Derryfield Park will once again be the center of the New Hampshire Cross Country universe when the NHIAA conducts the Division Championships this Saturday. NH has been conducting a cross country state championship for boys since 1930 and for girls since 1975, so the runners of NH Cross Country will be making history with their feet! For a complete history of the championships as well as Meet of Champions, check out “The History of New Hampshire Cross Country” courtesy of LancerTiming. As always they will be providing the professional timing!
We will be there in full force! We will be recording all races which will be posted on the NHIAA State Division Championships Meet Hub! 9 spots on the course! We will also be providing live instagram updates! Catch all the action! To wet your appetite, below are the previews!!! Good luck to all!
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**IMPORTANT – Athletes who wear watches, please DO NOT STOP your watch right when you cross the finish line! With the new bib numbers, this may prevent your time from being recorded.
As stated in the preseason preview, Hopkinton is the team to beat in 2022. While in the preceding 10 weeks that still holds true, things have been shaken up behind the Hawks. But let’s highlight the NH #7 ranked Hawks first. Hannah Bennett and Shaylee Murdough have been a lethal 1-2 punch in Division 3. Follow that by a supporting cast of Elizabeth Trafton, Reese Bove, Clara Locke, Amelia Walsh and Elizabeth Clarner, all which would be many other teams top runners, and you’ve got a really good chance of retaining the D3 crown. And while the field has tightened up a bit behind Hopkinton, they have yet to lose a D3 competition they’ve competed in. If the thermals above Derryfield Park pan out, expect the Hawks to continue to soar above the competition.
Behind them are the teams of Conant, Mascenic and Monadnock. Conant rose through the rankings last season and parlayed that success on into the spring season. At one home meet last spring the Orioles put together three credible 4×800 meter teams showing their depth. Fronted by Kylie Aho, with a strong supporting cast to back her up in Amber Gnoza, Amelia Hill, Bella Nero, Neve Mormando, Amarah Lapinsky and Lainey Somero, it will be interesting to see if the Orioles can swoop in and make some inroads into the Hopkinton juggernaut.
It’s possible Monadnock has the most fearsome foursome in D3. Led by the Bentley sisters, Summer and Anna, the Huskies leapt into the fray last year, sledging away with the runner up spot behind Hopkinton. Sandwiched in between the Bentleys are Alyssa Hall and Sadie Gibson, creating a top four tough to reckon with. Per usual though, the Huskies are in need of that final piece to the puzzle but history has shown they usually figure a way to get it done.
And making considerable improvement over the ensuing year is Mascenic. This season with wins at Newfound, Belmont and Derryfield, the Vikings have been making great strides over the season. Losing in a tie to Hopkinton at Monadnock, the crew from New Ipswich will be looking to play spoiler in D3. Leading the way this season has been the O’Shea sisters, Erin and Kaitlin. Back them up with Emma Schaumloffel, Skye Lambert, Brielle Shippee, Gracie German and Amelia Smith and the Vikings just might have what it takes to pillage the village.
I expect these four to secure Meet of Champions berths and it will be interesting to see the finishing order, but also interesting is which team will get that coveted fifth spot. Gilford was the top team behind Hopkinton, Mascenic and Conant at the Manchester Invite but that was a long five weeks ago. The Golden Eagles will have likely gotten better and certainly will be in the hunt for a top five spot. Led by Maria Tilley and Georgia Eckhardt the Golden Eagles will be looking to ride the thermals.
Newfound, behind Hopkinton, Mascenic and Monadnock at Moonlight Madness, will also be looking to claw their way into the top five moving on to MOCs. Led by Annie Alpers and Ceili Irving the Bears might be able to scavenge a top five spot.
Individually it would be foolish to bet against two time champion Brianna Malone from Portsmouth Christian Academy. I expect Monadnock’s Bentley and company to be in the mix, along with Murdough and Bennett of Hopkinton. The Mascenic twins in Erin and Kaitlin O’Shea should be up there along with Newmarket Alana Hagen and Conant’s Aho. After that I expect the chase pack to be full of Conant, Hopkinton, Mascenic and Monadnock runners.
While Hopkinton has held onto that top spot over the season, last year’s champion Mascenic has not. The Pioneers of Trinity have been the best D3 team all season buoyed by some team pack running that is currently the best in the division. Led by Aidan Palmeter and Max Scharr, along with Nathan Donovan (Danny’s brother) making the jump to create D3’s deadliest trio, the Pioneers have been laying waste to the Vikings at every corner. Considering D3’s is on their home course expect the Pioneers to forge their way to the top of the D3 stack.
