Interviews below! Races after each recap!
Annually, the New England Cross Country Championships provides exciting, high level cross country full of confirmations and surprises! Athletes, coaches and parents are always faced with several challenges once qualified for this meet between travel, specific courses, weather conditions (windy and cold!), and the innate aspect of facing a field comprised of state champions and hundreds of runners of the same ability level all with the same goal in mind!
Through a few surprises, yesterday confirmed NH girls cross country as the strongest state in New England for the second consecutive year. Congratulations to Manchester West’s Julia Robitaille as she is the 2017 New England champion. As become her trademark, she ran a calm, cool and collected race, hanging back and out of the wind the first half of the race as the front pack dwindled to four and then two. In what can best be described as a strength race, Robitaille slowly turned the screws to gradually pull away from runner-up Eleanor Lawler (South Kingstown, RI) over the final mile and smiled once again as she crossed the finish line in 17:31. Exeter’s Jackie Gaughan, the early race leader, placed 6th overall in 18:06.
NH girls placed 10 of the top 25. Bishop Guertin’s Caroline Fischer placed 11th as she battled Souhegan’s Jane Leighton (12th, 18:22) the entire race. Milford’s Lauren Robinson posted her best race of the season placing 14th in 18:34 holding off a fast closing Haley Schmitt (15th, 18:36) of Bishop Guertin. Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox was the third fastest freshman of the day placing 17th in 18:40 as Oyster River’s Danielle Slavin closed fast placing 19th in 18:41. Pinkerton’s Meghan Cross was the first Trailblazer across the line in 22nd place (18:43) while West’s Corinne Robitaille rounded out the All-New England team in 25th place (18:45).
After placing 3rd in 2016, and earning runner-up honors at the 2017 Meet of Champions, the 2017 D1 Champs Pinkerton, in a mild surprise, took home the 2017 New England title with 163 points. What the Lady Astros may have lacked with not having that all-important low stick, they made up for with a pure consistent team effort. Led by Cross’s All-New England performance, their depth proved to be the difference as junior Jordan Vaillancourt placed 31st (18:57), senior Britney Johnson was 53rd (19:20), junior Ciara April placed 75th (19:32) and freshman Molly McGaffigan was 116th (20:00).
Bishop Guertin was certainly not devoid of low sticks as the Lady Cardinals placed 2 in the top 15 and 3 in the top 27 to take runner-up honors with 183 points. Sophomore Caroline Towle placed 27th in 18:46 to support Fischer’s and Schmitt’s performances, but it was freshman Kate Messer’s return to the line-up and placing 76th in 19:32 that proved the difference between last week and this week. Senior Rebecca Ntengeri was BG’s 5th scorer placing 172nd in 20:52.
Souhegan and Coe-Brown were separated by only 3 points as they placed 5th and 7th respectively. Putting in another consistently strong performance, Coe-Brown made it a tight D2 battle once again as they had five in front of Souhegan’s fifth with Cox, Abigail O’Connor, Eleanor McDonough, Sarah Dupuis and Ella Malone. However Souhegan had just enough to edge the Lady Bears by 3 points with Leighton, Marisa Romano (38th, 19:08), Arielle Zlotnick (55th, 19:21) run very strong races. NH’s other team qualifiers Oyster River and Merrimack placed 14th and 18th respectively.
In yet another historic performance, Concord took another step forward as they placed 5th with 202 points. Although not achieving their ultimate goal, this marked the first top 5 finish at a New Englands since 1983! Connecticut schools went 1-2 with Xavier taking the title over defending champion Staples. Bishop Hendricken and La Salle Academy both of Rhode Island were 3rd and 4th respectively.
Forest MacKenzie once again led the Crimson Tide using all 5000 meters, as always, to place 14th overall in 16:02 edging Nashua North’s David Vorbach who placed 16th in 16:03. Exeter’s Jake Winslow joined MacKenzie and Vorbach on the All-New England team as he placed 24th in 16:13.
Concord senior, Oliver Spencer ran one of his best races of the season placing 35th in 16:22 as did fellow senior Matt O’Brien who placed 61st in 16:36. Also scoring for Concord were senior Nate Nichols (80th, 16:48) and junior Eli Boesch Dining (83rd, 16:49).
In a bit of a surprise, last week’s final qualifier, Coe-Brown, was NH’s second team as they placed 13th overall. Led by Evan Tanguay’s 36th place finish (16:22), the Bears certainly benefited from pack running as Luke Tkaczyk, Wyatt Mackey and Gavyn Lewis finished with the same time, 17:07. Also scoring for CBNA was sophomore Dawson Dubois (17:24).
Led by Kieran Murphy’s 64th place finish, Oyster River placed 14th with 458 points edging Keene by only 2 points! Matter of fact, Will Heenan led Londonderry to a 17th place finish only six points behind Keene. Heenan was the meet’s top freshman as he placed 33rd in 16:20! NH’s other team qualifier, Nashua North placed 19th with 496 points.
See you all next year at Derryfield as NH hosts the 2018 New Englands!!!