By Jim MacKenzie
The 7th Annual Manchester Middle School Invitational held at Derryfield Park included over 25 teams and nearly 900 runners. Let’s start off by saying thanks to the city of Manchester which did a great job restoring much of the terrain as an improvement for the well-being of runners competing on this legendary course!
Totally off the radar was Hampton Academy 7th grader Kate Burrus. She wasted very little time going to the front and taking command of the race. She went through the mile in 5:55 and had a comfortable 15 second lead on Strafford’s Mallory Taylor. Coming down the hill and back on to the grass, Burrus lead only grew larger. With the race in hand, she cruised to victory in a time of 13:15. The summer training is paying huge dividends for Taylor with big improvements as she maintained her separation over the next challengers and placed 2nd in 13:41. A great finishing kick by Merrimack Valley’s Sophia Rebenciuc (3rd 13:51) was the difference over Hood’s Emily Hood (4th 13:53) and Deerfield’s Bella Lemay (13:57). 2018 Nashua North Invitational winner Masho Primmer (6th 14:02) and her teammate Stephanie Svendsen (7th 14:02), were just ahead of Rundlett’s Molly Nyhan (8th 14:07), Hopkinton 6th grader S Murdough (9th 14:08), Hillside’s Devan Booth completed the Top 10 in 14:10. Christina Juris of Presentation of Mary placed 11th in 14:12, Deerfield’s Sophie Hopkins was 12th in 14:17, Strafford’s Sheldyn Fisher placed 13th in 14:22, Amherst’s Audrey Littlefield was 14th in 14:33 and Gina Rufo of West Running Brook placed 15th in a time of 14:39.
The Division 2 Champion Amherst girls proved once again by capturing the 2018 Manchester Middle School Invitational that perhaps they are the strongest overall team in the state regardless of division. They made it two Invitational wins in a row over Division 3 Champion Deerfield. Deerfield originally scored 5th in the team competition at trophy time, but was moved to second after a scoring error was discovered (new scores will be posted sometime this weekend). Last year’s Champion Hillside was 3rd, Rundlett placed 4th and Londonderry rounded out the top 5.
A car parked in the middle of the trail caused a rather lengthy delay to the start of the boy’s race. This type of distraction sometimes has detrimental effects on some racers. Not on the boys winner. Aidan Cox of Northwood is not only fast, he is mentally tough. He did not let outside interference or unforeseen obstacle get in his way or in his head. Right from the start Cox, distanced himself from the rest of the field. Cox attacked the course relentlessly. Coming down the bottom of the paved hill where the runners intersect each other. Cox nimbly slashed perpendicular through the crowd.
At this point the lead was insurmountable and the only real challenge was against the clock. Cox charged to the finish and this time the clock stopped at 11:09.8 a new Invitational record and a new course record that includes high school freshman. His time broke last year’s Londonderry freshman Will Heenan’s course record of 11:10.
Finishing in second place in 12:13 was Nashua North Invitational winner Kariso Anderson. A fine time that would win in year’s past. He looks to be the strong favorite to win the Division 2 State Championships. Third place finisher Luke Laborde of Hollis Brookline was in at 12:24 and looks to be his challenger.
Northwood’s Tyler Tkaczyk placed 4th 12:43, Capital Area Invitational winner Rundlett’s Quinton Pincoske was 5th 12:57, Londonderry’s Sean Clegg was 6th 13:00, Strafford’s Jamie Lano 7th 13:06, Merrimack Valley’s Mark Mercier 8th 13:13, McLaughlin’s Aidan Palmeter and Boden Rand of Deerfield place 10th in 13:17. The rest of the Top 15 was Tyler Telge of McLaughlin 11th 13:20, Hillside’s Ben Colby 12th 13:23, Hollis Brookline’s Ryan Burgher 13th 13:26, Hillside’s Micah Huffman 14th 13:27 and Rundlett’s Liam Gleason 15th 13:27
The other big surprise of the day was the powerhouse showing of Hollis-Brookline. They catapulted their way to being a solid favorite to win the Division 2 title this October 20th. By placing all five scorers in the top 23, they made it look easy winning their first Manchester Middle School Invitational Title. Rundlett placed second a week after winning the Capital Area Invitational and look to be a contender along with the third place team McLaughlin for the Division 1 Championship. Division 3 Champion Deerfield placed 4th to turn the tide and even the score on last week’s Nashua North Invitational Champion Amherst which placed 5th.
Congrats to all athletes!!! Good luck with the rest of the season. Hope to see many of you at this Saturday’s 44th Manchester Invitational!