And the cross country season extends itself one more week! David and Matt (DRen & MRen) competed at the Meet of Champions on a beautiful day, on a super fast course, and proved they know how to prepare for big meets. DRen followed the pre-race strategy to a “T”, staying buried in the lead pack for most of the race before giving it a go for second with 800m to go, eventually finishing 4th overall, while MRen got a great start, fell back slightly, then made up a lot of ground over the final mile to place 41st. Matt’s time of 16:35 is a PR of 43 seconds, and that PR only came last week. DRen’s time of 15:41 is also a PR of 43 seconds (what are the chances?!), and a whopping 1:03 faster than his 4th place effort at the DII meet last week. In fact, DRen now has both the highest boys finish at MOC’s in MV’s history and the fastest 5k ever run by ahigh school MV athlete. Unmentioned coming into the race, it was certainly satisfying seeing him place in the top 4, and finish as the top DII runner. Now it’s off to Belfast Maine for the New England Championship!
Nearly two thousand middle schoolers took to the trails of New Hampshire this weekend for the Middle School State XC Championships. Division I and II were held in Londonderry while Division III was held at Coe-Brown Academy in Northwood.
Merrimack Valley Middle School represented the future of MVXC at the DII championships, and the future looks good. Highlighting the racing in Londonderry was Samantha’s 5th place finish, the best MV finish since 2007! Sophia placed 24th, putting two 7th graders in the top 25. Violet (72th) and Anna (86th) also raced well for MV, which did not score as a team due to only having four finishers. On the boys side, Mark was the top finisher, placing 67th of the 115 finishers. Isaac (99th), Marshall (105th), Mark A (112th), and Ryan (113th) also placed for MV, who finished 17th as a team.
In DIII, Sophia (SRen) easily improved on her runner-up finish of a year ago to WIN (!) the race, becoming the first Andover or MV runner to win an individual title at the middle school level. She lead from the gun and while her time was a little off her course record of a few weeks ago due to the heat, the outcome was never in question. She was followed by Trinity in 102nd, Page (188th), and Marley (194th). In a side note, Coach Irving’s home district of Newfound not only had a complete team (rare), but garnered a surprise second place on the day as a team. Must have been my hat, or the fact that some strange guy was cheering for them in the woods and they wanted to run away as quickly as possible. On the boys side, Jack led the way for Andover in 120th place, followed by Dante (127th), mRen (not to be confused with MRen) in 129th, Evan (141st), Enrico (177th), and Henry (179th) - all 5th or 6th graders except Jack. Andover placed 28th as a team.
What a day! Super weather, fast times, tasty free food, what more could you want? After days of leaf-blowing, staking, ribbon setting, packet stuffing (thanks Noelle!), arrow making, spray painting, and whatever else, the 41st Annual Capital Area XC Championships went off without a hitch. Great job MV! Thank you to all the volunteers, all ten in the finish line chute, our two official photographers (Karen Thurber is responsible for the almost-200 pictures on our website (smugmug), while Brian Reynolds is responsible for the 774 pictures or more on the NHXC website. That’s a lot of data!), and all the cheering fan support. A MASSIVE thank you to Sandi Lyle in particular for heading up the food bonanza - lesson learned for me to stake out a line before hand, silly me to think that kids would self-form a line for free food - and the wonderful t-shirts. There are many shirts still available, if you missed out just let me know!
With perfect spectator weather and almost perfect running weather, the combined JV race got things going at 3:30 to the sound of Mason’s trumpet blaring the cavalry charge (you should’ve heard his rendition of ROCKY out at the hill later). The largest race of the day with 151 racers, we were well-represented with 9 finishers. Leading the MV contingent across the line was Run Forrest Run, followed closely by MV’s very own R. Kelly (who is actually a senior. He now has the discus tree name after him. I swear I’m going to buy a little metal plaque and attach it to the trunk). Next up was Andrew in a blazing fast time, with David Q not far behind. Now David was leading the JV crew for a while...but being such a nice fellow he wanted to give the younger/newer kids a taste of glory. What a guy! Next across for MV, and finishing as the 9th (!) girl overall...KELLEN! She likely ate the equivalent of an iron skillet today, seems to have worked! Next across - Mitchell, in a sub-26 performance. “Dondra” followed Mitchell in her last home meet ever, sniff, sniff...Diandra is a rare 7-year veteran of the MVXC program and will be missed - 7 years is a long time! Thanks for all the miles! Lucas finished in a solid sub-30 time, likely because we hid the free food until after his race. Little known probable fact is that Lucas may own the team record for Pixie Sticks eaten in a season. Hey, sugar is energy! Wrapping up the running for the Pride was Ashley, who saved her best for the last race of the year. Now just keep running, all of you, all year! In a curious and surprising twist, the combined JV team (three boys and two girls) finished second, the best team finish of the day! Who knew?!
The boys varsity next toed the line, up against some fast competition. In fact, of 2016’s top 10 finishers, only the winner graduated. Fast times were in store! Sure enough, DRen and company (Concord and Tilton boys) blitzed the mile just under 5:00...that is quick! By the end of the race the quick pace ran a little bit out of David, but it was a solid honest effort and race, and he is now the 4th fastest runner to run the current course, established in 2012. There are some very successful collegiate runners lower on the list than DRen now. Also, we finally have an MV representative on the top 10 list! Next across was MRen, with a medal-earning 10th place finish. Matt L. earned the only blue ribbon of the day, with a 23rd place finish. He improved his time and kept his name in the MV top-ten list (as did MRen, by the way). The weekly battle for team 4th went to F.B. Ethan, who apparently lightens his load before most races now. Not sure if there were donuts involved. Whatever the case, it resulted in a PR! Not far back and also under 20 again was trumpeter extraordinaire Mason, followed by a very excited Christian. It is a big deal to break 20, and it is nice to see someone who appreciates that! He got it with the kick of the day. We almost got 7 under 20, as Connor was just over the mark, but in a big season PR. One more opportunity, Connor! The boys ran fantastic as a team, almost beating St. Paul’s for third but settling for fourth with the third-best team time on the Ravine Course (since 2012). The only faster team qualified for New Englands.
The girls had the honor of the final race of the day. While it was a DIII battle up front and quite entertaining, MV displayed a bit of depth in contrast to front-running. Flirting for a while with a top-10 finish, Emma eventually crossed in 18th place as the top MV runner, as she has been all season. Edging closer, ever closer, was Trish, who snagged the second ribbon of the day for the girls in 29th place. LoRun moved steadily up the ranks to place third for the team with a very consistently paced race, just missing a ribbon in 33rd. And who is that just behind Lo? Maddie! Holy Moly, a one minute PR, and another crushing ascent of the ravine hill - no one runs hills like Mad-G. Noelle finished off the scoring for the girls, running a brave race to place 42nd overall. 6th for the team was Dubs, (Maizie), looking and probably feeling a whole lot better than last week. And finally, running in her first ever VARSITY race and certainly racing like she belonged in it...MacNeill! Another big PR, 24 seconds this time! And smiling all the way, of course! As a team the girls place 5th, a mere two points ahead of John Stark and one point ahead of Bow. See girls, every runner matters! If the John Stark girl just behind Madisyn had been ahead of her, we would have placed 7th. But we do strides every day so that didn’t happen!
