Plymouth Invitational - 10/12/18

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An eggstremely good day of racing happened yesterday in Plymouth, with the girls finishing first and the boys second. Apparently the free food line was eggstremely long though afterward, and to keep from cracking, the kids all told egg yolks. I was sent an email late last night that if Sandu did the write-up to have him add egg puns. I’d love to see Sandu write one of these, but unfortunately you are stuck (like an ungreased pan of scrambled eggs) with coach Irving again. I will do the best I can, despite not being present at the meet. Note to future XC kids who get married - check the MVXC schedule before setting a wedding date. Prioritize, people!

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Once again, David and Sophia demonstrated that they are like a pair of hard-boiled eggs; very hard to beat! Returning to their winning ways, they each captured yet another individual invitational title, with David strolling across in 17:45 and winning by 19 seconds, and Sophia winning her race in a strangely fast time of 19:09, winning by 2:23. I don’t think she was strolling.

The boys raced first, and came away with a runner up plaque, placing all 5 boys in the top 20...maybe. Apparently Christian was left off the results, and Connor placed 20th. So does that mean Connor was 21st? I have no idea. And perhaps Christian was 13th. So Ethan was 14th, or was he 15th? No matter, they all were in the top 21. Matt Reynolds also ran well, snagging runner-up honors to give the Reynolds family a perfect 1-1-2 finish on the day. As I was only sent the first page of each results...that’s all I can say for today. From the photos it looked like everyone else ran well!

 Colton’s Wedding, with (from left) former Coach Neilsen, Brandon McCoo (MVXC ‘13), Matt Doyle (MVXC ‘15), the groom, Colton Ham (MVXC ‘12), Derek Moller (MVXC ‘10), Officiant and Coach Irving

Colton’s Wedding, with (from left) former Coach Neilsen, Brandon McCoo (MVXC ‘13), Matt Doyle (MVXC ‘15), the groom, Colton Ham (MVXC ‘12), Derek Moller (MVXC ‘10), Officiant and Coach Irving

The girls closed out the day - with a win! Where did that come from! As mentioned earlier, Sophia flew to victory, while Emma improved on last year’s 7th-place finish to take the bronze medal in third. Maddy ran well to land in the top 10 (actually top 8), while Tristan continued her awesome October to place 11th. Despite Maizie having a slight off day in her opinion, finishing in 28th place (and loads better than last year), it was still good enough for the team win.

I apologize for running out of painful egg puns, MacNeill, I hope you’ll eggscuse me, but it was like walking on egg shells to find appropriate ones that might crack people up.





Thetford - 10/6/18

 Thetford Ribbon Winners (Tristan 9th Seed 4, Sophia 4th Overall, David 5th Overall, Maddy 9th Seed 3, Isaac 13th Seed 5)

Thetford Ribbon Winners (Tristan 9th Seed 4, Sophia 4th Overall, David 5th Overall, Maddy 9th Seed 3, Isaac 13th Seed 5)

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With 12 races on the day, Thetford is the biggest meet we travel to, although Manchester does have more overall racers. Thetford is unique, however, with it’s eclectic music (they’ve played every genre!), second-to-none t-shirts, brutal course, and it’s set-up. No JV races, the runners are instead divided into races based on their projected times. So every runner has an opportunity to actually win a race, as Tristan did her freshman year when she placed first in the 4th seed race (I believe she is our only ever individual winner at Thetford).

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With no bussing issues (I made sure to triple clear that Andover pick up) and an uneventful stroll along the course (stroll because Maizie was absent), the 5th seed races were underway in no time at all. Out on the course I saw Sharoll cruise by, looking strong, and then MacNeill...MacNeil...where are you, MacNeill? I walked backwards along the course asking the course marshals who run along at the end if they had seen a girl down, and they said “nope”. About then I saw the EMT 4-wheeler at our tent (uh-oh) and ran over to see MacNeill being packaged into a litter. Despite the scary sight, she ended up being fine, escaping with a few battle scars on her knees and a story for next year. Sharoll and Ashley ran great, although I did miss the rest of their race…

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Most of our boys were entered in the 5th seed race, which gave a couple kids who had seen recent improvements a chance to shine. A favorite to score high in the race was Isaac, who being new to this whole running thing is improving by leaps and bounds. However, being new to running also means you are figuring out this whole strategy thing, and Isaac didn’t do himself any favors by starting out in about 50th place! After being reminded that only 15 people received ribbons, Isaac turned on the burners and placed 13th, even passing the guy with the full beard and earning the first ribbon of the day. Kick Of The Day goes to Tomas, who quite literally passed a clump of 10+ runners on the finishing stretch. Gutsy!






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I’ll admit, I was probably more nervous for Tristan’s seed four race than any other (also Maddy’s, I guess), because we build Thetford up for Tristan all year long and I really wanted to see her be successful. Tristan and Morty have a special relationship. Anyhow, apparently Tristan was ready to go as she burst off the line and wasted no time establishing herself in the top ten. Super excited, I probably covered about 6 kilometers running from point to point to cheer her on. A thumbs up from her at the bottom of Morty the Monster assured me that either she was (A) feeling good about how the last mile was going to go or (B) sick and tired of all my “positive encouragement”. Whatever the case, she showed no signs of weakness and ran her best race of the year to snag ribbon #2 of the day, 9th in her race.

