Derryfield Park will once again be the center of the New Hampshire Cross Country universe when the NHIAA conducts the Division Championships this Saturday. NH has been conducting a cross country state championship for boys since 1930 and for girls since 1975. While this year will certainly be unique for obvious reasons, the athletes of NH Cross Country will be making history with their feet! For a complete history of the championships as well as Meet of Champions, check out “The History of New Hampshire Cross Country” courtesy of LancerTiming. As always they will be providing the professional timing!
We will be there in full force! To help calm the sting from not being able to have spectators, we will be LIVESTREAMING on the NHIAA State Division Championships Meet Hub! 9 spots on the course! Catch all the action here! To wet your appetite, below are the previews!!! Good luck to all!
With no spectators, all merchandise is available online only. Check out the NHIAA XC State Championship Merchandise Store!
As we enter the final week leading up to the Divisional Championships, it is time to predict the outcome. This season has been anything but normal, but if you ask most coaches and athletes they won’t complain, they are just happy to have been able to have a season. Along the way there have been some unique meet accommodations and some great team and individual battles. However, having only dual meets and staying closer to home, it makes it very difficult to predict what will happen when the entire division comes together for the first and only time in 2020. There is bound to be someone that is missed or underestimated but this is the best guess at this point and we will know for sure on October 31st.
For the 2020 season, Division One will have 6 qualifying teams move on to the Meet of Champions and only 5 individuals that are not part of one of the six teams moving forward. This is quite a bit different than a normal XC season, so unfortunately there will be several teams and many individuals being left at home. However, the NHIAA XC Committee decided that in order to run a safe MOC meet, the numbers needed to be reduced. So at least in D1, the battle to qualify will be fierce.
There are five division one schools among the top ten teams in the state so that should give us 5 of the 6 qualifying teams moving forward to the Meet of Champions. Concord was the early favorite even before the season started and has shown they are as strong as predicted. Concord is led by Katherine Kennedy and Sophie Hopkins. Exeter looks to be the best bet to give Concord a run for the title, led by Ali McFarland and Anna Madden. Keene (led by Hannah Shepard and Reagan Hoy) and Bishop Guertin (led by MaryKate Finn and Fiona Doherty) should be battling for the third and fourth spot. However, don’t be surprised to see them in the mix for the fight to make the podium. Nashua South is the fifth Division One school that is ranked in the top ten and is led by Nadezhda Zhecheva.
After the top ranked teams there is still one more spot open to qualify for Mines Falls the following week. Dover, Bedford and Nashua North have some strong front runners and have potential to break into the top six to qualify, so it will be a battle. Don’t be surprised if one or more of these teams crack the top 5 and qualify for the Meet of Champions.
Individually, Concord’s top two (Kennedy and Hopkins) should be leading the way. Bedford’s Carly Rinko and Exeter’s top two (Madden and McFarland) will be right on their heels. Nashua North’s Dantia Braccio, Nashua South’s Conway, BG’s Finn and Doherty and Keene’s Shepard and Hoy will all be trying to break into the all important top ten at Division One.
Since there have not been any invitationals and all the girls haven’t been all together, it is very unpredictable as to where they all stand against one another. In a way, the pure nature of the unknown will make for a very exciting morning at Derryfield Park on Halloween. As most of you will be watching at home on your television/computer, the park will be quieter than normal, but the excitement of the day will still be there with every coach and athlete as we step onto the field excited to have made it to the 2020 Division Championship Meet. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.
– Amy Sanborn
The weirdest season of all time is quickly moving towards its conclusion. On the coaching end, I feel like this is going to be one of the seasons that we talk about often to future athletes for as long as I keep coaching. Not having any invitationals? Starting 3 weeks later than normal? Masks at practice and meets? All of these will leave this as one of the more memorable seasons a coach can have. That said, I know I’ve reached this point of the season feeling an additional sense of pride in the kids on the team. This was something that easily could have knocked athletes off the course they needed to follow to reach success and simply put, it didn’t. In a season of gigantic challenges, I saw kids rise up to meet them over and over. Still moving forward and still striving towards their goals. I hope this preview finds you in the same place. Proud that you faced adversity and didn’t let it slow you down. Ready to end the season with the success you’ve worked for all season long.
Writing a preview this year is also a bit of a challenge. When I write these, I really don’t want it to be a bunch of my speculation. I look at the results from all the meets that different teams go to and try to use that data to get a decent idea of where teams are at. This year, the data set is tiny and involves mostly home courses that I don’t necessarily know anything about. Even the courses I should know (my own home course at Londonderry for example), I have no idea how to rank it against a place like Manchester because we had to rework it for the pandemic and it seemed like every time we had a meet, the weather would decide to show up and not in a good way. With all that in mind, let’s dive into how things look going into D1s!