Interesting new poll on the New Hampshire XC website this week about the 5 hardest courses in NH. What was truly interesting about it is the fact that we (MV) routinely run on 4 of the 5, with the 5th being Hollis, which we used to race at before we changed our “normal” schedule (Derryfield is in the lead of the poll, although some are hindered in the voting by not being run on as much, like Great Glen). Friday brought us to one of those 5 toughest courses, Plymouth, at the John Sanborn Plymouth Invitational. A beautiful course, winding for part of its length along the Baker river, it finishes by rising for almost a mile up the “Easy Button” hill. Comprised mostly of local teams with Oyster River randomly thrown in, it is a nice mellow meet before the championship season begins.
In a switcheroo, the boys run first here (as they do next week). With no JV race, all boys lined up with 8 other teams. With Oyster River only bringing their JV teams, DRen was the favorite going into the race, up against a couple strong Kingswood runners. Down by the river at the mile, all three were together with DRen looking relaxed and in control. Sure enough, by the time they came out onto the field ¾ of a mile later he had established control of the race and would go on to cruise to victory by 15 seconds in 17:15. Running in loose-fitting trainers (apparently the hills were not enough of a challenge for him), MRen came across the line in 5th place, followed only 15 seconds later by Matt L in 7th. Three in the top 7! That is a good start to any race. Ethan was next, in at 31st overall, with his second sub-20 effort of the season. The big question was who our 5th runner would be as one of our top five was not in attendance. That question was answered at the 20:20 point of the race, as Christian crossed in a huge PR, followed not long after by Connor. When the dust had settled, the boys had earned their first team award since at least 2013, taking third out of the nine teams, only 20 points behind Kennett. DRen’s win also meant that MV continues it’s 4 year streak of an individual champion at Plymouth, continuing Kristie’s 3-year reign at the top.
On to the girls race, where lots of drama ensued over the hilly 5k. Emma had a great start, running with the leaders through the first mile. Noelle was right behind her in 6th, with Tristan, Lauren, and Madisyn coming through around 20-23rd place. By the halfway point, time and distance had started to take its toll on some, to both MV’s advantage and disadvantage. Emma had slipped to third and Noelle to 8th, while Tristan had climbed all the way to 12th, Lauren to 14th, and Madisyn to 18th. By the finish a mile and half later, Emma finished a decent 7th, while Tristan shocked the world with her best race of the season, passing runners left and right to finish 10th. That’s the way to run a race! Just behind her and also running her best race of 2017, and also moving steadily up throughout, was Lauren in 12th place, equaling her finish spot of 2016. In her first race back in a couple weeks Noelle ran to a solid 26th, while the hills (not the uphills, but the downhills!?!) affected Madisyn a bit, who almost PR’d anyway and finished 27th as MV’s 5th runner. Overall, the girls put forth their best effort of the season, and one-upped the boys, placing 2nd (which, surprisingly, is one place better than last year). Not too often have both teams placed in the top three of an invitational! You’d probably have to go all the way back to 2011 to find the last time that happened.
A short week ahead to the start of the championship season, with Capital Area on Thursday, then the State DII Meet on the following Saturday. No better time to be running our best!
Teams places and scores are at the bottom of the post
Fast times on the MV Middle School course today! Massive crowds of spectators showed up to cheer on the massive throngs of middle school racers (Bow - 106 or so runners?!?!). Lucky for us, Maizie was on hand to keep all over-enthusiastic spectators BEHIND THE CONES and kept all finishing runners IN ORDER (STAY IN ORDER!!). I think that she is the new head finish line judge, forever and for all time. It seems to be a great way to channel the aggression.
Despite only running 4 girls (there was a 5th on the line, until nerves interfered), MV put up a great showing. With 101 runners finishing, Samantha crossed in 8th place, while Sophia, in her return to racing from a month’s hiatus, finished a solid 20th. Violet was just a bit behind in 30th place, while Anna crossed in 68th position. Another race, another victory and course record for Andover’s Sophia. She led from the horn, only slowing down to keep from running over the lead cart just past the mile and to keep from running over an Andover teammate (Woops! Don’t worry kiddo, that happens to everyone at least once). I’ve only got last names here, but Trinity was the next to cross in 34th place, followed by Delaney (66th), Paige (76th), and Violet in 83rd place. Despite the fact that an inordinate amount of Andover runners disappear into the dark shadows of Proctor, for fun I combined the two teams and found that they scored 74 points, just out of second place.
Cue the boys race. 116 competitors! The race course narrows significantly about ¼ mile in, and while everyone seemed to negotiate it successfully, those who got a fast start greatly benefited. By the end, it was clear who was going to take the team battle as 8 of the top 9 were from Hillside. A Bow runner succeeded in preventing a perfect score, ,finishing in 4th place. For MV, Mark was the top runner, placing a very solid 21st. Jack from Andover took first for his team, placing 31st, followed by three more Andover runners;Evan in 38th, Jason in 43rd, and MRen #2 (Mychal) in 44th. Spacebear Linscott was MV’s #2 runner in 48th place, while Dante rounded out the scoring for Andover in 54th (that’s all 5 in the top half!). Marshall, Mark A, and Bryce finished the scoring for MV in 74th, 87th, and 89th, respectively. Ryan finished things off for MV coming in an even 100th.
Next up for the middle schoolers is the State Meet, with DIII Andover at Coe-Brown and DII MV at Londonderry. We could see the first ever Andover/MV individual state champ! Good luck to all!
1 - Hillside 1-2-3-5-6 17
2 - Bow 4-9-11-14-18 56
3 - Hopkinton 10-12-15-17-45 99
4 - Derryfield 13-21-23-28-30 115
5 - Andover 22-24-26-27-33 132
6 - Merrimack Valley 16-29-38-39-41 163
7 - Henniker 25-36-37-40-42 180
1 - Hillside 2-3-5-8-9 27
2 - Bow 7-13-14-17-18-(19) 69
3 - Hopkinton 4-10-11-20-24-(26) 69
4 - Derryfield 6-21-29-31-32 119
5 - Henniker 16-23-28-30-34 131
6 - Andover 1-25-35-38-39 138
7 - Merrimack Valley 8-17-23-36---- NS
*Note* - Boys corrected winning time is 11:55
Girls winning time of 12:02 is an “All Courses” course record (old record 12:13)
Saturday brought us to Thetford, home of Morty the Monster and the Five-Legged Cow (although the course makes many runners feel like a 3-legged cow instead). Not an easy course, two crazies managed to PR anyhow - more on them later. An early morning of sunshine and fall foliage gave way to a grey drizzle, good for racing but not good for drying out the canopy and tarp, wet since Black Bear.