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No boys in the 4th seed, so Maddy and Kate were the next to toe the line in the 3rd seed race. I mentioned I was nervous for this one too, which was because Maddy has recently become a Runner with a capital “R” (this involves running and thinking about running more than just at practice) and I wanted her to see the improvement that happens with increased focus and commitment. We were not disappointed, as she passed the 1 ¼ mile mark in 6th place (was she leading earlier? Maybe, I never asked, come to think of it). 6th place held until the top of Morty’s Monster where I was witness to one of the things that you can say happen in XC and in absolutely no other sport I can think of, at least those practiced by high schoolers. The girl two spots ahead of Maddy, 4th, suddenly stopped right where I was standing at the top of the hill and burst into tears, crying “I can’t do it anymore, I just can’t” over and over again. The saddest and most inspiring moment at the same time, she had absolutely found her limit. Then she found a little more, as the small crowd gathered at the top convinced her that she could in fact keep going, and that the top of the hill was only meters away. She went on to finish 5th, I think. We all have those moments, every XC runner, just not always so publicly. Anyhow, Maddy soon arrived at the top of the hill and then demonstrated that she is NOT a downhill runner. 6th at the top, 9th at the bottom, and 9th is where she would stay to finish, earning the third ribbon of the day. What about Kate? Well...Kate raced very good, wiped out near the finish, and crossed the line with a decent time. No worries, right? Wrong! I was flagged down a few minutes later by a volunteer and told that I had to go to the EMT tent pronto. Confused, I ran by the tent and asked who was missing, and Ashley wisely noted that Kate had not returned from the finish area. It turns out that due to her fall, Kate had earned herself a “flapper”, a cut that opens every time you bend your knee. She seemed overly eager to show it off when I arrived. This did in the end result in 4 stitches, so now we have another story to add to the legend of XC. It will be added to my “toughen up, kid” speech that I’ll inevitably give to someone. “...and she finished the race!”

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The 3rd seed had three of our varsity boys entered, Christian in his Flash socks, Connor, and Ethan. Spectating, I had visions that I would wind up back at the EMT’s again. There’s Connor, where’s the rest? Turns out the first time I had just missed Ethan, but Christian in his Flash socks? Nope, I had given up waiting by the time he came by. In the end, Connor had a very solid race, so all wasn’t lost, but Ethan has had better days (it happens to everyone), and Christian was ready to hang his socks from the top of the baseball backstop. I’m still not sure how a pair of socks can slow you down by over three minutes, but apparently it’s possible. Donate those socks to some unlucky soul, please!

No entries in the 2nd seed races, and it was off to seed 1. Emma and Sophia representing MV for the girls, with DRen and MRen representing the boys. Three Reynolds and a York. Emma, I’m guessing, is not the biggest fan of Thetford. She ran great, but I do have a photo I can use to demonstrate what NOT bursting off the line looks like. She is just too nice sometimes! If she had a brother she probably wouldn’t punch him in the forehead like an unnamed teammate did to hers… It was two minutes faster than last year, and that’s the kind of improvement we want! Sophia also ran great, and it’s hard to complain about finishing in the top 4 of over 500 girls and running the fastest Thetford time in MV history, but there was something just a bit flat about the race. It’s all good, though, if that constitutes a less-than-stellar race, then just wait for the stellar one! Matt had a starting issue off the line, which pushed him to the back, but David got out like a bullet with the front pack. Like Emma, Matt ran fine, but nothing to write too much about. He just needs to stop falling and slipping at these races! David meanwhile, hung with the lead pack the whole way, which gradually spread out a bit over the final mile. Perhaps a little tired from the hard week of training, he finished a respectable 5th and joined the short list of runners who have broken 17 minutes at Thetford.








Belmont Invitational, aka Maizie's Meet - 10/5/18

 Sofaloaf, Trish, Mad G, M T Dubs, and Eeeeema at Belmont.

Sofaloaf, Trish, Mad G, M T Dubs, and Eeeeema at Belmont.

Maizie brought October to MVXC in style, running a great race at the Belmont Invitational on Friday. Unable to compete at Thetford on Saturday due to SAT’s, she was able instead to compete in the second best meet of the weekend, Belmont.

With almost perfect conditions (perfect is slightly colder with a slight drizzle), she was able to run the best race of her long career, although most of the thanks is probably due to her cheering section of Eeeemaaa, Trish, Sophaloaf, and Mad G. Consistently passing runners the whole way, Maizie not only beat 2/3rds of the competition (29th of 89), she also ran a 24:43, which on Belmont’s pointlessly long course (5142 meters, to be exact) converts to a 5k of 24:03. That’s a big PR, everybody, and a great way to start the Month Of Champions(hips)!

Black Bear Invitational - 9/29/18

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The Black Bear Invitational at Coe-Brown has an alternate name among MV runners; the PR meet. With 11 all-time PR’s set and 6 more season bests (SB), that only leaves 7 runners who didn’t set a PR of some kind on Saturday. I’d call that a record, but last year was pretty much the same. Good weather, fast competition, a fairly flat (all things considered) course, and another great week of training set us up to run well.

 Andrew’s Finishing Kick

Andrew’s Finishing Kick

The day started with an early bus at 7am, and another new bus driver. Arriving as the first high school team, we were able to snag the empty dugout and avoid setting up the EZ Up. We also got a nice leisurely stroll for the course walk, which Maizie of course won. Some peppy music and a couple fun middle school races (go Andover and miniRen!) passed the time, and soon enough it was time for the JV races.

Our HUGE JV girls squad of MacNeill, Ashley, and Sharoll got us going yet again, lined up way over in box #1, out of harm's way. They do say that smiling uses fewer muscles than frowning, and MacNeill is the master of saving facial muscle exertion. She ended up with an SB, only 21 seconds off her all-time PR, smiling all the way. Sharoll, after an exuberant start, settled down a bit and cruised in under 28 minutes for the first PR of the day. Ashley would finish just a bit later, also running an SB.

