1:30 on Saturday, Seems as if the future is now the present as the top ranked Coe-Brown Bears are comprised of 5 juniors, a senior and a freshmen. Look for their top four, Luke Tkaczyk, Dawson Dubois, Wyatt Mackey and Aidan Cox to make their presence known in the front pack. If they race to their potential in their first real test of the season, they should be able to challenge Hendricken.
Also thinknig the future is now is the #3 ranked Londonderry Lancers. Led by Ryan Young, Matt Griffin and Will Heenan, the Lancers are coming off a 1-point victory at Nashua North Invitational last weekend over last year’s Team of the Year Concord. Don’t be surprised if the Lancers make the podium. The last NH team to win the Large School at MI was Concord, which won back in 2016. Just because they were dethroned at Nashua North, do not overlook them. They are NH’s defending champs with a core of returners, led by Eben Bragg, who will race with a lot of pride. They will always make it tough to beat them.
Led by Bobcat Invite Winner Colin Donnelly, Winnacunnet comes in as the #6 ranked NH school followed by the Luke Brennan-led Pinkerton Astros (NH#7) and the Rory Curran-led Nashua North (NH#8).
Vermont actually boasts more of their ranked schools than NH in this one as 7 ranked teams from the Green Mountain State will make the trip. Leading the way is VT#1 Essex. Led by the one of the top individual returners Henry Farrington and teammate Brady Martisus, Essex placed third last year just 14 points behind Concord. Vermont’s #2 and #3 teams are also attending as U-32, led by Waylon Kurts and Champlain Valley will also make their presence felt. The other top 10 Vermont teams coming include Burlington (#5), South Burlington (#6), Mt. Mansfield (#9), and St. Johnsbury (#10).
Maine is bringing their #6 team Bonny Eagle led by Aiden Willey and Justin Tomison. Connecticut is sending their #8 in William Hall High School and Massachusetts is sending their #11 and #14 ranked schools in Lowell and Needham.
Individually, one has to give the favorite status to Manchester, CT’s Aidan Puffer. Not only is the super soph top returner, but last year’s cross country season was only a prelude for things to come. Big things. With numbers like 9:10 and 14:46 on the track, he is certainly the favorite to win. At the same time, don’t count out Essex’s Farrington, as he and Puffer battled last year all over Derryfield Park. The chase pack should be comprised of St. Jean, Willey, Donnelly, Curran, Kurts, Tkaczyk, Cox, Dubois, Mackey and Bragg.
As always, we will be in their in force, snapping pics, recording races and conducting interviews adjacent to our tent. Good luck to all and welcome to the rest of New England!