Just like last week, the first of the races was a Middle School invite. And just like last week, Sophia of Andover and DRen/MRen fame crushed the field and won easily. That makes three big Invite wins in three weeks - the only races Sophia has not won this year are the ones she hasn’t been to (because, duh, that would be impossible). Also representing Andover and finishing in the top half was Trinity, only a 6th-grader yet defeating almost 100 runners! Following up the girls, 7th-grader Jack placed an even 100th (of 194) in the middle school boys race.
Thetford has a unique set-up, with 5 races based on submitted times. With no JV race, all times are then combined into one giant list at the end. In each race, the top 15 are given ribbons, so the goal of each year is maximum ribbons. Morty was a bit rough on the girls team this year, who perhaps are saving their best for later. No ribbons, but some good solid racing. Madisyn returned from a week of farming in Wisconsin, home of orange cheese (yuck! And she doesn’t even like cheese? What’s the point of Wisconsin, then?) to run an all-time PR. That is not supposed to happen at Thetford, easily the hardest and slowest course we run (not counting the bizarre 3.5 mile Great Glen course). Ashley was another highlight, running a season-best time (she did that last year here, too). MacNeill went sub-30 again, so-long 30+, she is so done with you. Once again Emma led the team overall, although Morty was not very kind. Madisyn was next, while Lauren, Tristan, and Diandra rounded out the top five.
On the boys side of things, times were decent if not spectacular, until Forrest decided to light the afterburners and rocket the second half of the course to finish as MV’s 6th overall boy in a new all-time PR. He had to make up for last week since he missed Black Bear where everyone else PR’d. You chose a heck of course to PR on, Forrest! Things were looking bleak in the boys second seed race - no ribbons yet for MV, boy or girl, and while Matt L was running a decent race, he was well out of contention for a ribbon (about 25th at the mile). Back at the start/finish area, the girls #1 seed race was getting ready to take off when who bursts out of the woods in 11th place? MATT!! Outkicking a runner in the chute, Matt scored the first ribbon of the day with a great 10th place finish. He must have found the elevator out there. In the final race of the day, MRen and DRen each ran very well-executed races. DRen finished a strong 7th (2nd ribbon of the day!) and top NH boy, while MRen took home 30th place. Just so you know, Matt, I had thought you would get into the 2nd seed race, and your time would have won that. So you won a mental ribbon. Behind DRen, MRen, and Matt, Ethan was able to outrun Mason over the last mile to place as MV’s 4th to Mason’s 5th.
Great job today everybody, except for Mr. Bones, who I expect to see more cheering out of next race.
What a day! Out of the 19 MV runners, 13 ran all-time PR’s (11 of 12 boys!), and 3 of the remaining 6 ran season-bests. Talk about perfect conditions… The runners have probably heard my grumbling about the Black Bear Invite, how we just never seem to run well there, and certainly proved me wrong today. Mid-season meets don’t get much more positive than today!
The day started off on a high note for the future of MVXC, with SRen (that would be Sophia, 8th-grader from Andover, sister of DRen and MRen) winning the middle school portion in a course record time. The course record, by the way, is 5 seconds faster than Caroline Fischer’s older course record (she placed third at the New England Championships as a 9th-grader last year), and 1 second faster than the not-current-anymore course record of Coe-Brown’s Addie Cox, 3rd place finisher in the high school race today. There are big things on the horizon for Sophia! Andover had one other girl finisher, 6th grader Trinity, who finished a very respectable 66th. On the boys side of things, Andover ran three boys. 7th-grader Jack, 46th, was the top finisher. Just behind Jack were two 5th (!) graders, mRen (aka Mychal, not to be confused with MRen) in 51st and Evan in 52nd. Great job boys, and don’t go to Proctor, please!
Lining up alone for the second straight week in the JV girls race was MacNeill. Her race would set the tone for the day as she cruised to a PR of almost a minute, coming less than a second from breaking 29. Following up MacNeill was the boys JV, represented by Jacob, Ryan, Andrew, Mitchell, and Lucas. Knowledgeable spectators could tell early on that it was going to be a special day, as there were far more runners behind each MV runner than usual. In the end, ALL 5 (!) ran PR’s, led by Jacob’s sub-21 effort which would hold up to be the 6th best team-time of the day. Mickey must have dispensed great advice down in the Magic Kingdom (we know what you were really doing in Florida, Jake!).
Despite only finishing without their #’s 2 and 3 from a week ago, the girls still managed to run to their second-best team time of the year. With their new jackets adding an intimidation factor, 4 of the 6 finishers ran their season-PR’s. Emma continued leading the team as she has all year with a big PR, and her first run under 21. Do that at Manchester and you get on the top-ten list! We used to tease Emma about her “Sunday long zero runs”, now that she’s actually doing them...see? Sometimes the coaches are right! And congrats are in order to her parents (and any parent who does this) to getting out there with her! Tristan, prepping for Thetford next week, ran her season PR by over a minute to cross as MV’s #2. Lauren crossed as #3 (a 4-second season PR), while Kaitlyn, in her first REAL race (I’m not counting John Stark, Kell) since Great Glen, filled in some gaps by running a big season PR to finish as #4. Maizie rounded out the scoring for the girls, while Diandra added the insurance - both with solid runs. Overall the girls place 19th of 23, not bad considering two top-five mainstays did not cross the finish line.
In the final race of the day, the pressure was on to match the success of the earlier races. And in the end they not only matched, but exceeded the PR expectations. After battling bravely at the front with two others for the entire 5k, DRen came onto the track in third and fought to finish as runner-up in a new PR. I believe that is the best boys finish in MV’s history at Black Bear. Holding down second for the team but saving his best for another day (he doesn’t want to distract from everyone else’s shining moment) was MRen, with a solid sub-18 effort. Just behind, and with a huge breakthrough race (first sub-18!) was Matt L. (wish this kid listened to me in 7th grade and started running a wee bit earlier!). Then the wait was on to see if anyone else could sneak under 20 minutes. One minute to go...Mason and Ethan come on to the track! Breaking 20 is a big, big deal, and both crushed it today. 5 runners under 20, how awesome is that? Good thing Ethan got rid of those donuts at the start line (of course, he had eaten them about an hour and half earlier…). David Q. and Christian had breakthroughs of their own, each going under 21 for the first time. When the dust had settled, MV had placed 7th of 24 teams, a truly awesome finish!