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Next up, the largest race of the day, the boys JV. It is neat to stand just over the lip of the first hill, waiting as 270 boys come charging across the field and over the hill into an entrance much, much narrower, often causing carnage. No such luck, er, misfortune befell any racers this time though, as all successfully navigated the bottleneck. Among our boys, Isaac threw down the gauntlet, racing to a huge PR and staking a claim as one of the favorites for next week’s 5th Seed Thetford race. Next across, Andrew, in an SB! Then Tomey, who decided that the course was not “scenic” enough (he loves the hills of Great Glen - well Tomey, you’re going to LOVE Thetford!), but almost ran a PR despite lugging his cast along for the ride. He was followed by Wylie, in a PR time, and Lucas, in an all time PR, which is a big deal because Lucas is an old man. He’s been around a while and run a lot of races. But this was the fastest! Aiden was next across and also ran a PR, a pretty big on at that. Elisha followed, and he definitely did NOT run a PR, but he ran with courage anyhow, with some soreness issues. Finishing up the JV runners for MV was Mitchell, who also ran an SB.

 Maddy On Her Way to a PR

Maddy On Her Way to a PR

Finally the week long wait was over, and it was time for the varsity races. Would the win streaks continue, or would someone else gather the individual honors for the first time in three or four weeks? Sophia was up against two girls who raced faster than her at Manchester, plus her first meeting with Coe-Brown’s Addie Cox, one of the top DII returners. David was up against the Concord duo of Forrest and Eli, neither of whom had been beaten by a NH runner yet this year, plus a couple quick Coe-Brown runners. Sophia got it started in the girls race, and it had all the drama of today’s Patriots game, which is to say...not much. But it worked out very well for our side! Sophia pretty much dictated the pace, and made a move as planned just past the halfway mark, running away with a 21 second victory and the only girl under 19. Emma, dealing with a little soreness of her own, got off to a great start and held her own the whole way, just missing the top 20 in 21st place. Maddy again had one of the races of the day, with her first sub-23 clocking and a PR. Guess what she did for maybe the first time on Sunday? Ran! And then she ran a PR at the next race! Hmmm, could the coaches have been right this whole time? Now if we could get a certain few other people to self-motivate… Bigger things are in store for Maddy, as she seems to suddenly be a Runner with a capital “R”. Maizie was back into our 4th position, and had some serious battle wounds to show for it. Not one to get a little blood and missing skin slow her down, we discovered much later (“I think I ran in the high 24’s, blech”) that she actually ran faster than she thought, in fact running her fastest XC race ever. Woo-hoo! She had less of a wobbly head today, so all that forward momentum must have helped (although that wobbly head comes out when she lectures Trish). Kate was our 5th runner today in an even 25 minutes; missing from the race roster last weekend she showed toughness today. Our 6th runner (tie-breaker, should we need it) was Tristan, aka Trish, with a very smooth and controlled race, as she’s banking energy for Thetford. Overall the girls placed a remarkable 12th of 29 teams, one heck of an improvement from last year when we were 19th of 23. Great job ladies!

 Christian Realizes He PR’s…But…No $100

Christian Realizes He PR’s…But…No $100

The boys had a directive to get out quick, before the narrow funnel of the woods. As I sprinted away from the start area to make it up to my spot in the woods I saw Matt and Dave right out front with a great start. One of the best things about spectating cross country is the waiting game, waiting at different points of the course to see who pops out first. This is particularly fun when 1) you have a front runner, and 2) when that front runner has competition. So the game was at it’s peak at Black Bear. The first sighting, at about the ⅔ of a mile point, had Concord 1-2 with MV 3-4. Seeing David and Matt together was a great thing, especially considering Matt’s been under the weather recently. I almost missed Ethan and completely missed Connor, as each had gotten much better starts than expected. I didn’t miss Christian, as I wanted to give him $100 of encouragement (he was being bribed. Whatever works!). At the 1 ¼ mark, the top three had separated, as David had wisely decided the pace was too slow and began pushing. Then nothing for a half mile, until the top of the hill just before mile 2. David had put a small gap on EBD, and a larger gap (10 meters) on Forrest. Finally, at the 2 ½ mark, DRen and EBD had separated, and the race was down to 2. Exciting! Disappointment, with a glimmer of hope, a few minutes later as EBD pops out of the woods first and heads down the track toward the finish. 15 meters back was DRen, and at that point second was looking pretty good. But not good enough! With his renown “sneaky speed”, and with COURAGE BORN OF FORTITUDE AND BELIEF, DRen ran out into THE LANE OF HIGH HOPES and ran EBD down, capping the win with an unnecessary but dramatic lean at the line for a photogenic (but not photo) finish. I’m not sure the last time I jumped as high as I did when I realized he had won - probably the finish of the 2011 State Meet which had identical finish drama. The great races continued for the rest of the team farther back, as MRen finished a solid 20th in an SB, Ethan ran a PR and almost broke 19 (so close!), Christian ran a PR as well but missed out on $100 for at least another week (breakind 19 at Thetford would be worth at least $150, I would say), and Connor ran an SB. Not to be forgotten was Abuth, running in the varsity race because he’s had a couple great weeks of training, and we were curious how he would run all by himself (he tends to follow). The result was a huge PR, so now we know! The boys finished a solid 14th out of 30 teams, and while it’s still early, 6th for DII if you add in Souhegan. We have the right trajectory, gentlemen!

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Manchester Invitational - 9/22/18

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What a day for cross country!

