45th Manchester Invite Recap, Results, Races, Interviews!

Full Results – Courtesy of Millennium Running

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While the story of the day at the 45th Manchester Invitational mirrored the 43rd as the heat became a central part of the day, the racing itself certainly matched the mercury levels worthy of MI’s reputation.   Over 3000 athletes from all 6 New England states came together over 10 races to truly celebrate our sport at this festival of races.  Great job NH on being gracious hosts and even better competitors!  Congrats to all!

Girls Small School

The Girls Small School race would become a battle of attrition as the front of the race through the mile would see a large front pack.  Souhegan’s Chloe Trudel and Mackenzie Hayden, and Merrimack Valley’s Sophia duo of Rebenciuc and Reynolds would lead D3 stalwarts Mya Dube of Kearsarge and Liza Corso of Portsmouth Christian, along with Harwood’s Ava Thurston, Pentucket’s Phoebe Rubio and Thetford’s Madelyn Durkee around Derryfield Park and through the mile in 6:20.

Rebencuic would take command of the front after the mile, trying to shake up her challengers over the aggressive second mile.  Trudel and Thurston would hold on tight, passing the two mile right on her heels, with Dube, Corso and Reynolds ten seconds in arrears.  Trudel would make a bid for the lead with 800 meters to go but Thurston stalked her all the way, eventually breaking away to finish in 19:09, seven seconds up on Trudel.  Rebenciuc would be rewarded with third for all her hard work up on the ski hill. Dube would put ten seconds on D3 competitor Corso over the final half mile followed by Hayden.  The remainder of the top ten would be Rubio, Reynolds, Durkee and Maia Vinhaterio of South Kingstown, who had a very strong second half of the race to move up on the early race leaders.

South Kingstown (RI), the favorite coming in backed up their status as favorites to win this one on the backs of some strong team running, putting all five scorers in the top 21.  They would finish with 72 points over a surprise Merrimack Valley with 115 points. Souhegan would finish in the third spot just four points back with 119 points.  Hopkinton (150 points) and Harwood, VT(173 points) would round out the top ten.

Boys Small School

While the top three in the Boys Large School division would be out of staters, in the Boys Small School, it would become a battle at the front for NH honors.  From the gun, the front pack of Landen Vaillancourt of Mascenic, Jared Khalil of Sanborn, Rohan Rai of Windham, Carson Bottomley of Bishop Guertin, Patrick Gandini of Gilford, and the trio of Andy O”Brien, Myles Carrico and Owen Fleischer of Oyster River would lead Thetford’s Tad Darrah, Riley Shepherd of Woodstock and Antonio Capalbo of South Kingstown on a tour of Derryfield Park.  But the tour wouldn’t last for long.

Keeping the hammer dropped by the gazebo, Vaillancourt, fresh off his win at Nashua North, decided it was time to test his strength on the more difficult Manchester course.  Pulling Darrah with him in 5:09, he led O”Brien, Carrico and company by 10 seconds through the mile. His gap at the top of Reservoir Hill yawned to 30 meters and it was alone time for Vaillancourt the rest of the way.  Darrah was 12 seconds in arrears at the two mile, with Carrico, O’Brien and Rai hunting him down.

Keeping the pedal down, wary of almost being run down by Joe Curran last weekend, Vaillancourt would remain untested the final mile, winning in 16:21, fifteen seconds up on his next competitor.  Carrico would lead the charge trying to make inroads on Vaillancourt’s lead and would be rewarded with the runner up spot over freshman Khalil who closed hard over the final mile. Darrah would beat O”Brien through the tape with Rai just one second back as well.  Rounding out the top ten would be Shepherd, Gandini, Capalbo and Fleischer.

The team race would be no contest as well.  With three in the top ten, and all five in the top 35, Oyster River would prevail over Hanover, 78 points to 196 points, enjoying almost a minute team average better.  Bishop Guertin would finish third (226 points) with ConVal squeaking out fourth over Greely, 244 to 245 points.

Mike Smith

Girls Large School

This race was the one that certainly surprised many regarding the teams that would take the podium.  Pre-race favorite Champlain Valley was down their #3 and #5 runners due to sickness, which is certainly tough for any team to overcome especially when facing competition the level of MI45.  Running and racing hard for the first time this season, we certainly saw how strong a couple NH teams look early this season.