It was a HOT, HUMID day at the great Manchester Invitational, one of our two largest meets of the year. MV was very cool under our super-awesome tent though, easily the best tent at the meet. Also, thanks to some super parents, we had far and away the most and best food. If anyone spent any money on anything besides Lucas’s cupcakes, they didn’t need to. Lucas, by the way, squandered that money on a slushy. Maybe the only food purchased from the meet?
An open race started the day, a new event for Manchester. Noelle’s mom April and MRen and DRen’s sister, Mini-Manch. Champion Sophia, represented MV quite well, placing only 7 spots apart. Coaches Sandu and Irving couldn’t race “because of the early start”, but word on the trail has it that next year there will be a coaches race at the end. A new excuse will be forthcoming. Next up were the freshmen races, with no representation from MV. Why? Manchester is the site of the State Divisional Meet and a great opportunity to preview and race the course. Also, the “Frosh” race is only 2.1 miles long. So the first race with MV representation was the girls JV C race, with MacNeill. With a super lonely starting position, MacNeill surged to the lead (!) briefly going up the hill before settling in for the duration. With the good start, MacNeill ran her second-best time of the year! In the Boys JV C race, Lucas and Mitchell represented the Pride. Lucas surprised everyone by coming out of the hills ahead of Mitchell, it was only later that we found out the reason - cupcakes. The quicker you finish, the quicker you get cupcakes. Both boys took advantage of the still cool-ish weather to run great races.
In the largest race of the day, David, Andrew, and Ryan raced 350 other boys to very solid finishes. David especially, with his trademark roar, ran himself on to next Saturday’s varsity team with the 6th-fastest MV time of the day. Following a break for the Small School races, the MV girls, sporting Manch-traditional french braids, took to the line. By now the heat and humidity had reached a peak, and PR’s were pretty much out the window. It seems like we have a cooler-weather team, which is fine, since the end of October is when it matters for real. Despite the heat, Emma got out to a courageous start, and went on to lead the girls as she has in every other race this season, besting her 2016 finish by 25 places. Highlighting the day, however, was Madisyn, getting out to a more aggressive start and eventually finishing the the #2 girl on the day, with a PR time. Who runs a PR at Manchester in the heat?!? Only crazy people. A sign of greatness to come! Noelle, Lauren, and Tristan finished in that order, surviving the heat to race another day, while Diandra nearly nipped Maizie at the line with solid times, despite the heat.
The last race of the day, and the most anticipated, with 18 state-ranked schools from around New England. David got out to a great start, perhaps too great as the heat and pace caught up with him a bit by the end. Despite some discouragement, he still finished as the #3 fastest DII boy of the day in 18th overall. MRen was next, representing DRen well on the official video (they mistook Matt for Dave) with a great kick. Matt L had a solid race as well, perhaps suffering some of the same fate as Dave, but still getting under 19 on a HOT day. Mason and Ethan cruised in just over 20 (again), Ethan in big ole’ clonker shoes since the spikes wouldn’t come out of his flats. Christian and Connor rounded out the top 7 for MV.
A huge thanks again for all the fan support, the food, and the nearly 400 pictures uploaded. Check them out!
It feels like Hurricane Jose has been circling around in the Atlantic forever! Today it threatened our meet, but decided it would stay far enough away so we could have a nice dry meet. Thanks Jose! Second home meet for the girls, and the first for the boys, and very successful on both fronts, as the girls took home 3rd of 7 and the boys placed 2nd, only missing the win by 8 points. MV defended the home course with individual wins for both teams as well.
After running a very smart, patient race, Emma pulled away over the last mile to win her first high school XC race. Or, as we describe wins now to keep DRen from building his ego up too much, she placed “not last”. Not only did she win, she ran her best t(by 2 seconds) on the home course, solidifying her 5th All-Time Ravine Course spot. Behind her, Not-As-Lo-I-Run continued her comeback tour, placing as MV’s #2 for the first time since meet #1, and ran her best time of 2017. Just a bit back was Noelle, trading places with Lo over the final half mile. Rounding out the scoring 5 was Tristan with a solid race, and Madisyn with another huge PR. Now if she would just start faster! Sky’s the limit!
In the boys race a Trinity runner served as the first ½ mile rabbit. The MV pack of DRen, MRen, and Matt L (needs a nickname) reeled him in over time to lead a decent size pack around the course. Much to Kellen’s chagrin, DRen could be heard talking as he came down into the Ravine…”get serious, DRen, it’s a race!” Little did she or everyone else know that DRen hadn’t actually started racing yet, because when the knees finally started lifting with a half mile to go it was lights out for everyone else as he cruised to his 4th “not last” placing in the last 4 meets. Good thing his time was a bit pokey (just tempo-ing), because it would have been a running-up-the-points kind of win if he was flat out. MRen and Matt L each finished in the top 7, while Mason again held down the 4th spot, but only barely as Flat Brim Ethan almost caught him and the 20-minute barrier at the end. Whoo boy, this is getting exciting! If you’re wondering where our normal 5th place boy was, by the way, let’s just say that due to the non-padded nature of bathroom floors they are not the best place to perform aerial gymnastics. Or so the rumor says.
PS - MV's Top Ten Ravine Course list welcomes Matt L. into 9th place. Congratulations!
“Out Of The Shadows”
With an hour extra to sleep in, the day started off smoothly with everyone showing up on time, even the coaches! Another day of racing, and another humid day awaited at the Bobcat Invitational. Having the benefit of racing the course earlier in the season, the team was able to relax, study the hay bale hurdle, and be embarrassed by coach Irving’s rapping. Our second Invite of the year, the Bobcat Invite immediately enshrined itself in race lore with the hay bale hurdle and actual muskets to start the races. The midrace “front flip” in the JV race is the stuff of legend. Lucky for MV, Coach Sandu was one of the best steeplechasers in the country and was able to impart wisdom to the runners, and everyone made it over without any major calamities.
In a gender-reversed race, the JV boys led things off with (gasp) a full scoring team! Most of the runners ran season or all-time PR’s, and once again David Q. won the finish line roaring contest (although race photos show that it actually probably scared the runner next to him into going even faster!). The strategy may need to be tweaked a bit. The boys placed 12th of 15, not too shabby!
The girls JV race was a bit understaffed, with only 2 girls participating for MV. They persevered nevertheless, each running solid, if not PR, times.
