Saturday morning saw us on the bus early, heading to our first Invite since Great Glen, and the first (and by far the smallest) of three Saturday Invites in a row. Rather than heading towards the seacoast as we usually do this weekend we rolled down I-93 and 101 to Amherst and Freestyle Farm, due to construction at Oyster River. It’s very exciting to head to a new course, it’s not very often that happens anymore! We have been there for the Saber Relays once in the past, but that is just a 3k course. This was our first foray onto the 5k course, and what a beauty it is! Tough to spectate, but beautiful to run. It is not a fast course, but not a particularly slow one either.
Setting our beautiful “Crane” canopy up by the water, it was off to walk the course. 2/3rds of the way through, we realized we wouldn’t make it back in time for the coaches meeting, so Miranda, in her new role of “student coach”, bravely headed off to attend her first ever meeting of the minds. Finishing up our course walk, we prepped for the first race, the boys JV (only 7 running girls today, but that’s all you need for a varsity team!).
Lucas, Mitchell, and David Q. were our participants in this race. Lucas, promised a reward for finishing under 30 minutes, bravely battled all the way to the line...but did not add to his piggy bank this time. Mitchell would have, however, if he had made the same deal. A very solid sub-30 on a tough course! David was even earlier, claiming a time that would actually place him 7th for the day among the boys.
The varsity girls were next, claiming the valuable spot at the height-of-land. Kristie got off to a strong start, leading the pack through 2k, eventually giving up a few places to finish 4th in a strong field of girls. Lauren moved up throughout the race...but fell one spot shy of earning a medal and taking down Emma’s middle school arch-nemesis. Lucky for Lauren it was not a 6k, as behind her Noelle was making serious gains on everyone to yet again run a PR - this time with her BRAND NEW SPIKES! Yay! Sub-22 Tuesday? I think it’s coming soon! Emma strode in with a solid effort and painful ankles in 4th team position, while Tristan claimed the 5th spot in a time that is almost two minutes faster than her time last year on a faster course. Thetford third seed champion, 2016? Looking good! Willow continued being dependable Willow, running a patient race as she always does to finish as our 6th girl, while Maizie wrapped up the scoring with a great 26:00 time in 7th. As a team we finished 4th in a field of 14 teams, despite missing our usual #3 runner. Great job girls!
Varsity boys, last race of the day. The season debut of NH’s projected #1 runner. Patrick O’Brien, did not disappoint as he CRUSHED the field in an insane time of 15:54. That is a good time anywhere, but especially on a course like Freestyle Farms. Meanwhile for MV, David actually had a shot at runner-up, but just did not have the speed over the last ¼ mile and finished a fantastic 5th in a new XC PR. Not far behind was brother Matt, running faster over the final 2k of the course than probably about anyone except O’Brien. Dylan again had a strong race coming in 3rd for the team (sub 19 on Tuesday, you heard it here first!), while River, promoted to varsity just that morning, demonstrated he belonged there by taking almost three minutes off his time from Tuesday to finish 4th on the team. And who is that in 5th?! Matt L., with a HUGE PR! Keep taking time off, Matt! Ryan came in next, very close to a PR himself, while Connor wrapped up the team scoring for MV, allergies, sliding glasses, and trainers (Dick’s Sporting Goods apparently don’t know the difference between track spikes and XC spikes - GRRRRR!) and all. The boys did well in finishing 10th of 14, in their best team time of the year (so far).