By Mike Smith
Well, after a wet start to the week, the Cougar Classic kicked off on a beautiful fall day, primo for cross country racing. And racing it was. With many of the smaller schools south and west of the greater Manchester area squaring off, we’d get to see how these teams are preparing for the “end run” up to the Divisional championships. The Derryfield School course has it’s challenges but runs reasonably quick, allowing for teams and athletes to hit their proverbial strides and see what seven weeks of training has garnered them. With starting loops around the upper fields, and a run back to the fields after the 2 mile mark, with one final field circuit, spectators get plenty to get excited about. And the racing reflected that opportunity.
In the girls race, Mascenic’s Emma Schaumloffel and Skye Lambert got off the line, however the duo expected to be chasing the super strong front pack of Hopkinton. While the Hawks assembled behind them, one circuit of the fields saw the Hopkinton top five slide to the fore, followed by Lambert and Schaumloffel, Campbell’s Brooke Sullivan, and Newmarket’s Alanna Hagen and Isabel Pentony. (Newmarket was left out of the preview as they were left off the start list. The original preview had them in it.)
The Hawks would assert their dominance in this one, dive bombing in and snatching the first five spots to roll handily over the rest of the D3 field. Ranked NH’s #3 team this week in the rankings, I feel the Hopkinton juggernaut can shake up the rankings come championship season. Led by Hannah Bennett’s 21:06 win, the top five had a spread of 66 seconds, along with 8 in the top fifteen. Shaylee Murdough, Anna O’Reilly, Cailey Stockwell and Clara Locke as support certainly give Hopkinton the upperhand in D3.
The Hawks would garner all the cucurbits in this one, scoring a perfect 15 to win by 46 points over Mascenic. Newmarket would finish in third with 71 points.
While the girls race got off to a subdued start, the boys race was anything but. Once the gun went off, Portsmouth Christian’s Jonas Teeter was off like shot out of a cannon. He was tracked by Hopkinton’s Ben Daniels with a host of each school’s teammates dragged along in their slipstream. Mascenic was a bit further back trying to assemble themselves, likely expecting the pace to slacken allowing them to regain contact. However at the end of the second fields loop, Teeter and Daniels were still going at it hammer and tong. Heading to the one mile mark, the two were out front with Mascenic’s Drew and Connor Traffie trying to bridge the gap and whole lot of maroon and green in tow.
At the 180 degree uphill turn around Daniels still had a solid lead with Drew Traffie chewing up Teeter’s advantage with Connor Traffie looking to latch onto Teeter for the final 1200 meters. Hopkinton’s Matt Clarner was trying to get away from Mascenic’s Jethro Somero, with teammate Ryan O’Shea, who was having a fantastic second half bearing down on both of them.
Daniels would emerge from the final uphill with about a twenty second advantage over Drew Traffie which he would hold onto through the finish. Teeter had about twenty meters on Connor Traffie, but the wily veteran used the twisty 300 meter finish and ability to stalk his prey to snag the third spot by 1 second. Clarner (not the Swedish online payment company) would snag the final top five spot and the last of the mini cucurbits.
Mascenic has finally started to find their footing winning this one with 28 points, putting their top five in the top ten. Hopkinton’s young squad would grab second with 62 points with the Teeter led Eagles of Portsmouth Christian Academy one point behind with 63 points.
While the Hopkinton girls and Mascenic boys dominated the race for the prized gourd, we’ll see what happens in pursuit of the real hardware when the rest of Division 3 is added into the mix on October 30th.