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A day that cooled and cleared as the races went on welcomed us to Derryfield Park on the first day of fall. Our first day of cool racing, and it hardly could have gone any better. It was the kind of day that makes you remember why you spend every day from December 1st counting down until XC season arrives again (or maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it!). Everyone arrived in great spirits after a delicious PIZZA (homemade) supper the night before in Andover, home of the one and only WalterTheDog. With three races per gender, we had the opportunity to enter runners in a race that best suited them, and we ended up with athletes in 5 races on the day.

Girls JV “C” Race

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Our first race of the day, and MacNeill had company this year. She lined up with Ashley and Sharoll to get things going for MV. Sharoll had a great start, and a great finish to cross the line in one of her better races of the year. MacNeill had her typical slower start (to psych out the competition?), then put the pedal down to finish (with a smile, of course) just under 27 minutes with one of her best races ever. Ashley also had her best race of the year so far, and just like that the day was looking up for MV.

Boys JV “C” Race

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Due to illness, missed busses, and changing races, Lucas was the only MV entrant (from an original 5) in this race. Far from being “lonely Lucas”, however, he quickly make friends with the boys from Milford (Lucas: “where are you from?” Milford boy, pointing at MILFORD on his uniform, “Milford”). Dealing with knee issues have slowed Lucas’s recent races, however today he was not to be denied a good race. He crossed the line under 30 minutes, a whole 8 minutes faster than Tuesday!

Boys JV Race

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Losing Wylie to shinsplints brought the team down to 4 runners, so Isaac was “promoted” from JV “C”. It was a good move, as you will see! Along with Isaac; Elisha, Andrew, Tomas, and Abuth lined up at box #23. Elisha got off to a great start, followed by the rest of the crew. Abuth started in the way back, but quickly progressed up until by the mile he was on Elisha’s shoulder, along with...Isaac! The solid pack of three was quickly followed by Andrew and Tomas. Coming out of the woods and into the finishing stretch it was clear things were going well - Abuth and Isaac both went under 24 minutes for the first time while Elisha did as well, while behind them Andrew and Tomas (with a cast on his arm) might not have run PR’s but did run good enough for a decent JV team result. As a team they placed 37th, defeating 4 teams (which may not sound like much but it’s 4 more than last week!).

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Girls Small School Championship

Going into the race, MV has had a grand total of one individual winner of the Manchester Invitational, Kristie Schoffield in 2015 (who currently runs for the nationally 6th ranked Boise State Broncos). Bobcat/Great Glen Invite winner Sophia was listed as one of the favorites, so the potential to add to the short list was certainly known, although with all the out-of-state entries it was hard to tell who the competition would be. Emma has been on fire recently as well, running a PR at Great Glen and placing 20th at Bobcat. Maizie, Tristan, and Maddy have all been improving as well, so with the good weather we expected some good results. We were not let down, either, as Sophia ran to a rather easy win despite some setbacks mid-race, and Emma ran a PR (!) to finish 16th and win a BLING medal along with Sophia. Maddy has been on a bit of a running awakening recently, and knocked almost a minute off her best time this season, while coming within 30 seconds of her all-time PR. Speaking of a running awakening, Tristan crushed her season PR by almost a minute as well, finishing as our 4th runner. She looked great at the top of the hill! Maizie pulled off the magic trick of finishing as our 5th runner yet scoring as our 4th. We think she ran a 24:41 (solid), but the scoring system missed her for some reason, and when she reappeared in the results she was one place ahead of Tristan in 24:21. It does not affect the team scoring, so we’ll let it be. What a great day by the girls! 14th of 34 teams!

Boys Small School Championship

David, Ethan, Connor, Christian, and Matt were entered in this race. We again had a pre-race favorite in David, although to read the preview you got the impression that the “favorite” favorite was another runner that David beat last week. Fuel for the fire. Also at stake were household bragging rights, as so far DRen and SRen were tied for wins on the season. In the end, David executed his pre race strategy perfectly, running away over the final mile to victory, MV’s 3rd individual Manchester Invite win (first by a boy) and second on the day. While Matt was still suffering from a respiratory ailment, he still finished respectfully as our #2 boy, helping the team in the process. While no one set a PR today, the Three Musketeers all came fairly close, with Christian and Connor going under 20 for the first time this season (Ethan already had). Ethan was again our third man, running only 2 seconds slower than his PR and knocking on the door of the 18’s. Christian unleashed a massive effort over the final mile to improve about 20 spots, while Connor ran a much more aggressive race out of the gate and had the solid time result to show for it. As a team they placed 19th of 47, absolutely fantastic!

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Statistics

Some interesting statistics on the day, when all races are compared. MV boys finished as the 8th DII team (I think), while the girls were a surprising 7th, based on time. Most, but not all, of the DII teams were there.Both David and Sophia ran the top DII times of the day, and both also ran the third best New Hampshire times of the day. David moved from 5th to 2nd on MV’s all-time record list (5 seconds off the record), while Sophia entered the list at number 3 (9 seconds off the record) . Emma, it should be noted, is now the 1st runner off the list, as she is 11th all-time. The boys team also ran the 10th fastest team time run by an MV team at Derryfield.

All in all, this was a perfect day - the kind of day we run cross country for!

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Florence 5K, or, 2nd Home Meet - 9/18/18

 The Fab Four!

The Fab Four!