Concord has looked strong all season with only taking a loss to the NH#1 team Coe-Brown. In their most recent meet that was at Derryfield Park, Eben Bragg put his flag down as the guy to beat this weekend by breaking 16:00 while winning by over 25 seconds. Brayden Kearns is also running well going sub 16:30 on the challenging Manchester course. Their whole top seven was under 18:00 minutes which means they have depth in addition to having the strong man up front. With their top 5 in striking range of all being sub 17:00, the rest of the division is going to have a hard time taking down the defending state champions.
Londonderry is going to need a 1-5 excellent performance to challenge Concord. Ryan Young and Matt Griffin have laid down some excellent times this season and look ready to compete for some of the top spots in the division. Two sophomores, Sean Clegg and Ryan Fortin, have been running great this season and been a strong 3-4 for the team but these two and Junior Will Plante will have to bring their best if they’re going to challenge Concord’s outstanding depth.
Keene and Londonderry look pretty interchangeable in these slots based off of what we’ve seen. Torin Kindopp is an athlete who should compete for the top guy in the Division which helps Keene’s cause. Londonderry and Keene should match up pretty well against each other with the rest of their guys running similar times during the rest of the season. Jonathan Hills will be a strong second man with Silas Johnson and Martin Nelligan both hopefully under 18, they should keep their score pretty low.
Special Note: This is where I would have had Pinkerton and I want them to know we were all sad to see their season come to an end a little too soon. We look forward to seeing the PA boys and girls out there racing again next season.
4. Bishop Guertin
Bishop Guertin looked ready last year to make a jump up in the rankings and they sure did. Their top runner Nate Fondakowski has had an excellent season already breaking 17:00 up at Derryfield and the rest of the top five were within 30 seconds of one another running from the high 17:00s into the low 18s at Derryfield. It wouldn’t take much for them to all break 18 and really surprise some of the people ahead of them on this list. Keep an eye on the green and yellow!
Winnacunnet may have lost their super top three but they carried some excellent depth into this year. They have a giant crew of guys who will be under 18:30, which probably puts them out of range of the top teams but will likely punch their ticket to next weekend’s Meet of Champions.
On the individual side of things, I think Bragg looks like the guy to beat. He’s laid down multiple sub 16:00 times this season and just looks to be a step ahead of the crowd. After him, keep an eye on Keene’s Kindopp, who if the race comes down a sprint could surprise Bragg. Londonderry’s Young looked excellent early on the season taking down Pinkerton’s Luke Brennan, who would have been in this mix for sure. Some dark horse runners to consider are Concord’s Kearns, Londonderry’s Griffin and Dover’s Tyler Sheedy. All three have had solid runs this year and will likely be right in with the leaders as the race develops.
While this season was a very interesting and unique experience, with retro dual meets filling the calendar and one-on-one rivalries replacing big invitationals, it didn’t do too much to clean the dust off the crystal ball for the Divisional meet. Adding to the intrigue is the modified format for qualifying to the Meet of Champions, with 5 teams and the top 5 individuals not on qualifying teams. This all makes for a highly anticipated clash on Saturday, with all the teams and individuals coming together for the first time. The wait for results, although short, will be agonizing…
The clarity at the beginning of the season was that Coe-Brown were likely the favorites for the top of the team podium. With their top runner, Addison Cox, undefeated and a strong contingent of teammates to back her up, this is the one easy call for Saturday. The Bears should run away with the title and probably a good portion of the top ten individuals as well.
Runner-up looks like a battle between two teams who are always in the mix, Souhegan and Hanover. With 9th-grader Stephanie Svendson providing a solid number two behind defending champion Chloe Trudel, the Sabers have speed up front to match anyone and solid depth behind. Hanover, with Riley Roach and Sarah Glueck leading, have both good speed and enough depth to compete. Souhegan may have a slight advantage with their numbers, but it won’t be a surprise should Hanover come out on top.
While these teams seem like a safe bet to make up the top three, the final two spots will be tight. Kearsarge has a very good shot to make a statement with their return to Division II by qualifying for MOC’s in their first year back. Led by Madeline Prak and Lili Baer, their roster is full of experienced veterans who know what needs to be done on race day. Kennett, led by Amy Burtin, is a bit of a mystery team, with few results to be found. They return a solid core of runners from 2019 however, and should be in the mix. Other teams with a shot at a top five finish include perennial contender Oyster River, led by Tessa Brown, Lebanon, led by Sophia Amaro, and Bow, led by Maya Brochu, who is having a breakout year.