The boys varsity race is where the magic happened. Despite almost winning on the same course two weeks previous and winning the Great Glen Invite a week earlier, David R (DRen) was not even mentioned in the race preview as a favorite. Unsurprisingly to those on his team, DRen went right to the lead pack, bided his time, and gapped the field over the last mile to establish a new course record (his second) and win by 15 seconds “going away”, as they say. To add to that, the two runners behind him are not normal DII runners - one is a transfer and new to NH this year, and the other is a Tilton School athlete (they look eerily similar too, check out the race photos). The next returning DII runner was 30 seconds back. That’s a win. As a poster on Newhampshirecrosscountry.com wrote, “Welcome MV’s David Reynolds out of the shadows”. Overshadowed by his brothers fantastic post-race interview was Matt R (MRen) and his hurdle form. No joke, in many people’s opinion MRen had the best hurdle form in the race. Could he be the next great MV steepler?!? Also, and more importantly, race video allows you to see your progression, forward or backward, throughout the race. With about ¾ of a mile to go, MRen was holding steady in 16th place. By the time he crossed the finish he had shot up to 10th place, showing no mercy even to the racer crawling towards the line. Stone Cold MRen, aka “I don’t even talk to you”. Matt L was again MV’s third, inching ever closer to the elusive 18:00 barrier. Speaking of barrier’s, Mason PR’d by over a minute and is now within striking distance of 20:00. 5 under 20, that’s the goal! The battle for the fifth and final scoring position was tight, undecided until “flat brim” Ethan tore away on the final straightaway to eke out a personal victory over Connor, both of whom were under 21:00. Christian returned from illness to run a brave race, and holy moly, that kick! Kick of the Day goes to Ethan. Overall the boys placed a surprising 6th of 19 teams, the best finish by an MV boys team since 2012.
The sun stayed hidden just long enough to get in the final race of the day, the girls varsity. Despite still being hammered with illness and injury, most of the normal varsity raced, with Kaitlyn resting but taking some magnificent photos (check out her low angle hay bale shots!). Emma and Noelle again led the way for the girls, with Lauren making a comeback to place third on the team. Lo, the secret weapon! Maizie, despite not yet being at 100%, ran a spectacular race to run (I think) her all-time PR. Not too far behind was Madisyn, who is still figuring out this whole 5k thing. A bit of a more aggressive start for her, and look out! The girls finished a decent 12th of 17, but more importantly started to look like they may be on the mend. Keeping a low profile in September is the way to do it, it is the end of October that matters!
The second Tuesday duel meet of the season means one thing...John Stark, the home of the Sidehill Wampus! Not an easy course to run, lots of side hills (hence the wampus), and usually hot weather. We approach it as a training and learning opportunity, and try to have as much fun as one can racing 5k’s over lumpy terrain.
The girls race was a little depleted for MV, as several girls rested tired bodies for future races. Emma and Noelle stuck to the pre-race plan and ran together, steadily moving up through the field to eventually finish in 5th and 6th place. Maizie returned from her brief race absence to run probably the race of the day, finishing 3rd for MV and only a minute behind the top two. Madisyn cruised in for a solid 4th for MV, while Diandra ran to her best team finish ever in her long tenure with the program, scoring the all-important 5th spot. Also running for the girls was Kaitlyn, bravely toughing out three miles that most others would not have attempted, and MacNeill, racing to get back to her book. The girls placed second overall out of the 5 teams entered, not a bad showing!
The boys, slightly healthier overall than the girls, ran almost a full contingent of runners. Matt, Matt, and David also tried to pack run for the first couple of miles, although Matt R. got a little anxious and ended up running about 10 feet ahead for the first two miles. After reeling in three over-anxious Trinity runners and a couple other random kids, David took the lead for good and won easily, his second win in a row. Matt R. finished third, while Matt L. finished a solid 7th overall. For the final two MV spots it was a battle between a rookie 9th-grader (Ethan) and a seasoned senior (Mason). Coming onto the track Mason held a slight advantage, only to be passed on the track by Ethan. Not to be outdone, Mason demonstrated patience and unleashed a David Quinn-esque kick to take 4th for MV, with Ethan 1 tick back, 18th and 19th overall. Don’t look now, but that gap between 3rd and 4th/5th is starting to close!
Many thanks to Lauren for taking most of today’s pictures, and to Emma for loaning the high quality phone and uploading them!
Always make sure your “early morning” alarm is actually set for the AM, and not the PM! That was the lesson Coach Irving learned (again) early Saturday morning. On a good note for everyone else, no one else had to feel any guilt for being late - nice job being on time team! After an uneventful trip up through the notch and a brief hunt for the new starting location of the race, we arrived for yet another beautiful day at the Great Glen trails at Mt. Washington. With five races on tap for the day, good weather is always a great bonus!
Diandra, MacNeill, and Ashley got things going in the girls JV race. Highlighting the race was Diandra’s strong run, although upon crossing the line the time sparked some confusion. How could she looks so good and run so...apparently slow? Soon enough our suspicions were shown to be well-founded as the course was GPS measured by two coaches and found to be 3.48 miles long, or almost 3 minutes longer than a 5k, depending on your pace. Great Glen had become Greater Glen! After converting the times, it turns out Diandra had run a season PR by 2 minutes, good for 6th on the day for MV. Another highlight was MacNeill’s aggressive finish - head to head with a girl from Plymouth. Despite the fact that the Plymouth girl finished apparently ahead of her, MacNeill’s name was written first on the results sheet. Nice kick! The beauty of cross country made itself apparent at that moment, as the two girls fought tooth and elbow to be the first across the finish line, but they had no sooner crossed than they both laughed and embraced. Instant best friends - just add 3.48 miles of hilly racing!
Ethan, Lucas, Andrew, and Mitchell represented MV in the boys JV race. In one of the surprises of the day, Ethan battled to 10th place and a t-shirt award. Not only that, Ethan ran the 4th fastest time of day for MV. A second highlight was Lucas running a converted 29:28, his second fastest time ever! That’s a great start to the year for both!
Next up was the girls varsity, with Emma, Noelle, Lauren, Tristan, Kaitlyn, and Madisyn representing the team. Emma continued leading the team with a very strong race, earning a top ten finish and a t-shirt in the process. Maybe she was inspired by the presence of the Grandparents York? I suppose they’ll need to keep coming - some girls have lucky socks, Emma has lucky grandparents! Although as we all know, luck has nothing to do with success in distance running, right team (I sure hope you all ran on Sunday!)? Despite stopping to admire the beauty of Mt. Washington at one point in the race, Noelle also turned in her best time of the year so far, with Lauren not too far behind. Madisyn continued discovering that her limits are still to be reached as she ran a PR (converted) and finished as MV’s 4th girl. Overall, the girls placed 6th (we think, as the race directors “only scored the teams that looked like they had a chance”. Thanks for the inspiration!).