And while it sounds as if Mascenic has fallen off the wagon, make no mistake that the Vikings are looking to go berserk on October 29th. Led by #3 returner Drew Traffie and a rebooted Ryan O’Shea, the Vikings are coming around nicely per usual for the end of the season. If they can get their sophomore (and freshman) bunch to break up the scoring five of Trinity, the Vikings might have what it takes to remain at the top.
Emerging from the darkness that is seasonal results is Fall Mountain. Last year Fall Mountain looked to play a spoiler role, having some great pack running but losing out at the end of the season of one of those runners to injury. This year finds them in the same position, having run real close (4 points) to Mascenic at Monadnock’s Moonlight Madness. Led by Ben Tetu and David Northcott, the Wildcats may have what it takes to upset the applecart.
After these three I expect Newfound, Gilford, Belmont and Portsmouth Christian to be looking to fill the remaining spots for a Meet of Champions berth. Newfound were runners up last season, and while needing to plug some pretty big holes with the graduation of the Downes brothers, the Bears have finished runner up multiple times to the teams mentioned ahead of them in this preview. Led by Evan Foster, Jeremy Huckins and Ben Laplume, the Bears will be looking to scratch their way on into November.
Gilford, with the low stick in Patrick Gandini, will be looking to provide him company in Hudson the first weekend in November. The Golden Eagles had a good showing at the Capital Area this past Thursday and will be looking for help from Aidan Bondaz and Carter Forest in their quest for a MOC berth.
Belmont has been on the rise this season as one would expect with Scott Clark at the helm. The Raiders are putting together a balanced attack and have been getting better week to week. Led by Wyatt Divers, the team from Belmont will be looking to make the trip to the Mass border.
Portsmouth Christian Academy will be looking to make the trip south as well, buoyed by their low stick in Jonas Teeter. Teeter has been having a great fall campaign and his anticipated low number will put some air under the Eagles wings. With some help from Ivan Sturgis and Luke O’ Halloran, PCA might have what it takes to get to Alvirne.
Individually one should expect Gandini to ride roughshod over the field. Breaking the course record (previously held by Forest MacKenzie) at Merrimack Valley, he is not only the class of the field but one of NH’s best. Behind him expect Teeter to be leading the chase pack with FM’s Tetu and Northcott, Mascenic’s Traffie and O’Shea, Monadnock’s Joslyn and Joslyn, Trinity’s Scharr, Palmeter and Donovan, Newfound’s Foster and Belmont’s Diver.
Last year, the Oyster River Bobcats broke the 10 year streak of either Coe-Brown or Souhegan hoisting the D2 championship banner. This year, there is yet another upstart team which seems poised to etch their name back into the lineage of team champions. That team is Hanover. Yep, it looks as if one of the winningest schools in state history will have a shot at returning to the top of the podium and they are young! Led by 3 freshman Leah Perreard, Lila Muirhead and Matilda Monroe, the Marauders also have the experienced leaders with junior Sarah Glueck, seniors Maria Anderson and Lauren Eiler. Sprinkle in sophomore Penelope Collins, and Hanover has depth, youth and experience, not to mention confidence from a season of success and momentum building to be officially labeled as the favorites Saturday.
Defending champs, Oyster River should not be overlooked however. While they have had their share of challenges this season, they still finds themselves in the hunt for sure. Led by the significant 1-2 punch of sophomores Mackenzie Cook and Haley Kavanagh, who could score 3-5 points by themselves. They have experience with juniors Talia Banafato and Tessa Brown. Look for the Bobcats to make their presence known.
Next best seems to be Souhegan, the perennial contender. Quietly they have continued to improve throughout the season led by Emma Jarnagin and Stephanie Svendsen. Along with Sarah Bryson, Audrey Littlefield and Riley Devine, the Sabers have a nice look and will not just give the title or a podium spot away.
Then there are a pack of teams looking to make MOCs, which is top 6 in D2. Look for Bow, Plymouth, Coe-Brown, Kennett to contend for these. Bow sports another formidable 1-2 punch in seniors Susanna Zahn and Maya Brochu. The closer their 3-4-5 runners come to Zahn and Brochu, the higher the team will finish. Led by sisters Addi and Elli England, Plymouth is sneaky good. They are coming off a 22 point win over a strong Kennett team led by Kaylee Mclellan and Piper Lopashanski at the Plymouth Invitational. Do not count out the Eagles either. Then we have Sheldyn Fisher-led Coe-Brown. Looking at the 2022 version of one of the best programs in the state and there are several names that are new. However, if the Bears have had a knack for running well at Divisions regardless of their forecasted finish. Expect more of the same.
