by Mike Smith
With a classic late fall Nor’Easter soaking everything, 24 hours in advance of this year’s Cougar Classic, course designer and meet manager extraordinaire Shannon Best, did made a course adjustment to keep as many feet as possible off the newly lain playing fields. Running a variation of the fields loop course, racers still got their fair share of grass, trail, uphills and downhills and the now infamous “rock turn” that signifies athletes have less than a mile to go. With plenty of water to accompany everyone’s run, the heavy mist in the air wasn’t really noticeable, especially to those who were running. Not to mention team champion pumpkins and top ten shirts on the line. So let’s get on with the recap.
In the girls race, shortly after the whistle, Amelia Silver and Heidi DiMambro of Campbell, led Erin and Kaitlin O’Shea of Mascenic, and Kylie Aho of Conant out the gate and up the access road hill before the harrowing descent that usually precede the mile mark. Behind these four a large Mascenic pack was sorting themselves out among the other starters and were chasing the front runners. Less than half a mile in, things were looking good for the Vikings.
With the course changes, the next opportunity to check on the race comes with just over three quarters of a mile to go, at the hill on the access road to the rock turn (where you make a U turn around, you guessed it, a rock.) At this point Erin O’Shea had opened up a 20 second back to sister Kaitlin, who was another 20 seconds up on Aho. The Mascenic throng had assembled, with Skye Lambert and Emma Schaumloffel in fourth and fifth, followed by Silver, with Mascenic’s Brielle Shippee and Gracie German in seventh and eighth. Mascenic’s Amelia Smith and Mackenzie Vaillancourt were zeroing in on DiMambro with Conant’s Lainey Holumbo in pursuit.
The athletes emerge from the wooded trail at the highest point on the course, before descending back onto the athletic fields where they would run one circuit on the grass on the outside edge all of the athletic fields. Erin would complete this circuit in first, stopping the clock at 21:22. Sister Kaitlin would be the next in, 25 seconds in arrears. Aho would hold off a hard charging Lambert, with Schaumloffel finishing fifth. Shippee and German would close down on Silver, with Smith and Vaillancourt rounding out the top ten.
With only two teams scoring, and Mascenic having eight in the top ten, the Vikings would win this one handily, 15 to 49 over Campbell, securing the prize cucurbit.
With no Jonas Teeter in this one, Mascenic’s Ryan O’Shea decided to take on the speedster role and got out in front on this one. He pulled out a contingent of Derryfield boys, along with a couple from Portsmouth Christian and teammate Drew Traffie, followed by a pack of Mascenic guys looking to assemble in that chase pack. By the top of the access hill O’Shea still held the lead over Traffie, but not by much, and Campbell’s Devin Lencki and Mascenic’s Derek Somero led the rest of the chase pack. We would see what intervening mile and a half plus would do to shake out the field.
By the turn around rock, Traffie had turned the tables and opened up a 20 second gap back to O’Shea. Lencki and Somero would come up and around the turn together, with Mascenic’s Dylan Callahan and Jake Crawford looking to bear down on Lencki and Somero. A Derryfield contingent of Alex Drake, Benjamin Roy and James Barrett followed, shadowed by Mascenic’s Logan Lucas and PCA’s Ivan Sturgis.
Traffie continued to apply the pressure and had moved away from O’Shea on the hilly final section, breaking the tape at 18:21. O’Shea would follow 55 seconds in arrears. Behind him a battle between Lencki and Somero was raging, with Lencki giving Somero the slip over the soggy field loop. Callahan would run a strong final 1200 meters separating from Crawford by 18 seconds. Derryfeild would put in the next three in Drake, Roy and Barrett, with Sturgis rounding out the top ten.
With five in the top six, Mascenic would be victorious, again scoring 15 to Derryfield’s 46 points. Raymond would be third with 79 points.