The boys varsity was the 4th of 5 races on the day. Matt X 2 and David wasted no time getting to the front of the pack, throwing it down with racers from all three divisions, including perennial NH favorites Pinkerton (although not this year). By the second mile David was free and clear of everyone except a runner from Nashua North (who was 18th at MOC’s last year, by the way), although he was clearly just biding his time. Sure enough, David pulled away in the last ¾ mile to win by over 20 seconds and establish the course record for Greater Glen. Not to be outdone in the strong finishing category, Matt R. outkicked a Kingswood runner to snag 7th and the fourth “Top Ten” t-shirt for MV. Despite running out of some of his fuel over the last mile, Matt L. ran a huge PR (again, converted) to finish just outside of the top 20. Connor and Mason rounded out the scoring for MV, while David Q. provided spectators with superb entertainment with his roaring finish.
Closing out the races was the Open Race, featuring defending champ Coach Sandu, Coach Irving, Kaitlyn’s dad, and Noelle’s mom (good turnout!). Coach Sandu easily defended his title but did NOT win a shirt. Is that even fair? Coach Irving successfully reeled in the runner ahead of him, yet apparently forgot about the last ½ mile and couldn’t finish the job, finishing in 6th. The parent’s ran great as well, although details are unfortunately not available at this time.
A final highlight was provided by the boys chorus, a new addition to the team. They serenaded the patrons at Friendly’s as well as the bus driver. Despite initial rejection from the girls team (“they actually think they’re good!”), the talented musicians eventually won over the girls and even agreed to the request of “Sweet Caroline”. This ended poorly for the girls, however, as their screeching of the chorus resulted in a swift braking of the bus and a stern reprimand from the driver (although not the usual “don’t make me turn this bus around” or “do you need to get out and walk?” that normally results from a swift-braking driver).
I’m being told I have other chores to do today...conversions and results will be added soon!
CONVERSIONS - 3.48 miles to 5k
D. Reynolds - 16:28 E. York - 21:41
M. Reynolds - 17:25 N. Colarusso - 23:40
M. Lyle - 18:14 L. Rouse - 24:20
E. Dodenhoff - 20:38 M. Garrity - 25:48
C. Butt - 20:39 T. Beyer - 26:15
Ma. Graham - 20:58 D. Perron - 27:08
D. Quinn - 21:38 K. Covell - 27:59
J. Barrington - 22:47 M. Matthews - 30:51
A. Owens - 25:14 A. Lacourse - 44:26
L. Hartshorn - 29:28
Mi. Graham - 30:05
Girls results are attached, minus the scores. MV won with 30 points, Lebanon 2nd with 43, and Plymouth 3rd with 53.
We crossed our fingers, we knocked on wood...but the Old Man snored. The boys will forever remember this race as The Race That Wasn’t. Or, if you’re Mitchell, your first victory. Word on the field is that he technically won the race, as he was the first to cross the finish line. A course record to boot (even if it is the only time that course will ever be run), which is something not everyone can claim! The girls, on the other hand, were either lucky or unlucky to be able to get their race in, which can also have an alternate name having to do with humidity. At times it probably felt more like a 5k swim through a hot tub. Yet they prevailed, and evened their win/loss duel meet record (not that we keep records) with a double win.
In the race that was, Emma was again our top finisher, fighting for the lead over the first ½ of the course before coming in second. Noelle was again number two, but in a twist, Kaitlyn moved all the way up to finish as our third runner and 6th overall. Go Kellen! Maizie, never a heat and humidity runner, persevered for her second straight great race to place 7th (!) overall, while Lauren toughed one out for the team to take the all-important 5th team spot and close out the scoring with 5 in the top ten. Worth a mention was the 11th-placer, Madisyn, who steadily moved up from about 25th in the first mile to the aforementioned 11th. A huge amount of her forward motion was due to her attack of the hill - crazy! Just ask Tristan, who was resting a sore leg and had to leap out of the way to avoid being steamrolled by freight train Garrity. It must of been the smiley faces I painted on the hill - a Lebanon girl actually thanked me (as she was ascending) for drawing them. How’d she know it was me??
Thank you to the mystery photographer for uploading some photos - I was going to only have a photo of Andrew’s forgotten t-shirt, which I’ll probably add anyway because it’s a good shirt.
The first meet of 2017 saw us at a brand new course - the first race ever held on it in fact. Site of the upcoming Bobcat Invitational, the course was a true cross country course with woods, fields, roots, and rocks. Not a fast course by any means, but an honest one to be sure. Beautiful cool weather to boot; all in all a fantastic day of cross country.
Up against two of the top teams in the division, the girls were looking to just run a solid workout race and gain some experience. Emma led the way for MV and, despite some difficulty dealing with the “sidehill wampus”, more than held her own. A hard charging Lo-(I)-Run finished second for MV, while Noelle cruised across third. Fourth on the team went to...TRISTAN!!, with a very good start to the year, while rounding out the scoring varsity was Maizie, fresh off her high altitude training. One more highlight was rookie Madisyn, who, while outdone by her first-place goat at the Hopkinton Fair earlier in the day, still is able to hold her head high on the return to the barn with a fantastic first race, particularly in the second half.
Next up were the boys, facing off against the projected top team in the division, Oyster River, and an up-and-coming Portsmouth team. David, and MattMatt led the way for MV, and while MattMatt eventually became Matt Matt, the top three all placed near the top of the race and raced to sub-19 times. David defeated two top-ten returners to place second, only finishing behind a transfer from the midwest by a second or two. Importantly, David broke up what would have otherwise been a perfect score of 15 for Oyster River. Following Matt R. and Matt L. was a significant gap that we need to work on, but at the end of the gap Conner raced in, dependable as always. The race for the 5th and final scoring spot came down to a kick between two XC rookies, Christian and Jake. Despite losing ground to Jake over the final mile, Christian was able to muster a fantastic kick over the final 100 meters to seal the all-important 5th spot. With so many newcomers in the 5th-10th spots, expect that gap to third to drop quickly. That’s the key to our season!
Saturday morning dawned drizzly and cold - but came with a special present in a form of a spectacular sunrise accompanied with a double rainbow. A good omen? Only time would tell. All athletes arrived healthy, with the exception of Taylor, our #4 boy, out with a knee injury. No colds or flus, always one of the biggest worries on State Meet weekend. As we rolled towards Derryfield, athletes slept, listened to music, or ate peanut butter toast (Tristan!) in preparation for the big race. The Divisional meets have a rolling schedule each year, 2016 was DII’s turn to go first over the damp course. MV arrived first, claimed our spot, then proceeded to watch Emma’s hands turn blue from the cold. Trooper that she is, she still managed to oversee the braiding of the hair, although not to the tightness level that we witnessed on Pinketon’s team later! As the boys played the “sneak the card into someone’s jacket” game and the girls braided, the day started to dry out and warm up - just a little, but it was enough.
