Under gorgeous skies and cool, fall like conditions, the ‘Jeri Blair’ Belmont Invitational got off with a bang. With 21 teams competing, four from Division 2 and the rest making up half of Division 3, the action was hot. In the women’s race, Merrimack Valley’s Kristie Scoffield got the action going early by taking the race out. Derryfield’s Casey Hecox led the chase, followed by the Hopkinton duo of Maddie Clark and Sarah Nadeau, the White Mountain duo of Jessica Schanlaber and Alex Curtis, and Sarah Crampton of Hollis Brookline.
On the second loop of Belmont’s hilly double loop course, Hecox pushed to the front, and over the third lap opened a gap back over Schoffiled that would last the race. Hecox won it in 19:57, a real solid time on the 5142 meter course. Schoffield finished more than 30 seconds back, being chased by Clark. Nadeau and Crampton finished 4th and 5th.
In the team race, Hopkinton, Hollis Brookline, White Mountains and previously unmentioned John Stark, had three in the top twenty so it would come down to who had the best supporting cast. John Stark came out on top in this one, beating Hollis Brookline 76 -86. White Mountains, Merrimack Valley and Hopkinton rounded out the top five.
The men’s race got going hot as well. From the gun Dom Repucci of Hopkinton ensured the race would not slow, getting to the front and leaning on it from the 100. Going into the woods at 500 meters, he led Cody Symonds of Prospect Mountain, Warren Bartlett of Bishop Brady, Ryan LaFrance of Gilford and a host of others towed out by the fast opening pace. However, 400 meters later, it was obvious this was going to be a battle between Repucci and Symonds.
By the second lap these two had opened a 25 second gap back to the chase pack that now included Avery Traffie of Mascenic, along with Bartlett and LaFrance. Repucci would power home for the win in 17:01, with a 20 second gap back to Symonds. Next in was Traffie, Bartlett and LaFrance to round out the top 5.
Like the women’s race, three teams had at least three runners in the top 20, Mascenic, Prospect Mountain and Derryfield. Unlike the women’s race, one of those teams had four, Mascenic, who won with 68 points. The next three teams were separated by 7 points total, Derryfield (124), Hollis Brookline (128) and Prospect Mountain (131.) An improved Hopkinton boys team finished 5th.
Recognizably absent from racing but at the meet scouting was InterLakes. This year the InterLakes squad chose Thetford over Belmont, thereby removing the duel between Cam Daly and Repucci, arguably two of the top runners in Division 3. Also missing from action was Sam Richmond of Derryfield, out on a college visit, who undeniably then makes quickly improving Derryfield boys a contender for the D3 crown after this latest action.