by Mike Smith
The 2022 version of the Cougar Classic is a streamlined version of former years, with a Wednesday meet Gould Hill Orchards pulling some of the teams away from the D3/D4 laden field. This year’s version features Campbell, Epping, Mascenic, Raymond, Portsmouth Christian Academy, Wilton and the home team Derryfield. With Hopkinton opting for Gould Hill (it’s their meet!) there will be new individual champions as well as a new girls team champion. Let’s get into it.
With Hopkinton opting out this should leave the door wide open for the Mascenic girls to take the crown. One of D3s top teams, and sporting a strong foursome in Erin and Kaitlin O’Shea, along with Skye Lambert and Emma Schaumloffel, the Vikings should have what it takes to lay ruin to the field. With strong support from Brielle Shippee, Gracie German and Amelia Smith, the Vikings will be using the Cougar classic, per usual, as their final tuneup race before D3s.
Behind them look for Campbell, Derryfield and PCA looking to spoil the party. Obviously if PCA’s Brianna Malone is running that provides a low stick for the Eagles, however if history is repeated she opted out of this one, looking further afield in her run up to the championships.
Next likely is bound to be a Cougar, the question is which one? Derryfield needs to work on finding a fifth in order to score, which they weren’t able to at Manchester. Campbell, led by Amelia Silver and Brianna Flanagan, only scored five at Manchester so will need everyone to be in contention.
Also, if Newmarket is at this meet, expect them to be in the hunt. Led by Alana Hagen, the Mules could be looking to play spoiler.
Individually, PCA’s Malone is the class of the field, if she runs. Next would be Hagen if running. After that expect the front pack and chase pack to be filled with a pile of Mascenic runners and the rest of the field’s top runners.
Without Trinity competing, Mascenic (D3’s #2 team) should be in the driver’s seat on this one. Traditionally the Cougar Classic is where the boys from New Ipswich begin firing on all cylinders. Historically Mascenic has won the last four years at least and will be looking to keep things going. Led by seniors Drew Traffie and Ryan O’Shea, the norsemen look to ransack the race.
Looking to turn back Mascenic is Portsmouth Christian. Fronted by Jonas Teeter, last year’s D3 runner up, the Eagles will be looking to steal the wind from Mascenic’s sails.
If anyone is to break into those top two it would be Derryfield. Fronted by Ian Drake the Cougars are looking to prove they deserve to be in the conversation.
Individually Teeter is likely to have the upper hand here. I would expect to see Traffie and O’Shea looking to make inroads on Teeter, with a pack of Mascenic boys, Devin Lenicki of Campbell, Jaron Lebranche of Newmarket and Derryfield’s Drake making up the chase pack.
by Mike Smith