What a day for the Granite State! Our small but powerful state certainly turned some heads at the Northeast Regionals contested in NY yesterday. Their collective efforts make us all quite proud of them and the strength of our state in one of the most challenging of sports!
Nike Cross Northeast Regional @ Bowdoin Park
Breaking away early, Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox ran unimpeded to the 2021 NXR Northeast Title. Bowdoin Park is a hilly course similar to our own Derryfield. Returning to top form, Cox seemed to glide over the grass, mud, gravel, and hills which comprise the course. Never challenged, he became the first NH boy to win this title posting the 3rd fastest time (15:43) in event history. He joined Hanover’s Georgia Griffin (2007) and West’s Julia Robitaille (2017) as the only Granite Staters to win the NXR Northeast.
But Cox was just 1 highlight on a day of highlights as NH showed up! Cox led Coe-Brown, racing as The Black Bears XC Club, to a surprising 3rd place finish. Lars Hogne continued his super strong senior campaign placing 12th for All-Northeast honors in 16:53. Hogne along with Jamie Lano (34th, 17:17), Tyler Tkaczyk (50th, 17:33), and Gavin Demas (58th, 17:37) tore down the hills which made up the second half of the course collectively passing 36 runners to improve from 4th place to 3rd place, just 12 points out of 2nd to NJ Champs and perennial powerhouse CBA-Lincroft. Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken won the team race comfortably. In the process, the Black Bears beat New England Champ U-32, as well as Ridgefield and Hall of Connecticut which placed higher than them at New Englands as well. The 3rd place finish matches the highest team place by a NH Boys team as Pinkerton also placed third in 2015.
But the NH fun did not end there! Running his best race of the season, Dover’s Tyler Sheedy measured the course and field of runners perfectly to place an impressive 6th overall in 16:42. 11th at the halfway point, Sheedy also looked smooth and in control throughout to make All-Northeast. BG’s Nate Fondakowski joined him as he also ran smart placing 11th in 16:51. He led the Bishop Guertin team (Nashua PAL) to a 9th place finish in the largest race of the day! Londonderry, racing as Appletown, placed 19th.
In the girls Championship Race, running a smart even race, Souhegan’s Chloe Trudel continued her strong close to her prep XC career placing 4th overall in 19:25 to garner All-Northeast honors once again. BG’s Marykate Finn joined her on the All-Northeast squad placing 17th in 20:01. Bow’s Maya Brochu had a great day as well placing 25th in 20:20. Despite not qualifying for New Englands, Trudel’s team, the Saber XC Club also had an impressive showing as they placed 8th overall as was NH’s top team on the day. Dover, racing as Green Wave and without their top runner, placed a strong eleventh gaining valuable experience.
The day started for NH teams however with the Open Races. These races certainly set the tone as Winnacunnet (Closing Kooks) and Coe-Brown (The Black Bears) certainly made their presence felt in the girls race. CBNA’s Sheldyn Fisher ran a gutsy race, best of the season, never quite giving in, to place 2nd in 20:23. Her teammate, Bella Lemay placed 20th in 22:10 to make the All-Northeast Open team with Fisher. These 2 led the Black Bears to a 3rd place finish. Winnacunnet countered however as Charlotte Koutalidis led them by placing 4th overall in 20:51. She was supported by Carson Mariotti’s 22nd place finish in 22:16. It was their 3-4-5 who made the difference as their entire scoring 5 placed within the top 35. By virtue of this great team running, the Closing Kooks wound up a comfortable 2nd place with 65 points.
Led by junior Jaren Noorda’s 18th place finish, the Souhegan boys (Saber XC) placed an impressive 5th in the Open race. This is quite impressive as Souhegan did not qualify for Meet of Champions and kept their training and focus for 4 weeks to compete quite strong as a team and score 178 points to place the 5th out of 23 teams.
Eastbay Championships @ Van Cortland Park
By Kathy Aldridge – Gilford
On Saturday November 27, 2021 the 42nd running of the Eastbay Northeast Cross Country Regional qualifier took place at historic Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. Established in 1979, the Eastbay HS Championships is the oldest and most prestigious high school cross country event in the nation. The New England qualifiers included the best runners from 11 New England and Mid Atlantic states plus the District of Columbia. Van Cortland Park has a storied history of Cross Country competitions serving as the venue for high school and college championship’s for years and has witnessed the youthful performance of many future Olympians. This year approximately 400 runners fiercely competed in the cold and blustery coastal conditions hoping to qualify for the National Championships to be held at Balboa Park in San Diego, California on Saturday December 11, 2021.
Four talented high school runners proudly represented New Hampshire in this competitive field. Those runners included: Mackenzie Cook, freshman from Madbury running for Oyster River HS; junior Brianna Malone from Barrington, running for PCA; junior Birhanu Harriman of Lebanon and junior Patrick Gandini of Gilford.
The girl’s championship race was won by Angelina Perez of Ringwood, NJ with a commanding 19 second margin in a time of 17:21.5. Within 25 seconds the tightly contested additional nine qualifiers for the National Championships had crossed the finish line.
Gavin Sherry of West Hartford, CT won the boy’s championship race in 15:05.8. Gavin made a spectacular final surge to overtake Marco Langon of Raritan, NJ in the final meters and win by just a few seconds. The hard fought two-man battle at the front of the race provided the spark for Sherry to break the 2007 course record of 15:09.00 set by two time Olympian Donn Cabral.
The NH girls did not disappoint and held their own in a talented field of 148 runners. Malone finished in a very respectable 33rd place in 19:05 followed by Cook in 63rd place in a time of 19:29.5.
The NH boys, both juniors, performed quite well in a strong field of 237 in which nine of the top ten national qualifiers were seniors. Harriman earned a top 30 medal for his 29th place finish in 16:05, while Gandini placed just outside of medal contention in 37th place with a time of 16:11. In by far their most competitive race of the year; the performance of the NH athletes heralds great promise for the 2022 Cross Country Season.
Congratulations to a job well done by these NH athletes.