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Our second home meet, AKA the Florence 5k, proceeded as scheduled thanks to a kind southern move by Former Hurricane Florence who left our course mostly high and dry. Dry is good, since someone apparently broke a board in our bridge in the boys race. Oh well, another year, another board. That bridge has taken some beatings, most recently someone knocked down Sandu’s railings and threw them in the stream (why?). Earlier, a tree fell directly across the bridge and some kind soul tried to safely remove it, but a large piece fell and broke a couple boards (since repaired). It’s mostly the railings though, I think this is the 3rd or 4th railings to be demolished. Maybe we should just use an electric fence…

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Anyhow, with some legendary folks working the finish chute and a man (thanks Lucas’s Dad!) doing the writing of results for the first time EVER, we were set to race. All 5 teams showed up, with those from the southern half of the state surprised we were even able to host a meet. The team had a directive to run a quick race (it is our home course, after all) but stay in the comfort zone with an eye towards Saturdays Monster Meet. The girls performed surprisingly well, only losing to John Stark on a tie-breaker (we lost to them by 5 last Tuesday). A disclaimer, Souhegan ran their “B” team (or “C”?), but as they say, you race who shows up. Sophia cruised to another win (yawn), sneaking under 20 to run the 6th-fastest time ever run on our course, only one second slower than last years Capitol Area winner. Emma took second, and moved up to 4th on the top ten list of MV girls on the current course. Maddie continued to improve, moving up about 60 places in the 59 racer field over the last two miles, while Maizie and Kate once again performed very solidly in the muggy conditions. Tristan continued her annual “March to Thetford”, running the best race of the season and looking great doing it. Rounding out the runners were Sharoll, looking much quicker than last weekend, and MacNeil, who looked happier than ever. I did think I saw her grimace last Saturday, but certainly not today.

 I told the boys to “reel them in”, so this is Christian “casting”.

I told the boys to “reel them in”, so this is Christian “casting”.

On to the boys race...and the issues. Oh Christian. One day we’ll have a write-up without a Christian story, but this is not it. What was it this time? No uniform! By the way, his relative did bring it in time, and Christian, I hope you thanked her because it wasn’t HER fault you forgot it! He didn’t wear it though, choosing a retro 2017 uniform instead. Oh, and no spikes again. Hmmph. At least he tied his shoes well this time, which is more than can be said for Matt. I was at the top of the hill when Matt goes by and yells (at me) “CAN SOMEBODY GET MY SHOE?” Yes, Matt, “somebody” can. So I got his shoe and drove it to him very shortly, but he refused, claiming he has tough feet and would rather run barefoot. We’ll see tomorrow, but I don’t think he was limping. Good thing we cleared those pounds of broken glass from Rolfe Park years ago! Anyhow, David kept Sophia from getting the family lead by easily winning the race, while Ole One Shoe placed 5th. The Three Musketeers of Ethan, Christian, and Connor all ran together again, but perhaps took it a hair too easy, finishing just under 22. Just 30 seconds faster and we would have won the meet boys! No real worries, it looked like a good team tempo. The rest of the boys rolled in without bee stings, which is always a win. Sorry if I don’t mention your names boys, but I’m running out of stories. Try losing a shoe next time or getting stung by a bee and you’ll get a mention - which reminds me, while setting the course up with my Pride Block (like a study hall) today, and huge limb crashed to the earth out of the blue about 10 feet from where we were. Random.

Great job today everyone, Crazy Hills on Thursday, Manchvegas on Saturday, lets GOOOOO!






Bobcat Invite - 9/15/18

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 The Twister

The Twister

 Maizie Runs the Shoes Off the Competition

Maizie Runs the Shoes Off the Competition

Our much-anticipated first major meet, the Bobcat Invite, got off to a great start as my drive-to-school daydreams came true in the form of Tony in the driver’s seat of the bus. “I’ll stop anywhere you want!” he said, and was very patient later as I had him take two wrong turns on the way to the meet. A slightly lighter load than normal (missing three athletes), but spirits were high on the drive down Route 4.

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Upon arriving, we inspected the famous hay bales of the course, and discovered Mitchell (who had notified Connor, who had notified me, and then I promptly forgot as I tried to figure out where the other two were) arriving just after the bus. Also arriving with Mitchell, a large table and two (TWO!) bowls of Mitchell’s moms famous pasta salad. Accompanied with the Reynolds brownies and large bag of apples, there was plenty of food to go around post-race.

As the mugginess of the day began to increase, the Junior Varsity races were sent on their way by the echoing blasts of muskets. In the girls race MacNeil ran by far her best race of the year, while Ashley accomplished one of her pre-season goals in running a continuous mile. In the boys race, Elisha continued dropping time and getting quicker, while Abuth moved up throughout the race. I admit I may have yelled at Abuth with my limited spanish from Looney Tunes cartoons (Speedy Gonzalez), who knows what I actually said but it did seem to work as he looked quizzically at me and actually sped up. Everyone had a great time leaping over the hay bales, although I only saw one attempt at a flip, and it resulted in a hard butt landing.

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On to the girls Varsity race, and our first meeting with some of DII’s top racers. Sophia got things going with Lauren of Milford and Arielle of Souhegan, as expected. Going into the woods Sophia was just ahead, as planned, while coming out of the woods she had gapped the competition and the race against the clock was on (as planned). Behind her Emma had a solid start, although she was slightly affected by the heat and work of the week she still managed to stay strong, run a solid time, and earn the 20th place medal. Kate worked her way up to third on the team in her fancy new shoes, just ahead of Maizie, running well in thick heat that usually does not cooperate with her breathing. Tristan wrapped up the scoring for the girls, faster than last year, and seemingly unaffected by the girl face-planting in front of her off the hay bale.

