Results Link to all Races – Thanks Granite State Race Services
Videos and Interviews Below!
Although smaller than the most recent versions, the 20th edition of the Black Bear Invitational celebrated its return in fine fashion as the competition was certainly fierce. And while the hosts are hoping to a full return to normal in 2022, everyone was happy to be back on a true cross country course.
Due to the COVID format, the JVs were featured first within their own session and they were perfect in the lead off position. Right from the outset in the girls race, Winncunnet and Concord squads took the race by the reigns within the team competition demonstrating their respective programs’ depth. Concord sophomore Ava Philbrook pulled away from the field in the final mile to win in 23:03, but Winnacunnet countered with a pack of three as Kaylee Rafferty, Sophia Ravencraft and Morgan Doherty swept 2nd through 5th, 23:12 to 23:34. Philbrook’s teammate, Morgan Doherty took 5th in 23:42. Hanover freshman Wyethe Murray took 6th followed by Plymouth’s Megan Metivier, but then it was back to the Warrior and Crimson Tide seesaw. Winnacunnet’s Maya Tabor placed 8th in 24:36 but Concord countered with Christina Malette and Sophia Regan in 9th and 10th. Winnacunnet’s Clara Nardone then placed 11th followed by Concord’s Katie Earle in 12th. As the dust settled Winnacunnet edged Concord 26 to 34. Bedford was 3rd with 109 points.
In the boys race, it was Bishop Guertin continuing their hot streak and establishing position early. Host Coe-Brown did make it more of a race this week for half the race, but the Cardinals ended up pulling away from the Bears over the last mile of the challenging course. Freshman Carson Fischer won rather easily in 18:17 with his teammate Alex Girata 2nd in 18:39. Coe-Brown’s Maxwell Lemay placed 3rd in 19:00 in front of Hanover’s Lucian Gleiser, but then BG solidified the win with Tom O’Neill and Emerson Warren taking places 5th and 6th. Concord senior Colby Bettens placed 7th while CBNA’s Matthew Corriveau and Luc Kerouac took 8th and 9th. Concord’s Liam White rounded out the top 10 in 19:51.
After a short break to clear out JV teams and spectators, the varsity races took the proverbial baton and accelerated the action. Beginning with the girls, Portsmouth Christian’s Brianna Malone and Dover’s Brooke Marshall established the pace early with Oyster River freshman Mackenzie Cook and Bedford’s Fiona Lee in tow. Bow’s Maya Brochu, Concord’s Molly Nyhan, and Oyster River freshman Haley Kavanuagh formed the chase pack by the mile. Pinkerton teammates Isabelle Groulx and Contessa Silva along with Coe-Brown Sheldyn Fisher and Concord’s Shelly Smith formed a secondary pack.
At the mile Malone had a good lead, but by midway the lead certainly shrunk as Cook eventually passed her during the last mile holding the lead going into the single track with about 800 meters remaining. However, a race is never done when it comes to Malone, as the PCA junior came back strong to eventually win by 11 seconds 19:24 to Cook’s impressive 19:35. Bedford’s Lee was a close third in 19:40 while Marshall placed 4th in 20:01. Bow’s Brochu continued her exceptional season placing 5th in 20:12 a few seconds up on Nyhan. Nyhan’s teammate Smith moved up well into the top 10 impressively to place 7th in 20:20 just a couple seconds ahead of Kavanaugh. With a strong final mile Coe-Brown’s Fisher was able to split up Pinkerton teammates Groulx (9th) and Silva (11th) to place 10th.
The boys race featured a load of talent both individually and between teams with the top 3 ranked schools in NH competing. Couple this with the return of Aidan Cox bolstering the CBNA line-up and anticipation was high for some great competition. From the outset, the race did not disappoint as Gilford’s Patrick Gandini and Coe-Brown’s Cox ripped through the first mile in 4:50 to gain immediate separation on the field. Concord’s Zachary Hooper and John Murphy as well as BG’s Nate Fondakowski, Dover’s Tyler Sheedy, Hanover’s Spencer May, and Coe-Brown’s Lars Hogne, Tyler Tkaczyk and Jamie Lano somewhat formed the chase group.
At the grand junction about 1.8 miles in, Gandini established about a 10 meter lead on Cox. Hooper and Fondakowski were locked in battle as was Murphy and Sheedy in the top 5. Oyster River’s Dillon Labonte was moving up steadily while Tkaczyk, Lano, and May also gave chase. At this point, the team battle was hard to call but Bishop Guertin seemed to have the edge over Coe-Brown, Concord and Oyster River.
Over the course of the last mile, the undefeated Gandini powered to the victory in 16:14 on the challenging CBNA course. Cox would fade out of the top 10 but still score for his team. Hooper would win the battle with Fondakowski to place 3rd and Murphy would win the battle against Sheedy to place 4th. Labonte would complete his climb up the ladder to place 6th in 16:59 edging Tkaczyk, who continued his most improved season to roll to a 17:00. Lano would place 8th in 17:10 edging May (17:11). BG’s Sean O’Keefe would then lead a pack of Cardinals by placing 10th over Hogne with BG’s Matthew Giardina and Joshua Rivers right behind in 12th and 13th to give Bishop Guertin the win with 58 points.
While the race did not go as planned, Coe-Brown competing with their full squad for the first time placed 2nd with 77 points edging Concord by 5 points. Concord was competing without their number 1 Sam Hilts (D1s is going to be a great team race!). Oyster River placed 4th eleven points up on Hanover. Congrats to all athletes and thanks to the Coe-Brown community for hosting a great event!