By Mike Smith
With a certainty that new course records would be established at the 36th Jeri Blair Belmont Invitational, both the women’s and the men’s races did what they could to surprise those watching. While the course wasn’t exceedingly difficult to understand, all it takes is one wrong move on an unfamiliar route and it changes everything. The leaders in both races made in-race decisions that affected the finishing times, with the women’s race being cut short (approx. 5050 meters) and the men’s race going long (approx. 5310 meters).
However this didn’t impact the racing, as athletes took advantage of the cool, dry weather to get out and go at each other. The new race start provided a longer run up to the single track (much longer for the men) affording athletes a bit more space to separate and keep the pace moving. This led to some great racing up front, some strong head to head battles in the women’s race, and some aggressive team to team battles in the men’s race.
Starting us off in the girls race was Leila Trummel of Hanover, going right to the front and pushing the pace by a quarter mile in, followed by a trio of D3’s best in Mya Dube of Kearsarge, Alice Riley of Belmont and Samantha Bilodeau of Mascenic. By the halfway, Dube had joined Trummel at the front and was working to pull away. Riley and Bilodeau were in a battle of their own for third, followed by a chase pack that included HB’s Kay Partridge, Elsa Nordstrom of Hanover, Avery Scully of Sanborn, Kearsarge’s Jenna Bears, White Moutains Leah Dutkewych, and Delia Cormier of Laconia.
Dube would make a gap on Trummel heading into the final single track, but elected to run the fence line on the softball field instead and Trummel followed trying to close the gap. Dube was able to hold off a hard charging Trummel to finish in 19 minutes, 21 seconds, one second up on Trummel. Riley would separate from Bilodeau and finish that way, both more than 12 seconds on the chase pack, who would finish in the order as listed.
With their top four in the top twenty, Hanover would win this one easily with 70 points, led by Trummel, . Second, somewhat surprisingly with no one in the top ten was Hopkinton. With 107 points, their entire scoring seven was in the top 50. Third went to Kearsarge (121 points), fourth Hollis/Brookline (144 points), and fifth was host school Belmont (146 points.)
The men’s race got out quick with Sanborn’s freshman Dylan Kahlil being credited with the wrong turn just over a quarter mile into the race that sent the runners the long way and backwards around the softball field before heading into the single track. With coaches scratching their heads and spectators jumping out of the way as the racers navigated the wrong path, things were pretty off balance for the first 1000 meters of the race. Once the dust settled HB’s Kenny Corsetti remained in the front looking to break away from the chase pack. He was being tracked by Moultonborough’s Dylan McLaughlin, Kahlil, Brandon Langdon of John Stark, Kearsarge’s Mason Benedict as well as Mascenic’s Dakota Somero, Josh Movsessian, DJ Turner, Logan Thibault and Michael Fappiano, filling a pretty solid chase pack.
It was apparent early Mascenic brought their “A” game and the crew from Kearsarge made a quick adjustment to try to bridge the gap between the two teams, with their guys moving through the pack. Out front Corsetti was setting a quick pace with Langdon and McLaughlin working together to reel him in. Corsetti would manage to stay out front in this one, winning in 18 minutes, 13 seconds, nine seconds up on McLaughlin. Benedict would catch Langdon for 3rd, with Mascenic’s freshman Movsessian placing fifth. Kahlil, Turner, Somero, Trevor Pauling of Kearsarge and Kyle Mann of Winnisquam would round out the top ten.
The team race was a battle between the two teams ranked in the top ten in NH, Mascenic and Kearsarge, and a battle nit was, with nine of the top twenty from these two teams. Mascenic won by 21 points, 48 to 69, with Hanover (91 points), Sanborn (146 points) and Bow (158 points) rounding out the top five.