The girls, set to go off at 10:00, set off on their warm-up. Coach Irving had attended a teacher workshop the previous Tuesday and learned (among other non-retained things) that even fake laughing increases your dopamine levels. So the girls laughed awkwardly all around Manchester. No worries, they looked great in their new jackets! When it finally came time to head to the starting line the team was reminded of all the parents, teammates, alumni, and other friends and family who had chosen to attend the XC meet rather than the rescheduled football game back home. Determined to run their best for all these people, themselves, and to accomplish their shoot-the-moon goal set at camp of qualifying for MOC’s, the gun fired and they were off.The girls ran, and boy, did they run great. Nothing too spectacular, Tristan was the only one with a PR (of 1 second), while Lauren tied hers and Kristie ran her best time at Derryfield, but a very solid run. Now it was time to wait. On the NHCC website they were picked to finish 8th or 9th (disclaimer, Irving wrote that preview, but it was very factual, although of course he knew that MV had a shot if the stars aligned), but only the top 6 qualify for MOC’s. After Kristie picked up her 5th-place medal, the girls huddled for power and...6TH PLACE, MERRIMACK VALLEY!! They absolutely had the loudest scream/cheer of any team announced, even the winner. It’s not every year that training works out so perfectly, but this year nothing could have gone better. Run your best at the end, and that’s what the girls did!
On to 10:40, and the boys start. A little short-handed without Taylor, they none the less took to the line in good spirits. A tenth place finish was the modified shoot the moon goal (at camp it was 15th), but again, everything would have to work out perfectly. When the gun started, the boys got off to a great start, particularly Matt R., running right up alongside and even ahead of his brother around 35th place. As the race progressed, Matt slid up in the standings, then back a little, while David picked off runners all along the course. Despite having a slight off day, David still managed to place 21st and continue his season for one more week. Matt had a super sub-17 run, not enough to qualify for MOC’s, but his best race of the year anyhow. Dylan turned in a 1-second PR as MV’s third runner, while Matt L. ran out of his head to finish as our 4th guy and come close to the 19 minute barrier. He is destined for great things next year! River, Ryan, and Connor all came agonizingly close to going sub-20, but unfortunately the course was just a tad too long. Connor did run yet another huge PR despite heading up the start hill in practically last place. That’s good, patient running! In the end, the boys finished a very respectable 15th place to achieve our pre-season goal. With 4 of the top boys returning next year, plus Taylor, top 10 looks like a good place to start with goals at next year’s campfire! On to MOC’s!
Merrimack Valley Middle School attended the DII State Meet in Londonderry today, while MVHS feeder school Andover ran at the DIII Championships, held at Coe-Brown in Northwood. Both teams had successful outings, highlighted by award winning performances of Sophia Reynolds of Andover and Sophia Rebenciuc of Merrimack Valley.
Sophia of Andover entered the race as one of the top seeds, courtesy of her 2nd place finish in the Small School Championships a year ago. She ran in that position for the entire race (won by Addie Cox of Northfield) until she was caught by two girls with 80 meters to go down the track. Channelling her inner Kristie Schoffield, she unleashed a scorching kick, flying home to runner-up position and melting the track in the process. Given that Addie graduates to high school next year and Sophia is a 7th-grader...who's the favorite going into 2017?!
Over in Londonderry, Coach Rebenciuc's daughter Sophia was having the race of her life. Only a 6th-grader, she blazed the 2-mile course to finish 10th and earn a plaque. Not too far behind her was another 6th-grader, Samantha Kimball, who showed up to race as she placed an amazing 26th. Highlighting the boys race was Ethan Dodenhoff, who finished 33rd out of the over 100 runners entered. A wonderful note about Ethan, last year in his first year running he finished 157th out of 158 runners at the same race. What an amazing and inspirational improvement!
This is the post for MV-specific stats from the 2016 Capital Area meet. If you are looking for the general write-up, go down to the next blog post!
What a heck of day! To give you an idea, 5 of the top 6 MV girls times on the Home Course (since 2012) were set today, while on the boys side 2 new entries were made, including a new school record! The conditions were perfect, the training has been great, things are looking good for next week!
Team statistics: the girls placed second of 12, almost surprising Concord for the win. The boys just missed a top-5 placing with 6th place out of 14. The girls team-time average (20:58) takes over the #1 spot by over a minute, and ranks only second all-time over all variations of MV’s course, behind only the 2009 team that missed winning DII’s by 4 points. The boys also did well, running their fastest team-time of the year (18:42) and putting themselves 5th on the current course list and 8th all-time! For the girls, Kristie set a new course record, while Lauren moves up to second on the Ravine Course (behind Kristie), Noelle takes over third, Emma moves up to fifth, while Tristan moves up to sixth.
On the boys side, David broke 17 for the first time, and in doing so broke Walker’s Ravine Course School Record. Matt ran fast enough to jump onto the list in 8th position. A note on the lists, we had a very strong boys team in 2012, which is why it’s harder to make the boys list than the girls. The stronger girls teams were back around 2008/2009, although this year’s edition is right on their heels.
With sporadic rainfall, cool temperatures, and a light breeze, the conditions for the 40th running of the Capital Area Cross Country Championships were perfect. 16 teams representing all three divisions and two private school leagues gathered to decide who were the top teams and individuals in the Capital region.
The race started off with a combined JV race for the first time in several years, allowing for greater participation and providing the varsity races with a true championship feel. The combined team from Concord placed first, followed by Kearsarge and then Bow. Individually as is often the case, the JV races predicted the stronger varsity teams, with Colin Conery of Concord winning in a time of 17:40, followed closely by his teammate David Cook in 17:42. Kearsarge had the next two finishers, with Grant Croft in 18:20 and Trevor Pauling in 18:23. To round out the top five it was back to Concord with Joseph O’Brien, who crossed the line in 18:40. For the girls, Concord again had the top finisher, Sarah Zarakotas who finished in 21:45. Concord also had the rest of the top five, with Lauren Soper (22:24), Maggie Whitcomb (22:34), Kat Jepson ((22:34), and Heather Deacon (22:38).
