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Live Results – Thanks Granite State Race Services
Since 2006, when the best of the best in NH descended upon the rolling and challenging course in Northwood, the Black Bear Invitational has been one of, if not the highest quality cross country meet in NH. Because of all things COVID related, this year’s meet is a tad smaller, with no out-of-state schools, but the competition assuredly will be hot. Add in the fact there are actually more ranked schools competing this year than in 2019, and Black Bear will be one of the premier contests of the fall season. Look for #4 Dover, #5 Oyster River, #6 Concord, #7 Pinkerton, and #8 Winnacunnet on the girls side, along with #1 Bishop Guertin, #2 Oyster River, #3 Concord, #6 Coe-Brown, #7 Hanover and #10 Bow on the boys side.
As there has not been a dominant individual this season, the girls race is loaded with contenders! Fresh off her win last week at the Battle of the Border, Winnacunnet’s Miley Blitzer will look to make it 2 consecutive wins. She was full of run at the end of last week, so look for her to contend in a large way. Also look at Dover’s Brooke Marshall, the Bobcat Invite winner earlier this season, has remained in contention and racing consistently all fall. D3 favorite, PCA’s Brianna Malone is also considered a top contender for the win. So expect Marshall and Malone out front with Blitzer biding her time over the first half of the race. Then expect a slew of top NH distance runners comprising the chase pack. Included in this pack should be Oyster River’s Mackenzie Cook, Bedford’s Fiona Lee, Bow’s Maya Brochu, Gilford’s Cat Stowe, Pinkerton’s Contessa Silva and Isabelle Groulx along with the Concord trio of Molly Nyhan, Alina Pincoske and Shelly Smith. Don’t be surprised to see Coe-Brown’s Sheldyn Fisher, and Conant’s Kylie Aho rolling along with them as well.
As for teams go, the Dover Green Wave have to be the favorites on paper as they currently have the highest state ranking. While they will be gunning for their second major invite win of the season, expect the other four state ranked schools to give them plenty to handle. #5 Oyster River is young and hungry. If their 4 and 5 can finish closer to their top 3, they could be at the top of the podium. Then we have #6 Concord, #7 Pinkerton and the ever improving #8 Winnacunnet. At full strength, Concord would get the nod hear, but this is why we go ahead and actually have the race!
Unlike the parity of the girls race, there has been an individual to rise to the top of the individual rankings of the 2021 season. Gilford’s Patrick Gandini has had impressive win after impressive win in 2021. Beginning with the Bobcat then Manchester in 16:16 and most recently the Lake Region Invite, Gandini is currently undefeated this season. Always setting the pace at the outset of the race, expect Bishop Guertin’s Nate Fondakowski to be right with Gandini. Don’t overlook Concord’s second-half Sam Hilts, who always seems to be around by the end of a race. And, oh yeah, also factor in the comeback of Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox. While he has been sidelined for the past few weeks, Cox will be looking to knock some rust off! We should have quite the race and intrigue up front! A chase pack will certainly form and don’t be surprised if one or more of these names end up challenging the aforementioned individuals. The pack should include BG’s Sean O’Keefe, Dover’s Tyler Sheedy, Oyster River’s Dillon Labonte, Hanover’s Spencer May, Concord’s Zachary Hooper and John Murphy as well as Coe-Brown’s Lars Hogne, Tyler Tkaczyk and Jamie Lano.
Looking at the team race, we have 6 of the top 10 NH programs competing, featuring with NH’s top 3 best teams! NH#1 Bishop Guertin is the favorite as they have been the deepest team and are currently undefeated against NH teams. #2 Oyster River always seems to run the CBNA course very well regardless of the year. Look for their top 5 pack to readily move up the second half of the race. #3 Concord will be looking to put it altogether this week and have come the closest to beating BG. Expect them to get after it with hopes of claiming the top of the podium as well. And then we have #6 Coe-Brown and with the return of Cox, launches them into contention. If their fifth can move up, they will be tough to beat as well. That’s 4 teams all with a realistic chance to at least challenge for a plaque. Add in the #7 ranked Hanover and #10 ranked Bow and we will have an incredible team race as well!!!
**The host school has asked us to remind all those attending the meet to please observe appropriate social distancing as much as possible and leave your dogs at home. It is against school policy to have them on campus.