Individually, Cox has to be the slight favorite, thanks to an undefeated season which included a win over the past two Division champions, Merrimack Valley’s Sophia Reynolds and Souhegan’s Trudel. Do not count out Trudel however since she has been the example of consistency over her high school career. The Cox/Trudel race was probably the individual duel of the season; separated by only three seconds shows that this race should come down to the final stretch. Looking at results, these two seem to have separated themselves from the field.
After the top two, look for Reynolds to lock down the first individual MOC berth, although she’ll be challenged in the race by Souhegan’s Svendson and Amanda Ulicny, as well as Coe-Brown’s Sheldyn Fisher and Mallory Taylor, and Hanover’s Roach. Other individuals looking to be in the top ten include at least three more Coe-Brown runners in Tessa Millette, Isabella Lemay, and Samantha Lemay, Kearsarge’s Prak and Baers, Hanover’s Gluek, and Bow’s Brochu. Also looking to qualify individually are St. Thomas’s Kate Burrus, Lebanon’s Amaro, and A. Englund of Plymouth.
What a crazy season! In the year of dual meets, reduced travel, socially distanced runs, and a wide variety of wave starts, NH has once again shown our commitment to the sport we love. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s been anything but “normal”, but we’ve made it through and are definitely going to be stronger and more unified as a result. The nuances of this season have made large invitationals non-existent, which has made ranking teams and making predictions for their finishes at the Divisional Championships extremely difficult. But, here at NHCC, we’ve done our research and are ready to give it a go!
As we predicted, this fall was the Coe-Brown show! They dominated all competition, and are poised to continue rolling through DII’s and MOC’s. The super duo of Luke Tkaczyk and Aidan Cox look to repeat their 1 – 2 finishes from last season, while a much improved supporting cast have continued to impress as the season’s gone on. CBNA’s Lars Hogne, Carter Sylvester, Logan Mihelich, Wyatt Mackey, and Jamie Lano make up the remainder of the varsity squad…all of whom would be the #1 or #2 runner for almost every other school in the division. How crazy is that?! Don’t be surprised to see a lead pack containing the entire team. Their success is definitely a testament to the dedication of the Coe-Brown athletes, coaches, and community.
Another team that has dominated this fall, and is surprisingly even stronger than we predicted, is Windham. They are solidly in the runner-up spot coming into Championship season. The Jaguars have emerged from quarantine led by a triple threat of Rohan Rai, Trey Gonzalez, and breakout star Michael Killian. These 3, along with Logan Carter and Cole Flenniken have established Windham as a force across the state. Recently taking down then NH #3 Londonderry, the team seems to be putting it all together when it matters most. If anyone is going to cause Coe-Brown to peak back over their shoulder, it’s Windham.
Seemingly coming out of nowhere at #3 is Hanover! The lack of invitationals has made it difficult to compare them with formidable opponents, but make no mistake about it, this team is legit. Unlike Hanover teams of the past few seasons that have relied on a super tight pack time, this year they feature two front-runners, with the return of Sam Murray and an improved Daniel Frost. #’s 3 and 4 on the squad, Mack Levy and Spencer May, have been busting out some solid times over the past few weeks, while Luke Holmes and Caleb Zuckerman have been steadily closing the gap. This team has battled with Division I Keene multiple times, and should really mix it up with Division II’s finest this weekend.
Sanborn looks to have things hitting on all cylinders this weekend, after some ups and downs over the past few weeks. The Khalil brothers have had a blast running as Sanborn’s top 3 this season and are poised to have a big day at DII’s. Sophomore Jared has led the way, with senior Dylan and sophomore Tyson coming on strong as the season’s shaped up. Owen Stocker and Gavin O’Connell have found their strides, hanging close to the trio, while Jacob Thomas and Jake Tedford have shown amazing improvement this season and may make the difference of where the team finishes overall.
Oyster River has been showing steady improvement over these past couple of months. Like we said in August, this team always seems to find a way to reload and be ready to race at the end of October. This year is no different! We have them at #5, but who knows what can happen when the gun goes off. With Andy O’Brien, Owen Fleischer, and Dillon Labonte, the team has a great trifecta up front. Henry Hagan continues to progress while Ethan Bessette, Keane Swiesz, and Rowan Brown have shown their training start to kick in when they need it to.