On the boys side of things, David was the defending champion and ran like one. He managed to keep us on our toes, as he shot to the lead, got caught by second place and almost third and fourth, pulled back up to the shoulder of the leader with a mile to go, and finally pulled away over the last woods loop to win fairly easily in another course record. It was an impressive race, and I (Coach Irving) was forced to tuck my lecture away about going out too fast to save for another day. I still have the lecture, David, be careful. With the win, David and Sophia have each won 4 races and not won 1, and each has a course record to their name (David may have John Stark’s Wampus record, but who knows?). Matt ran a tough race, a bit affected like Emma by the heat and work of the week, but just missing a medal in 24th place. Next across was Ethan, slowly approaching the sub-19 mark. Following Ethan was Christian, who karate-kicked off the hay bales to win “ Best MV Performance Off a Hay Bale” of the year. He also came painfully close to a sub-20, but hey, the jump/kick was worth it. Connor wrapped up the scoring with a much improved time over a year ago. Things are looking good!






Return to the Sidehill Wampus, aka John Stark - 9/11/18

 The Three Musketeers and a Groupie

The Three Musketeers and a Groupie

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If you Google “sidehill wampus”, the 5th image (that returned for me, anyhow), is an image of last year’s girls team taken through a traffic cone. Perhaps we have a new mascot? At least a name for our pre-season camp, finally? Camp Wampus. Sounds legit. Anyhow, in honor of former Coach Neilsen, who would always regale us with stories of the infamous Sidehill Wampus at camp, last year we decided to rename the John Stark course “The Sidehill Wampus”. I labelled it as such on this site last year and attached that picture, and now we are inexorably tied together.

Today found us back at Sidehill Wampus, on a not hot but very humid day. It was a tricky day for a race, as we held our usual long run on Monday, instead of Sunday, and the plan for the long runners was to run very controlled. The Pipeline Loop (all our loops have names, even Poop Loop, past the cow barn fan in Boscawen - especially interesting to run past on a cold February day) ended up being shorter than expected, a rare occurrence with “Irving Miles”, but it allowed us to be a bit more loose with the rules today. So everyone ended up running exactly how they felt like running.

 The Happiest Runners

The Happiest Runners

A small meet, it was just us, Sanborn, John Stark, and 3 kids from Manchester West. 2 of those West kids were twin girls, one of whom just happened to be the defending New England Champion and New Hampshire Runner of the Year Julia Robitaille, and her sister, All-New England runner Corrinne Robitaille. Sophia’s plan was for a hard tempo, and it that is what she truly ran (she said 80%) than it was a great sign of things to come. Covering the first mile in third, then moving into second to finish 13 seconds down on Julia R. is a very good tempo. Moving up throughout the race was the trend of the day, as Emma started out in about 7th or 8th place, then just eased forward into 4th place (giving us a score of 1-2 as West didn’t score). Her easy paced race was three minutes faster than last year’s easy paced race. Nice! Our next runner across was Maddy, finally placing where she finished the season before as the next one after Emma. Maddy took the moving forward thing to the extreme, as she not only passed several runners from other teams, but also three from our own team (no doubt giving kind words of encouragement along the way!). Just behind Maddy was Kate, who is becoming very dependable. I also pointed out that just like Abuth, she seems to always run close to a teammate. Soon she will strike out on her own, and look out then! Maizie soon followed, staying tough despite feeling like she was breathing through a straw. Then Tristan, continuing to build toward Thetford, her annual coming-out party. Wrapping up the racing for the MV girls was Sharoll and MacNeill, the happiest runners on the planet. If anyone ever gets a picture of MacNeill NOT smiling while running, I’d like to see it!

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 We Love the Sidehill Wampus!

We Love the Sidehill Wampus!

Pretty soon it was the boys, with their new cheer taking to the line. “Four on three, four on three, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR!” This was actually the one year anniversary of the cheer. The meet featured some talent, one solid runner each from Sanborn, John Stark, and West. The John Stark runner got out quick, perhaps looking to defend the home Wampus on senior day. David, perhaps seeing an opportunity to equal his sisters win total, went out even faster and ground out a very fast (tempo?) time to win fairly easily. Behind these two, Matt played follow-the-leader with the West runner, until it came to the last 250 meters of track. Let’s just say Matt gave the running equivalent of “Buh-Bye!” Farther back, the three musketeers of Christian, Ethan, and Connor had a whale of a good time, pack-running and coasting past groups of runners from other schools. They all finished within 7 seconds of each other with very respectable times, essentially winning the meet on the strength of pack running. After that the runners trickled in one-by-one, led as usual by Elisha. Running his best race of 2018 and following Elisha was Andrew, then Isaac in his debut race. Aidan crossed next, and likely felt like he was the only one in the race as there was no one ahead of him for three minutes and no one behind for two. Truly on his own. Ryan managed to outkick Lucas right at the end, while Mitchell, dreaming about his puppy - the current cutest puppy in the world - wrapped up the day for MV.

ON TO THE HAY BALES!!





Great Glen Invitational - 9/8/18

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Finally! A beautiful, cool day. Great Glen at Mt Washington always delivers beautiful weather. I keep saying that and keep thinking I’ll jinx it for the following year, but it hasn’t happened yet (knocks on wood/head). Despite my warnings, at least one athlete set their alarm for pm rather than am, yet still arrived on time (not so for the bus…). 2+ hours after boarding, we pulled in, greeted by cannon fire from the Civil War reenactment across the street. Every year I think, “they should start this race with a cannon!”. Maybe I should say it out loud.