Individually, around the first loop a top group was already separating from the pack seeing Caroline Fischer (BG), Alicia Veronneau  (CVU), and Kate Hedlund (Manchester, CT).  Not too far behind the top group was another pack with Alice Larson (CVU), Carly Rinko (Bedford), Caroline Towle (BG) and Concord’s Morgane Orcutt.  BG’s third, Marykate Finn, along with Salem’s top two were within reach of the front early.

At the top of the hill just after the mile Fischer was starting to run away with it looking strong and in control while her teammate Towle had moved into second just ahead of Hedlund (Manchester), Lila Gaudrault (Cape Elizabeth) and Veronneau.  Fischer and Towle really put away the top 2 by the 2 mile mark, leaving the team race as the only one to be decided.  Could the defending champs overcome the Cardinal top 2 combination?  This would be decided by the supporting cast.

Over the course of the race, Bishop Guertin’s three-five runners, Finn, Fiona Doherty, and Madeleine Moynihan made up the most ground moving up to steal the win and wrest the title from the Vermont powerhouse by just 9 points.  Keene also moved up extremely well over the latter half of Derryfield to come within 5 points of CVU and 14 points of BG to surprisingly place 3rd. They were led by Mikayla Randall (7th) Amelia Osphal (8th), Hannah Shepard (19th), and Reagan Hoy (21st).  Bedford, led by Carly Rinko would place 4th with Coe-Brown rounding out the top 5.

Boys Large School

The boys large division looked likely to be a highly competitive race with several of the highest ranked teams in New Hampshire as well as some great squads from the rest of New England and the race did not disappoint.

September had been largely pretty cool for the last few weeks, but this weekend summer decided to make its triumphant return and really challenged the runners with high temperatures and non-stop sun. Other than the day’s winner, Aidan Puffer of Manchester, Connecticut who ran an absolutely blazing 15:32, everyone seemed to feel the heat’s sting. It really became a day about which team could hold together in the challenging weather conditions.

Coe-Brown showed they were up to the challenge led by dynamite freshman Aidan Cox whose team ran to a shocking ONE point victory over defending champs and Northeast #3 Bishop Hendricken. Cox and his teammate Luke Tkaczyk moved up towards the front early and stayed in the mix the whole way to take fourth and seventh respectively. Their teammates Wyatt Mackey and Carter Sylvester were also excellent to come in at sixteen and seventeenth. How good was Coe-Brown’s top four? The next New Hampshire team to place was Londonderry at third and their first runner finished in twentieth.

Speaking of Londonderry, they had a second great week in a row to take third place and lead the D1 teams again. Londonderry didn’t have the up front punch that Coe-Brown had, but they showed a really impressive grouping and put their fifth runner in front of Coe-Brown’s fifth. That grouping should really help them along with a seemingly interchangeable varsity squad that saw a repeat from Ryan Young as their top placer at 20th but a great race from last week’s fifth man Kerry Daley to be their second at twenty second. Their third man was another excellent freshman Sean Clegg who can in 31st.

Pinkerton came in third last week, but was only beaten by Londonderry this week by four points.  They managed to take down last week’s second Concord for an overall fourth place finish. Pinkerton got another great race from sophomore Luke Brennan, who showed a strong understanding of the strategy of running at Manchester by using a controlled first mile and then rapidly moving up after the hill to take 11th place. Rookie teammate, junior Stephen Connolly, ran a very similar race to Brennan.  This was a strong strategy for the first year runner on a tough course, which led him to 13th. Zach Plaza continued to have a strong senior year as their third man to come in at twenty first.

Concord saw strong runs for their lead three runners Eben Bragg in 14th, Brayden Kearns in 19th, and David Cook in 28th, but the gap back to their four and five is what gave Pinkerton and Londonderry the chance to sneak in front of them at Manchester. Concord’s biggest strength the last two seasons has been incredible depth and if you don’t think this will improve next time they’re at Manchester you’re in for a surprise.

Rounding out the top NH finishers was Winnacunnet which took ninth place. Things looked great up front for the Warriors with Colin Donnelly coming in fifth overall and the second New Hampshire runner. Noah Taracena had a strong run as their second man to take 26th.

Rory Curran of Nashua North had a strong individual showing to take ninth place and be the third New Hampshire finisher.

Congrats to all on a tough, challenging day!!!

Ian French

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