Individually, the favorite has to be Bow’s Zahn. She has not lost this season to a D2 athlete. Matter of fact she her only loss to a NH athlete has been to presumptive D3 champ Brianna Malone. Contenders who will assuredly push her include Fisher from CBNA, who seems to have tremendous momentum. She is coming off wins at Battle of the Border (18:24) and Massachusetts Twilight Invitational (18:07). Also look for Cook and Kavanagh of ORHS,
What an exciting few months of cross country action. Hasn’t this fall just flown by? As we predicted, the top dogs of DII, team-wise and individually, have impressed with outstanding performances and big victories. Aidan Cox and Coe-Brown were as good, if not better, than advertised. Birhanu Harriman continued his ascent to the pinnacle of NH cross country, perennial contenders (Souhegan, Oyster River, Hanover) put in the work and found ways to get back to the top, and as always, surprises were around every corner. But, the regular season of small weekday meets and massive weekend invitationals is over…now we’re on to Championship Season!!
The team race is completely one-sided, once again, as Coe-Brown is essentially untouchable. However, the race for runner-up hardware is going to be incredible! Here’s how we predict things will shake out once the dust/mud settles on Saturday:
#1: Coe-Brown is looking to take down the DII title yet again, and seems poised to do just that. CBNA, gearing up for NXR next month, will be led by state record holder, Aidan Cox, racing for his last time at Derryfield! Could we see a new course record?! Tyler Tkazcyk and Jamie Lano have quietly had incredibly successful seasons thus far, and as they start to peak for championship season, they will certainly be vying for individual spots on the podium. Momentum also seems to be in their favor, as Nikhil Chavda has really been making a name for himself. Chavda has gotten progressively closer to Tkazcyk and Lano as the season has gone on. Could we see Coe-Brown take 4 of the top 5 spots? Mix in a healthy Gavin Demas and Luc Kerouac, and this team is going to do some serious damage. How low can they go?
#2. As we noted in our season preview, Souhegan seemed poised to return to form this season, as they were bringing back 6 of their top 7 from last year’s crew. This has certainly been the case, but did anyone expect them to be this good? The Manch Invite Small School Champions have taken pack running to the next level. Jaren Noorda leads the way, but runners #2 – 5 are all within seconds. At the recent Pelham Invite, the Sabers’ Finley Irvine, Taloosh Anderson, and Dallen Noorda all finished right together, while #5 Owen Stine was just 12 seconds back from there…that’s their top 5 within 37 seconds…pretty impressive!! Look for the crew to tighten that pack up even closer as they hit the hills of Manchester and take home some hardware!
#3: Hanover comes in as somewhat of an unknown, as their top 5 haven’t seemed to race together much this season…so team scores at invitationals are somewhat misleading. However, racing all together at Black Bear, this squad has shown they have what it takes to be right in the mix this weekend. With their strong contingency of experienced harriers, and much-improved underclassmen, we have them solidly in the #3 spot. Lucian Glasier has established himself as the team’s front runner, while Ryan Faris, Will Parker, Alexander Valentino, and Ben Hourdequin continue to make vast improvements as the season goes on. If Mack Levy is healthy, and the Marauders can shrink their pack time, they could also battle for that runner-up spot!
#4: Oyster River should have the firepower to put them into the #4 position. Chris Jernigan and Henry Hagen have made some serious improvements since last year, and look to be leading this team to another MOC’s berth. Oyster River always finds a way to run their best when the temperatures drop, so don’t be surprised to see them shake things up a bit on Saturday. They’ll rely on Keane Swiesz, Theo Fleischer, and Joey Hannon to move up the pack and close the gap to their top two.
#5: Lebanon continues to impress this season, and could be looking to upset one of the top 4 teams, if everything comes together for them at Derryfield. Birhanu Harriman is clearly the runner-up favorite behind Cox, so a low stick is all but guaranteed. Thomas Wolfe has also had a break-out season, and will be pushing the pace of the chase pack. Mix in Angus Hall and Carson Jones, Lebanon will just need their #5 runner to have a good day and could find themselves moving up the final ranks on their way to the Meet of Champs!
#6: The final MOC berth is a tough one, but we have to give the nod to a surprising Goffstown team. Alexander Gagnon and Chase Hall have led the squad this fall, and will need to continue to blaze the hills this weekend in order to punch their ticket. If their #3 – 5 runners show up ready to race, the Grizzlies should find themselves toeing the line as a team qualifier at Alvirne next weekend!