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As this was an invitational, the JV girls were up first. We had three entered, MacNeil, Sharrol, and Ashley. All three ran to their best times of the season, courtesy of a redesigned course that was no longer almost ½ miles too long! Following the girls were the boys, with a large contingent representing MV. Notably, Elisha broke 24 for the first time, while Abuth came very close. Following these two were Tomas, Andrew, Aidan, Lucas, Ryan (in his first high school race), and Mitchell, who apparently thought that the area was so beautiful he explored some extra trails. Great racing, boys!

The main event for the girls lined up next, the varsity race. Unfortunately, Nashua South was absent, along with the defending champ and one of NH’s best runners, Callie Coffin. Plenty of talent remained in the field, however, as we would soon see. At the gun, a pack of about 8 runners formed at the front, dominated by Hanover individuals. At the almost-mile, Sophia was bookended by two Hanover runners, while a few seconds back Emma ran with three girls from Plymouth, White Mountains, and Kennett. At some point apparently Sophia had to get aggressive in order to keep from getting pushed off the trail, and took off to eventually win in a very quick 18:37, establishing a course record that is very solid. Emma seems to have turned her weakness into a strength, and moved over the hills in the second mile to pass all but one other girl and place third, in a new PR. Speaking of PR’s, Maddie was next across in a time that is about a month ahead of last year, while right behind her, and somewhat shocked by her massive improvement, was Kate Butt. She probably had the race of the day, as she was a bit under the weather before the race yet still managed a big PR. Wrapping up the scoring for MV was Tristan, toughing it out all the way across the line, clinching a surprise third place for the team.

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The almost-final race of the day, the boys varsity, promised fireworks as three solid DI programs showed up: Pinkerton, Nashua North, and Keene. The fireworks started right away, as Matt got tripped up and run over at the gun, emerging from the pile dead last. Despite being bloodied up, he toughed it out to finish a solid 24th. Ahead of him, David was locked in a tight race with a Keene runner. While he was bested in the end by the Keene runner and one from Pinkerton, his time was a great place to start the racing season with. The rest of the crew ran their best time to date this year as well, with Ethan going under 20 already and Christian coming close, while Connor was also under 21 minutes. Despite running only 5 boys, the team managed 6th place out the the 12 team field.

The actual final race, the coaches race, saw two-time defending champion Sandu handing the torch to someone else as he chose to run with Sophia. Sophia ran a superb time, good enough for 14th in the varsity girls race had she run it. Irving “ran” too. He’s got some work to do. Then it was off to home again, with a stop at Friendl...psych...Gorham House of Pizza to fill our bellies.

Next week a training meet at John Stark, then it’s off to the Bobcat Invite, our first big invite, complete with muskets and hay bales. Not one to miss!

 

Home Meet #1 - 9/5/18

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Thermometers broke, snow plows were put into use to push aside the humidity, vacation ads were created touting “Visit New Hampsha’, The New Tropics!”, and cross country runners ran. With the shimmering heat mirage spectators could be forgiven for thinking the finish of the boys race was a visual trick on the eyes; was that two Merrimack Valley boys crossing the line at the same time? Or one reflected? And what about that 5th MV guy? Didn’t he already cross two minutes ago? And in the girls race people were left wondering if everyone else took a wrong turn after a two plus minute gap after MV’s number one, and another two minute gap after MV’s number two. Maybe it’s just home course advantage? The results will show.

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In all seriousness, no records were going to be broken given the fearsome double H’s - Heat and Humidity. However, everyone showed up excited to crank out a three mile run at home, heat be...darned. A small meet to get the kinks out of the system, only Plymouth and John Stark were expected, and surprise! Actually it’s Plymouth and Lebanon. No worries though, and the girls race got off on time.

After cranking a fast first mile each, race leaders Sophia and Emma both decided to back off a bit, perhaps finally realizing that yes, it is hot. Not long after, Maizie, followed by the threesome of Maddie, Katie, and Tristan rolled through. The heat did claim one victim on the day, however, as Tristan appeared under the tent before the race was over. Likely a very smart move. The race finished in the same order, with Sophia going two for two as a high schooler, Emma besting everyone except Sophia by almost two minutes, Maizie turning in another great hot weather performance, and Maddie and Katie staying solid to finish the scoring. Overall, the girls just missed winning as a team, finishing just behind Plymouth.

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For the boys race, no one quite knew what to expect as the Reynolds brothers were left to their own devices. Were they going to pace each other, or was it every Reynolds for himself? And where is Christian…? With Coach Irving confusing all spectators and probably everyone except DRen by cheering for NAU (a NCAA XC reference - I’ll explain if you ask), the brothers Ren. paired up for the entire race, winning by a comfortable minute, giving the family THREE victories in just two races. Not a common thing to happen. Meanwhile, in the trenches...Ethan was having the race of the day. In about 10th at the mile mark, he began picking off runners in the middle mile, moving all the way up to 5th. Then, with a tremendous kick at the line, he flew into 4th. Connor was a dependable 4th place finisher for the team, while Elisha in only his second race ever placed as MV’s 5th man, securing the win for the team, and giving us two sets of twins in the top five. As I write this, I realize there is an asterix...we had 5 twins in the top 5. Confused? Connor is a twin! What a great factoid this is! By the way, Christian was found later, running and cheering along his teammates.

All in all, it was a great day, with surprisingly good results for the weather, and great attitudes all around! The weather looks great for Great Glen on Saturday, our first invitational. Go MVXC!

Oyster River - 8/31/18

Oyster River - 8/31

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Heat, heat, and more heat. So hot that practice was cancelled, which has happened only a couple times in the last decade and a half. Then finally, just in time, cooler temperatures! We really got lucky with the weather for our first meet, hosted by Oyster River. Held on the site of the Bobcat Invitational in two weeks, the duel also featured seacoast teams St. Thomas and Portsmouth.

