Under atypical skies for the opening of cross country season, Mascenic’s home opener got off to cool temperatures and some hot racing. With a gun time of 4pm, teams from Bishop Brady, Keene and Mascenic were warming up on the well manicured course which seemed poised for fast times and competitive racing.
The ladies got things going with a strong contingent from Keene going straight to the front from the gun. A solid group from Brady was peppered within the top ten with Quinn Aldrich and Skye Lambert marking up on the front pack. The rest of the Mascenic top three shadowed the pack from Brady and Keene as they headed out of the start field. Two minutes later, the second wave followed, with a pair from Keene going straight to the front, pushing the pace. Mascenic’s second five were in hot pursuit, hoping to make inroads into the Keene juggernaut.
As the girls re-entered the start field for the first time, Keene still led but Brady’s Katie Palmateer was tracking Keenes top girl, trying to make inroads on the lead. Brady’s Abby Shagena was shadowing Keene’s #2 and a battle was waging behind with the rest of the first wave starters. Mascenic’s Aldrich and Lambert were hanging tough, while teammates Sydney Bane and Maya Callahan were working their way up through the pack. Behind them, Keene’s #6 runner, coming from the second wave was making inroads on the back of the first wave, looking to displace some spots in front of them.
As the lead girls came up the last hill with 400 meters remaining, Palmateer made what looked to be the winning move, opening a slight back to second. But as they entered the field with 100 meters remaining, Keene’s number one gun hit the pedal with a final surge, taking the win 20:06 to Palmateer’s 20:07. The winner’s teammates took the next three spots, followed by the home team’s Aldrich in sixth. Brady’s Shagena would outdistance Mascenic’s Lambert for seventh, with Keene’s fifth and sixth rounding out the top ten.
In the end, the Keene ladies easily outdistanced the rest of the competition, winning 23 points to 55 points over Mascenic, who barely held on over Bishop Brady who finished with 57 points.
In the boys race, the focus was primarily on the battle between Keene’s Torin Kindopp and top D3 harrier, Mascenic’s Landen Vaillancourt. With this potential matchup in mind, and fantastic course conditions, the underlying thought was the course record was going down. However when the gun went off, it was obvious that the two top contenders were looking for the other to make the first move. As the racers trailed out the 300 meter starting loop, the entire first wave was still within 3 seconds of each other.
A thousand meters in, Vaillancourt was shadowed by four Keene harriers and it appeared they were looking to get a tour of the course. While things strung out, the pace up front didn’t appear to be too hot and there seemed to be some slight adjustments in the order behind the leaders in the first wave. However, unbeknownst to the first wave, things were pretty hot in the second wave with a posse of ten Keene guys just in front of Mascenic’s Drew Traffie. It looked as if they might make some inroads on the first wave.
At the halfway mark, Vaillancourt still seemed to be offering up his hosting services on his home course as the lead pack came through on 16:45 pace, well off the pace to run the CR of 16:24. There was some jockeying coming into the gate for the final lap but still no one was willing to pull the trigger. That would come later. Mascenic’s Connor Traffie seemed to be the biggest beneficiary of the relaxed pace migrating through the field and moving up through the top ten. Brady’s Colby Despres was leading Mascenic’s Josh Movsessian, Jethro Somero and Ryan O’Shea as Mascenic looked to be taking advantage of some home course experience and moving up.
But the biggest beneficiary of the slightly slower pace up front was Traffie’s younger brother Drew who had negotiated Keene’s second wave and now had his sights on the first wave. While never catching his teammates on the course, things would play out later when the 2 minute time differential would come into play.
As the front of the race negotiated the second lap, Vaillancourt and Kindopp would pull clear of the rest of Keenes top four, and they really cranked up the pace over the second lap. As they reached the last hill with 400 to go, Kindopp held a 15 meter lead he would hold until the finish. Vaillancourt would make one final push to be insniffing distance of the finish, but Kindopp was able to use that finishing speed that makes him so deadly in indoor to finish ten seconds under the old course record in 16:14. Vaillancourt would also finish under the record in 16:20. Next in would be two more of Kindopp’s teammates followed by the older Traffie in fifth. Keene would get their fourth in next, followed by Brady’s Despres, the Movsessian, and Keene’s fifth.
The next runner in was Mascenic’s Somero, but lurking less than two minutes behind was teammate Drew Traffie, scorching the second half to take the final spot in the top ten.
Keene would also win the boys race, with 22 points over Mascenic with 36 points. Brady would finish with 76 points.