The Plymouth “John Sanborn” Invitational is our final non-championship meet of the year. On a weekend when most teams travel to pancake flat races or 2.9 mile “5k’s” and run ridiculously fast times, we instead head north to the challenge of Plymouth and it’s infamous “Easy Button” hill. At this point in the season the hay is pretty much in the barn, so to speak, we just have to organize it. Meaning this is the season where the bulk of the work is behind us and we need to now work with what we have. We like the challenge of the course, but mostly we like the low-stress atmosphere and the fact that many athletes can get recognition through their placing. The weather is often an interesting factor at this meet - one year we had snow flakes - but it was pleasantly cool for the meet. There were two changes to the course, the biggest being that the Easy Button was GONE!!! We’ll just have to install one at ours. Or rather the “NO” button.
The girls race set off first, with newly-ranked Oyster River (#10 team in the state) and Kennett representing the biggest challenges. Staying true to the pre-race plan, Kristie paced out the first mile before leaning forward and taking off. She held a 1-second lead over second place at the mile, extending it to 20 seconds by the time they came out of the woods ¾ of a mile later, and would go on to win easily (and defend her title) by 39 seconds. In doing so she also made up for an early-season loss to one of her DII foes, Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin. Lauren, Noelle, and Emma worked together through the mile and half, with Noelle and Lauren steadily moving up through the pack, while Emma did a great job maintaining her place. In the end all three earned top-20 medals, with Lauren throwing in a gnarly kick to land 8th place, Noelle right behind her in 11th and both going sub-22. Emma finished a strong 17th, running her second-best time of the year. Tristan ran through some discomfort and gave no ground over the final mile to finish as the fifth and final scoring member of the MV team. Overall, Oyster River and Kennett finished 1-2, with MV a not-too-distant third. The difference between MV and Kennett was our 5th placer - the top 4 were roughly equal - we just need to close that gap!
Up next, the boys, with 5th ranked Oyster River leading the charge, although without their top boy (or two). David got out well and stayed there, running in a group that didn’t break up until the final downhill. The eventual winner got away on his own, but David managed to drop one and almost caught the second-placer to earn a bronze medal. Matt took some time to figure out his breathing, but once he did it was a sight to see; him hammering up the long multi-stage hill, moving from about 50th to 17th and a medal position. He likely covered the second half of the course faster than anyone besides the top 4. Despite feeling a bit under the weather, Dylan managed a solid time on the tough course, not enough for a medal, but very respectable none-the-less. Matt Lyle cruised in as our 4th runner once again, while in a minor surprise Ryan finished as our final scorer in 5th. Overall the boys were a very solid 4th of 8 teams.