The first obstacle of the day was getting a full bus. One individual, who shall remain unnamed, had everyone scouring the streets for him when finally he was located...snoozing in bed! 20 minutes late and we were on our way with a complete team. We arrived in plenty of time and were surprised with a donated EZ Up from the Carey-Matthews. Not any old EZ Up, it was the American flag! We were feeling very patriotic under the stars and bars. We decided it would be our “small meet” cover, and haul our monster PRIDE canopy to the big meets. We will be easy to find anywhere!

 

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After a course walk where Maizie once again demonstrated her speed walking skills, it was off to the races. Girls lined up first, with instructions to not push the pace until later in the race. As often happens, however, a Random Racer from another school blazed out to an early lead, so Sophia gave chase. Soon the Random Racer was dispatched, and Sophia was left alone in the lead, with me pleading for her to back off a bit. Emma was content to lurk in about 5th for the first two miles, as Maizie, Addie, and Kate/Katie/Katherine cruised along in the middle of the pack. The girls were given the go-ahead to go for it over the final mile, and Sophia more than doubled her lead, winning by almost a minute and going under the 20 minute mark. I guess she’s undefeated! Emma reeled in the Oyster River girls and had the Portsmouth girl in her sights, but ran out of real estate, finishing third in just over 21 minutes, close to her all time PR. Maizie held steady throughout the race, placing in the top half as well, while Madisyn, fresh off her Grand Champion goat showing that morning at the Hopkinton Fair, suckered the field with a slow start then slowly advanced forward to finish as MV’s 4th runner. Addie, in her first ever XC race, placed as out 5th scorer, while Kate/Katie/Katherine (despite falling and coming home covered in dirt) was only a second or two back. Almost everyone was faster than they were one year ago, which is always the plan. Not a bad opening to the season!

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Next up were the boys. DRen and MRen had a slightly tougher field to battle with, as Oyster River boasts three of the top 15 DII returning runners. True to the plan though, the brothers mixed right in with the OR pack and ran their own race. In the end, DRen made it a Reynolds sweep with a fairly easy win, considering the competition. MRen almost made it a Reynolds sweep of the top two, but took a minor wrong turn and lost all momentum at the crucial final stretch. He placed 4th as it was, helping MV break up the OR pack which otherwise would have swept the top 8 spots. Ethan was next across, following 30 seconds later by Sleepyhead, both in the top half of the race. Connor was 5th man, wrapping up the scoring for the Pride. Despite a 5 point loss to Portsmouth and a third overall, the boys have reason to be optimistic as the 3-5 runners were substantially faster than one year ago.

Next up is a duel at home that looks to be HOT, with John Stark and Plymouth visiting.

Preseason Camp

Preseason Camp @ Waterville Valley

 On North tripyramid, pointing at waterville valley ski area

On North tripyramid, pointing at waterville valley ski area

 going down the south slide

going down the south slide

Preseason camp, our 14th (or was it the 15th?), was held at our favorite site, Osceola Vista Campground near Waterville Valley. Four days of running, hiking, sunshine, rain, challenges, and best of all - team building! Our trusty chaperones Rob, Brian, and John were back for their 4th straight year, along with Coaches Sandu and Dave, and DeAna Irving. One last year for chaperone coffee from the RV and fresh wild mushrooms…

The week began with a run up beautiful Livermore Trail, more of a gravel road, with one single hill (three miles long). Everyone made it to the meeting point, and then we proceeded to discover a superb swimming area (Matt is a certified lifeguard, yay!). Then...Tristan and Noelle...where are they? Somehow, on the wide, straight road, they took a wrong turn on a next-to-invisible trail, gave up, and went back to camp. It’s always something!

 the skaters

the skaters

The next day proved to be a very wet day, so plans were changed and the hike was put off a day. We discovered the Waterville Rec. Center and spent an hour playing dodgeball, where we discovered why it has been banned from many Phys. Ed. classes. Those balls hurt when they hit you in the face, right Maizie? After a quick snack, we ran through the last of the drizzle and ascended the Waterville Ski Area, with DRen setting a speed record of about 22:30 in the process. Back down the mountain, and on to the ice arena! What a comedy of errors. I’ve never seen so many walkers, aka ice skating aids, being pushed around a rink. Surprisingly, everyone survived unscathed and unconcussed. Probably the most dangerous thing we did all week! Everyone emerged with an increased respect for figure skaters.

The next day, Thursday, was a weather gem. Cool, breezy, and...SUNNY! On tap for the day was Mt. Tripyramid, one of the tougher hikes in the White Mountains. A long hike in along Livermore Trail brought us to the 1.2 mile climb, listed in one guide as a “Class 2 Friction Climb”. Before anyone gets too excited, know that the danger was minimal. Wikipedia defines that class as

“Class 2 - Simple scrambling, with the possibility of occasional use of the hands. Little potential danger is encountered. Hiking Boots highly recommended.”

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However, for those with mild cases of acrophobia (look it up, kids), it felt like climbing the side of a skyscraper. In the end, everyone was successful, an accomplishment to be proud of. The trail brought us to North Tripyramid, the 32nd highest 4,000 footer in the state. A short mile of hiking brought us to Middle Tripyramid, the 35th highest. Another easy mile brought us to the down climb, not quite as steep but still an impressive trail. A few miles and a good mountain stream “ice bath” later, and the whole team was enjoying pizza while creating goals for the upcoming season.

In the end, it was a fantastic trip as usual, with superb students and chaperones. We coaches are lucky to have such a great bunch of athletes to work with - thanks for being awesome!