In traditional Cap. Area reverse-gender order, the boys were the first varsity race to toe the line. Despite placing second by one point two years in a row to St. Paul’s, Concord was the big favorite due to their number one ranking in NHXC. It was evident from early on in the race that not only was Concord going to win, they were going to win big. James Wilkes and Forest MacKenzie ran side-by-side through the mile, trailed by David Reynolds of Merrimack Valley, with four more Concord runners just behind him. By the second mile Oliver Spencer had about bridged the gap to his front-running teammates and it was 1-2-3-5-6-7 Concord, with Reynolds gamely holding down a top-5 spot. Simon Doneski of Hopkinton, Mason Benedict of Kearsarge, and Ian Daly of Inter-Lakes packed up not far behind. Rounding the soccer field for the final kick home Wilkes and MacKenzie were clear of pursuers and would go on to take the top two positions, 16:35 for Wilkes and 16:36 for MacKenzie, while Spencer rolled in 7 seconds back in third in 16:43. Eli Boesch-Dining and Ryan Devine passed Reynolds to set up a Concord sweep of the top five, only to be denied by Reynolds down the stretch, with Devine grabbing 4th in 16:57, Reynolds 5th in 16:58, and Boesch-Dining 6th in 17:01. Interesting note, the first four finishers for Concord are all different grades, with Wilkes the only senior in the top seven. Matthew O’Brien placed 7th in 17:09 to give Concord 6 in the top 7, while Doneski ran to 8th in 17:11, Daly finished 9th, also in 17:11, and Benedict was the final medal winner, finishing 10th in 17:12.
When all was said and done, Concord had won with 16 points, the lowest point total since the third running of the meet in 1979, when the Crimson Tide scored the only perfect score in the history of boys Capital Area. Of course, there were only 4 teams competing back then which makes this feat even more impressive. Kearsarge backed up its top 10 NH ranking with a solid runner-up score of 78, while St. Paul’s stayed on the podium for the 7th straight year with 112 points. Prospect Mountain turned out to be the best of the rest, finishing 4th with 171, while Belmont finished just behind with 189 points.
As dusk threatened, the boys toward the hill in the woods while the girls took their turn at the start line. Kristie Schoffield of Merrimack Valley took it out from the gun, cruising through the mile with about a two-second lead before turning it up a notch to bring it home in a new course record of 19:25, winning by 27 seconds. While the race up-front was rather static, the race for the next several spots was anything but. Cassie Shea, in a return to form, ran alongside her teammate Jennika Mannesto of Concord for the first mile and a half. Behind them was an ever-changing chain of girls, with Gabrielle Czerula of Concord, Alice Riley of Belmont, and Madison Clark of the Tilton School. As the race developed, Riley and Clark teamed up to pass first Czerula, then Shea to move into the top 4. Mannesto, running alone for the second half of the race finished as the ony other girl to break 20 minutes, running a 19:52. Behind her, the Riley/Clark battle continued right to the line, with each girl bumping elbows for the last 200 meters. In the end, Clark earned 3rd place, matching her 2014 finish, with the same time as Clark in 4th, 20:05. Shea hung on to finish 5th in 20:28, with her teammate Czerula a little behind her in 20:48. Lauren Rouse of MV went from 7th to 12th and back to 7th again, finishing in 21:02, while Molly Bragg (Concord, 21:03), Sydney Stockwell (Hopkinton, 21:16), and Maya Weil-Cooley (Inter-Lakes, 21:18) rounded out the top 10.
Concord, buoyed by Shea’s performance, held off a surprisingly strong challenge from host Merrimack Valley. Concord won it’s 5th straight Capital Area championship with 36 points, while MV took runner-up honors for the second straight year with 51 points. Kearsarge (116) held off DIII rivals Hopkinton (133) and Bow (140) to snag the final podium position.
Thursday, October 20th will see the 40th annual running of the Capital Area Cross Country Championships, held at Merrimack Valley High School in Penacook. Comprised of most of the schools in the Capital Area (informally defined as the Concord Monitor newspaper’s coverage area) the race has long served not only as State Meet prep against stiff competition but for local bragging rights. All 3 NHIAA divisions compete, as well as local private schools St. Paul’s and for the first time this year, Tilton School. The racing begins at 3:30 with a combined JV race, followed at 4:15 by the boys varsity race, with the girls varsity race wrapping things up at 4:45.
The past three years have seen St. Paul’s at the top of the team leaderboard, with the last two decided by a single point over once-a-year in-town rivals, Concord High. The individual top spots have been held by Cam Daly of Inter-Lakes and Dom Repucci of Hopkinton. With St. Paul’s graduating their top two and both Daly and Repucci graduated, change at the top is inevitable. Concord may have graduated their top runner from a year ago, but have more than made up for it with the addition of track star James Wilkes and the continued development of the rest of last year’s top 7. Undefeated in NH this year and ranked #1, look for Concord to avenge those 1 point losses in a big way. Kearsarge’s NH #9 ranked team looks to return to the runner-up spot it last attained in 1985, but to do so it will have to defeat a less-strong but still very deep St. Paul’s squad. Results are hard to come by (that’s what makes it interesting!), but it appears that the entire top 5 of St. Paul’s are a pack, in the mid-17 range, very similar to Kearsarge. After these clear-cut top three, it will be a toss-up battle of who has the best day to determine the remaining order of finish. Belmont, MV, Hopkinton, Prospect Mtn, and Gilford all raced each other at the Belmont Invite, all 5 teams finishing within 12 points of each other.
Individually, Wilkes is the favorite to win the Capital Area title in his first attempt. His closest competition may be from his own teammates, Oliver Spencer and Forest MacKenzie, the first and fourth returners from a year ago. After that things get interesting, with the St. Paul’s runners, led by Santi Saravia and Chapin Bassi, as well as the 7th through 10th place Belmont finishers; Simon Doneski of Hopkinton, David Reynolds of MV, Nick Randos of Belmont, and Mason Benedict of Kearsarge.
In the girls race, despite running without Cassie Shea, previously ranked Concord is still running strong as evidenced by a recent win at Mines Falls over 5 DI opponents. Jennika Mannesto should lead the Tide to their 5th straight win, barring an upset. MV did defeat Concord at Thetford, but Concord didn’t have Mannesto, and adding her into the equation more than makes up for the difference. MV does look like the favorite to repeat as runner-up despite losing to Kearsarge at the Belmont Invite, as they were missing top runner Kristie Schoffield. Looking to upset MV for the second spot is Kearsarge, Hopkinton, and the dark horse, Bow.
Individually, Schoffield looks to add her name to the short list of three-peaters at Capital Area. Only Olympic marathoner Guor Majak (Marial) (2002-2004) and 2002 National Outdoor 800 champion Rachel Umberger (1999-2001), both of Concord High, have done it. Among those looking for the big upset is Mannesto of Concord, Alice Riley of Belmont, and Tilton’s Maddie Clark. Clark is having a homecoming of sorts, as she placed 5th here in 2013 and 3rd in 2014 while running for Hopkinton. After these three, look for the freshmen duo of Emma Roth and Sydney Stockwell of Hopkinton and Gabrielle Czerula of Concord to compete for a spot in the top 5.