Individually, barring some earth-shattering event, Cox will win this race in outstanding fashion! Woods Trail Run Champion, Lebanon’s Harriman, should repeat as DII runner-up. Coe-Brown’s two other superstars, Tkaczyk and Lano, will lead the chase pack, and seemed to be in great position to give Coe-Brown 3 of the top 4 spots individually. We expect Hanover’s Glacier, Oyster River’s Jernigan and Hagen, Lebanon’s Wolfe, Souhegan’s Stine, CBNA’s Chavda, and H-B’s Ryan Burgher will all be fighting for every position to help their team live to race another day!
We can’t wait to be back on the trails of Derryfield Park this weekend, and see the best NH has to offer. With everyone ready to peak for Championship Season, and conditions actually looking favorable (fingers crossed!), we should see some of the best team and individual races in years. Best of luck to everyone this weekend!
All eyes will be on historic Derryfield Park as the NHIAA Division Championships return this Saturday. Coming off their dominant performance at the inaugural Merrimack Cross Country Festival, the Bedford girls will look to claim the 2022 Division 1 Girls Championship. Keene, Pinkerton, and Dover though all have designs on upending the Bulldogs and walking away with hardware of their own.
Led by junior Fiona Lee’s individual win, Bedford steamrolled the field at Freestyle Farm two weeks ago to win with just 26 points. Junior Kelseigh O’Neil, freshmen Caitrin Duprey and Abigail Durocher, and senior Collette Sneau all finished in the top 10 and will look to carry that momentum into Saturday’s championship. The Bulldogs also proved capable of navigating the challenging Derryfield course with their 3rd place finish in the Large School Race at this year’s Manchester Invitational.
The Keene Blackbirds will be among the favorites to challenge Bedford. Having won the CVC championship and finishing just one place (4th overall) behind Bedford at the Manchester Invitational, Keene could find themselves on the podium. Keene will look to senior Reagan Hoy, freshmen Aly Farris and Lily Runez, and junior Lillian Hansen to propel them to the top on Saturday. In addition to the Blackbirds, expect to see Pinkerton and Dover fighting for a spot on the stage. With a win at the Pelham Invitational over Division 2 Oyster River and a win before that over a strong field at the Battle of the Border, the Pinkerton Astros will certainly have a lot of confidence in juniors Contessa Silva and Isabelle Groulx, freshmen Gabrielle Bedard and Sarah Rzasa, and sophomore Althea LeBlanc to mix it up at the front of the field this weekend. Having finished just three points behind PA at the Battle of the Border, Dover also has eyes on the top 3 at Derryfield. Led by juniors Isabel McIntyre and Alyson Bortz, the Green Wave will need to continue to get healthy in order to race at the front of the field.
The competition for the remaining Meet of Champions qualifying spots will be tightly contested between Winnacunnet (3rd at both the Battle of the Border and Black Bear), Concord (Capital Area Champions), Alvirne, Bishop Guertin (runner-up at Merrimack’s Fall Cross Country Festival), and Portsmouth.
Individually, look for Bedford’s Lee, Pinkerton’s Silva, and Portsmouth’s freshman Mia Scherr to go to front of the pack. Dover’s McIntyre and Bortz, Exeter senior Meadow Gregory, Concord senior Molly Nyhan, and Keene’s Hoy, Farris, and Runez all figure to be fighting it out in the top 10.
– Amy Sanborn
In 15 years of coaching D1 cross country I don’t think I’ve ever seen a year with more surprises than 2022. That preview I wrote back in August? Not even sort of correct and it’s amazing. This season has had it all so let’s dive into where things are at as we go into the playoffs of the XC season.
- Pinkerton Academy
Had you asked if Pinkerton was going to be the team to beat back in August, I would have pretty flatly said “no” but that’s why this sport is so much fun. A typical D1 one championship team is a combination of 1-2 really fast guys who might even contend to win the race and then some depth runners behind them to keep the score down. Pinkerton? Just outstanding depth. At Battle of the Border, where Pinkerton was the top D1 team, their first runner Finn Christensen-Kraft was the 9th D1 runner. Their 5th runner, Elias Brodeur 22nd D1 runner. That’s a pack attack at its finest. So, what’s been the difference as the season went on? Christensen-Kraft and recent #2 Nathan Binda have had an outstanding second half of the season leaping from PA’s 3-4 to their 1-2. Watch these two to maybe surge into the top 10 of the division this weekend!