With the adjustments to MOC qualifying this year, Souhegan led by sophomore sensation Kariso Anderson seems to be on the outside looking in. This team has grown and improved together and recently showed off an incredible pack time of just 21 seconds between their #2 – #5 runners. If any team can oust Oyster River, Sanborn, or Hanover for a chance to race next week, it’s definitely Souhegan. Again, their depth of Nolan Dickinson, Ethan McFee, and Peter Headington will certainly come into play, and they’ll be racing for every spot.
There are a number of very strong teams whose seasons may be coming to an end after Saturday, however, especially in a season like this, anything can happen!
Con-Val, after just getting approval from their school board last week, will be racing in their first meet of the season! They’re returning a number of their top runners from last season, including August Kotola, and given Con-Val’s history of peaking at the right time, they could be in the hunt as well. Bow, led by Benjamin Neff is another team who has been running well, but haven’t matched up with many stronger teams this fall.
Individually, it looks like it’s going to be yet another battle between Tkaczyk and Cox. Windham’s Rohan Rai, Oyster River’s Andy O’Brien, Sanborn’s Khalil bros, Hanover’s Murray and Frost, and Milford’s Caleb Korthals (who just ripped a 15:53 at Sanborn last week), will look to upset and take the crown as Division II champ!
With most meets being duals and lots of results not making it to the NHCC website, speculating on the top five teams at the D3 championships is just that, speculation. Making an attempt to “rank” the division based on some educated guessing, hunches and the transitive property comes with many pitfalls but to have some sort of a preview I will do my best. Please forgive me if we’ve missed something over the season or we leave out a team or individual that has been lying in wait in the weeds. We’ll do our best to clean this up with the race recap.
In the season preview, we suggested with Kearsarge moving up to D2 that the door was open for a new champ and suggested Hopkinton was in the best position to do so. However thus far this year the Hawks have yet to really put things together like they have the last two years. With returning runners Anna O’Reilly, Cailey Stockwell and Cate Westbrook along with new varsity runner Clara Locke, they have a strong top four. However the gap between #4 and #5 is about two minutes, providing a chink in the armor. Last year they were often led by freshman Hannah Bennett, but her name has yet to show up in the results. The Hawks hope to get Bennett back for the championship run, and if they do, with as much championship experience expect Hopkinton to be out front and in the driver’s seat when the gun goes off.
With this COVID-19 shortened season another team trying to find their footing is Campbell. With the 2017 championship team of freshman now hitting the senior ranks, it seemed the Cougars were poised to get back to their winning ways. Senior Megan Whitnell has been running great this season, posting a 20:15, winning a quad meet against D2 teams. 2019 All-Division 3 runner Cassie Hemming recently posted a 20:46 three mile time at Sanborn. If Campbell can bridge the gap to presumably their #3 runner Riley Gamache, they could be dangerous.
In the season preview, we identified Portsmouth Christian Academy as a potential spoiler, having four solid racers with experience and if they could find a fifth to compliment that top four, they’d stand to do some damage. Liza Corso and Brianna Malone have been tearing it up, but the older Malone elected to focus solely on soccer and is not in the lineup. Lily Kjendahl provides a solid third and should be in the front chase pack, but after that there is a significant drop off to their #4 (almost 3 minutes.) The potential for a 1-2 finish helps. but three minutes might be too much for the Eagles to overcome.
Newmarket was mentioned as the next likely team to get into the top five. Led by Isabel Petony as expected, but unfortunately it seems the rest of the team is fighting to find their footing. After Pentony, there seems to be a two minute drop back to #2, with a four minute gap back to #3. If Newmarket is dealing with some injuries and the girls are on the road to recovery, then Mules might be able to make a push into the top five. However if the recent results are where they’re at, the road to success will be a steep one.
In the preview, we listed three teams to watch: Monadnock, Mascenic and Conant. These three teams have raced a regional meet schedule this season, making comparisons easier than most other teams in our preview. The Vikings have gotten the better of the Huskies and the Orioles in their contests over the season, tipping the apple cart in their favor. With seniors Quinn Aldrich and Sydney Bane towards the fore, with strong support from Maya Callahan and Victoria Smith, plus the addition of a strong freshman class, Mascenic looks poised to make Meet of Champions for the first time since 2017.
Conant looks to pick up where they left off last year, finishing eighth. With a solid front pack of sophomore Kylie Aho, sisters Ammarah and Alleigh Lapinsky, if they can continue to close the gap back to their fourth, it looks like the Orioles might be on their way to Meet of Champions. Monadnock actually has a stronger front pack of senior Delaney Swanson, sophomore Anna Bentley and freshman Allysa H, but like Conant they fall off after that. The Huskies will be looking to close that gap before October 31st.
