Girls Division 1
All week leading up to the Division One Championships, it was unclear what we would be facing when we arrived. Many days of hard rain could make the course very sloppy. Adding to that since Division One was last this year there would be 4 races before us and Saturday’s weather not looking good, we knew the weather and course conditions would definitely have an impact on performances. However, I’m sure all coaches were telling their kids the same things…everyone has the same conditions and those that don’t let it affect them will prevail.
As the gun went off and the girls charged up the hill, a front group had already emerged by the 600 meter mark. Bishop Guertin’s Marykate Finn and Dover’s Brooke Marshall were at the front. After the top two, there was a large pack of about 15-20 girls holding strong together. As far as the team battle, Dover went out as did Pinkerton and Keene, but too many girls and too tight to see who was ahead so early.
Heading into the second mile and the hills, Finn, Marshall and Bedford’s Fiona Lee were pulling away from the field. Then the pack came with a couple Pinkerton girls, couple Concord, Exeter, Keene, Bedford…the team title battle continuing. Keene looked to be slightly ahead as a team at the top of the first hill but not by much. Concord had a couple girls up front as did Keene and Dover. The team battle was still too tight to call and would be decided in the file mile.
As the girls headed into the final 800, BG’s Finn had about a 30 meter lead on the field and seemed to heading for the title. Marshall had gone back into second with Lee in third and that is how they would stay through the finish. Concord, Keene and Dover had three strong in the top 20 with an 800 to go so the team title would be tight and come down to the 4th and 5th.
As they came through the finish, Finn would stay in the lead and ended up 25 seconds ahead of the next two. Strong finishes from Keene and Concord sends those two teams ahead of the field with Keene winning by 13 points. Dover ends up third, Bedford fourth, Winnacunnet fifth, Exeter sixth and Bishop Guertin holds on to 7th to make the Meet of Champions by 1 point over Pinkerton.
The Boys Division I race was a fun one with the day’s rain finally catching up with the course. It made for a slippery run but the top guys showed they could still run some fast times!
Nate Fondakowski of Bishop Guertin charged to the front right from the start of the race but maybe held back a little bit not building quite the large lead he is sometimes known for in the first mile of the race. The main pack of runners were about 15 meters behind him and contained all the guys expected to take a run at the win. Next, we got a bit of a surprise as Tyler Sheedy had moved into the lead by the top of the first section of hill and had even built a little bit of a lead. Sheedy was one of the top guys coming into the season but after dealing with some injury issues he hadn’t quite raced at the level he had hoped for this season. It was a bold move to go for the win this early in the race but the pack didn’t seem to take the bait and try to close the gap. On the team side of things, BG was already building a strong case to take the win. Their top three were all in the top fifteen of the race, but it looked pretty tight with Concord through those guys. BG’s fourth and fifth were not far off the main pack and it looked like they were going to be really tough to beat.
At the top of McIntyre, Sheedy had come back to the rest of the race and a front pack of Torin Kindopp, Sam Hilts and Zach Hooper had started to pull away from the rest of the field. With their top two competing for the win, Concord looked really strong but BG’s dominance still stood up by the time their 4-5 came through looking primed for top 25 finishes.
By the time they rounded the door, Torin Kindopp had the race in hand. He had built up a strong lead over the pair from Concord and all that was left was for him to put in a solid kick to keep out of reach. Running a 16:04 on that course today is an accomplishment as it felt like running on ice in a lot of sections so Kindopp should be excited about the Meet of Champions where low 15’s might be in the cards. Teammates Hooper and Hilts who had traded wins all season looked outstanding for Concord coming in together giving their team an excellent shot at winning. In fourth place, the surprise of the individual race was Kindopp’s teammate Jonathan Hills who had finished very close to his teammate at the Amherst Invitational but managed to fly under the radar for an awesome race. Fondakowski held together after his quick start to take a solid fifth place but I suspect he’s going to be after those guys next week on a course that fits his style a little more closely.
The team race was a fun one but BG was easy to pick out as the winner. We knew their top three would be strong but top twenty finishes for their top five was an accomplishment. Concord’s top three was excellent as expected but they just couldn’t match Bishop Guertin in the fourth and fifth spots. Pinkerton’s wild card season ended right where they were predicted by taking third place. Their top two had excellent days and a combination of veterans and some sophomores stepped up to give them a comfortable gap over fourth place. Londonderry managed to outperform the race prediction to take down a strong Keene team with Ryan Fortin in particular getting himself into the mix of the predicted race winners and earning himself the “top returner for the 2022 season.” For fifth place, I apparently should have gone back and read my preview for the whole season as that’s exactly where I had them! Matt Allen in particular was outstanding for Exeter with a top 10 finish and was only steps behind Fortin. It should be fun to watch those two battle next fall! Keene came in next, with their top two doing a lot to give them a low score but they’re going to need strong races out of the rest of their varsity if they’re hoping to make New Englands.
Congratulations to all the runners and good luck next week!