By Mike Smith
The Granite State Conference meet provides the opportunity for the state’s smallest schools (plus Canaan, VT) to go head to head in an end of season contest more reflective in similarity by school population. Pitting Epping, Newmarket, Derryfield, Portsmouth Christian, Moultonborough, Hinsdale, Gorham, Lin-Wood and this year’s host Canaan/Pittsburg, these former D4 schools will throw down at Murphy Dam in Pittsburg, NH, 150 miles from the State capital. With the recent change in weather, competitors stand the chance of slogging through the white stuff that far up near the Great White North.
Last year, the Newmarket girls and the Derryfield boys, along with Liza Corso of PCA and Joe Flanangan of Pittsburg/Canaan won the respective championships. Corso, went 1:22 seconds up on Hinsdale’s Margaret St. John before finishing runner up in D3s, 17th at Meet of Champions and 133rd at New Englands. Then this spring she established herself as one of NH’s finest and has been ripping it up all fall. One would expect her to be the odds on favorite this year as well. St. John is the #2 returner as well but will find the competition stiffer. PCA has had a win fall this season, obtaining the services of the Malone sisters, Ella and Brianna, formerly of Coe Brown. This should put them firmly in the driver’s seat for the team championship if they can find the support they need. If not, look for Newmarket, who beat Mascenic last week at the Cougar Classic , and a vastly improved Hinsdale to battle for second or slip into that top spot should PCA fail to find a fifth.
Flanagan didn’t enjoy the same meteoric year that Corso did, however he did finish 24th in D3s last year, besting the Granite State Conference field at D3s as well and should be the top contender this year as well. The next best returner would be Derryfield’s Eric Chapdelaine, last year’s #5. As far as the boys team championship, it appears to be wide open as all of the teams have suffered significant losses to graduation from their top five. Canaan/Pittsburg and Derryfield have the most extensive returners to their teams which should put them in the driver’s seat, with Derryfield besting Epping a week ago at Derryfield’s Cougar Classic.