While the whole season is ripe for wild cards, it might be worth keeping an eye on these few teams to turn the tables on the rest of D3. Bishop Brady is another team with a strong 1-2 punch in Amy Palmateer and Abby Shagena, with strong support in Alyssa Lavalley and Olivia Blanchard. After that, they seem to drop off by almost ten minutes. Solve that part of the puzzle and the Green Giants are in the mix. While we often see little in the results for White Mountains, it is possible if the Spartans have come out of hibernation in the North Country, they could do damage in the championships. Again, due to the scarcity of results out there, I could have missed an up and coming team. so I’ll apologize in advance should that happen.
As far as individuals go, PCA’s Liza Corso should lead the pack. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her teammate Malone following up in second either. The rest of the top ten should come from Hopkinton’s Bennett, O’Reilly, Stockwell and Westbrook, Campbell’s Hemming and Whitnell, Monadnock’s Swanson and Bentley, Bishop Brady’s Palmateer and Shagena, Mascenic’s Aldrich, Gilford’s Cat Stow, Prospect Mountains Veronica Dowd and Canaan Memorial’s Hannah Cote.
Without a crystal ball, as stated before, accurately predicting the champion is difficult at best. But with the boys we are lucky to have a number of the top tier teams racing each other in Monadnock, Conant and Mascenic. So let’s use the transitive property to rank these teams going into the championships. Early in the season, Conant got the win at home over Monadnock while both teams were at full strength, then Conant lost to Mascenic (who was missing their #3) the next week while missing their #2 and #5. Mascenic then raced Monadnock with both teams at full strength, with Monadnock winning by one point. Mascenic raced Monadnock the next week, losing by 12 points but without the help of their #2 and #4. Mascenic was supposed to race Conant the following Friday at home, but that event got cancelled. Conant then raced Monadnock at Monadnock the following week with Monadnock winning by one point.
So in translation, on paper Monadnock has the upperhand here and by virtue of this season’s win-loss record, should be the favorite. With a senior heavy team led by Tyler Hebert and Harry Ryan, expect Monadnock to bring it. Seniors Donovan Lombara Chase Oullette, junior Mitchell Hill and freshman Jace Joslyn will be looking to crank it up a notch come championship time.
Chasing Monadnock will be Mascenic and Conant. Last year in a contrast of strategies, with Conant going out hard and Mascenic making their traditional second half surge, the Vikings were able to make up the deficit and more, running to the win. Expect to see similar game plans with both teams but keep an eye on the results. Conant will lead with a strong threesome of Matt Bernier, Ethan Vitello and Ethan Wienhold, with support from John Mormando and Austin Poikenen. Mascenic will counter with Landen Vaillancourt, last year’s D3 champ, Connor and Drew Traffie, Jethro Somero and Ryan O’Shea.
Looking to break up these three will be last year’s runner up, Hopkinton. The Hawks lost senior leader Shepyrd Murdough but have gained the leadership of freshman leaders Ben Daniels and Matt Clarner. The results seem to indicate that it’s taking some time for the Hawks to hit their stride, and without a proven low stick like the other teams have, it might be difficult for Hopkinton to sneak into the top three.
Out of the North country, Berlin was in a close one with D2 Kingswood. Finishing 8th last season, it looks as if Berlin might be looking to climb into the top five. Led by the duo of Day and Landry, if they can shore up their pack time they could be a threat come the 31st. Other wild cards could be Trinity and Campbell.
Individually, the athlete to watch is Vaillancourt, who’s senior campaign has been highlighted by taking down his course record by 24 seconds, set by 2013 MOC runner up Tim Fafard when Fafard dueled three time New England qualifier Dom Repucci of Hopkinton. Vaillancourt did it solo, winning by 50 seconds. If to be challenged expect it to be from last year’s runner up Gilford’s Patrick Gandini, who beat Vaillancourt last year at New Englands. Monadnock’s Hebert was third last year and there’s no reason not to think he won’t be in a similar position this year. He did have to outrun Conant’s Vitello earlier in the season though so watch out for the Oriole as well. Others to consider would be Herbert’s teammate Ryan, Vitello’s teammate Bernier, and Vaillancourt’s teammate Traffie. Outside these teams look for Hopkinton’s Daniels, Winnisquam’s Dylan Roberts, Berlin’s Day and Mascoma’s Dirk Andrew.