- Nashua South
Seeing South win at the Nashua Invitational at the start of the season was my first fun surprise of the season. They had a ton of solid returners but without some big improvements it looked like they were going to be a little short of competing for the championship. The Nashua Invite showed that necessary improvement is exactly what happened. Since then, South has looked excellent running a similar kind of team as Pinkerton with depth being the big strength. Daniel Byrne made a strong jump up this season to become the clear team leader who looks primed for a top 10 finish on Saturday. South’s 2-3 of Clifford Teixeira and Andrew Byrne had been incredibly solid backing him.
Looking at the results from Battle of the Border, a course absolutely nothing like Manchester but still can provide some useful insight, we can see that while Pinkerton won it’s fairly close. It wouldn’t take a lot of difference for the South guys to flip a couple of these spots their way and suddenly we’re looking at a totally different outcome.
Here’s where things start to get really tricky this year and I’m fully in guess mode.
Exeter came into the season with a top runner in Matt Allen who looked primed to compete for the D1 individual championship and a team who looked ready for the same but things didn’t exactly go as planned. Allen suffered a foot injury that kept him out for the majority of the season but in good news for Exeter, Allen returned to racing at the Merrimack Invitational and finished as Exeter’s fourth runner in an excellent top five grouping that was only separated by 40 seconds. With an additional couple of weeks of training could we see him with top runner sophomore Willard Hoffmaster at D1’s? They won the Merrimack Invite well ahead of Salem and Londonderry so they certainly look like a team on the rise.
Kind of funny that our top two ranked teams share a lot of similarities but then our third and fourth ranked teams are similar. In their first year of D1 racing, Windham came in with a guy in Logan Carter who looked primed to compete for the individual title and then some good depth behind seemed to be setup to be up with the top teams. Carter dealt with an injury at the start of the season but has come along recently to help move his team back into the mix to potentially take home the championship. They were less than 10 points behind South at Battle of the Border so if guys like second runner Jack Conrad can get even just a couple of the runners near them it could be an absolute difference maker.
How good is Keene? Great question as usual! Keene likes to run their own slate of meets during the season largely keeping away from their rest of the Division which makes it tough to assess just how good they are. From what I’ve seen, freshman Sullivan Sturtz is an absolute force to be reckoned with. He finished only 20 seconds behind one of the top runners in New England in Lebanon’s Birhanu Harriman at the CVC meet last which sure makes it seem like he’ll contend to possibly even win the race. Second runner Ian Cardinale has been under 17:00 this season as well with the remainder of their top 5 five breaking 18:00 at the Monadnock Moonlight Madness race a few ago. They come in a little under the radar but don’t be surprised if the Keene boys look very strong Saturday.
Concord is another team that found itself with the boon of an outstanding freshman in Josiah Conley who looks set to finish in the top 10 of the division. Behind him, seniors Liam Gleason and Wesley Thompson have looked strong and Concord’s top five has consistently found itself under 18:00 as a group. They had a great win at the Capital City Championship this past week so they’re carrying some momentum into the meet on Saturday.
- Bishop Guertin
Bishop Guertin looks ready to take the last spot to the Meet of Champions with another similar team to what we’ve seen in the previous spots. Sophomore Matt Giardina looks like the guy to beat going into Saturday having not lost to anyone in the Division this season. Fellow sophomore Carson Fischer has also had an outstanding season and just missed breaking 17:00 at Battle of the Border. A strong three to five that all found their way under 18:00 at the Alvirne puts them in a very competitive place with the teams in front of them in this ranking preview.
Anyone else? Of course! In a year with more parity than I think I’ve ever seen, keep an eye on Winnacunnet, Salem and Londonderry. They have all had great races this season and one the right day they all have the tools to fight their way into the top seven and punch their ticket to the Meet of Champions.
Bishop Guertin’s Giardina is in the driver’s seat here. He’s taken on all the top guys in the Division and won every single battle. His closest competitor is probably Londonderry’s Ryan Fortin who has had solid races all season long and wasn’t far behind Giardina the last time they battled. Also from Londonderry, Sean Clegg has had some excellent runs particularly at the Covered Bridge Classic in Rhode Island where he was right on Fortin’s heels. That said, Clegg recently found himself behind Jacob Redman from Bedford who took second behind only Fortin at Merrimack. Also having a great day at Merrimack was Merrimack’s own Cameron Fredette, who took a third and who has looked outstanding all season. The one I’m most interested to see is Keene’s Sturtz who has run some excellent times including breaking 16:00 at Monadnock but hasn’t really run directly against his division rivals. One more to keep an eye on is Carter from Windham who had a slow start to his season but ran 16:09 at the Battle of the Border a few weeks ago and looks to be rounding into great shape at just the right time.
Good luck to everyone and have an awesome race!