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Results Courtesy of Lancertiming
If you build it, they will come! That was the mantra as Oyster River coaches Scott McGrath, Drew Thibeault and DeMeritt Hills Farms Ryan Wilson were guided by as they designed and yes constructed a course requiring the toughness and grit represnetative of the Granite State. Kudos to the Oyster River and DeMeritt Hill Farm communities for providing a product to be proud of as student-athletes from 20+ schools took part in this year’s edition of one of the oldest invitationals in the state.
And what a day it was! New course. Tough course. Three major climbs. One of the more picturesque XC courses in the state winding through the beautiful apple orchards of DeMeritt Hill Farm. These were some of the thoughts permeating among spectators, athletes and coaches on Sunday, which translated to cautious racing over the first half of a course featuring a major hill in each of the three miles.
The JV races simply saw Phillips Exeter Academy win both team competitions. While Hopkinton’s Lily Sabol took the individual victory in 23:12, PEA placed 5 in the top 12 to take the team JV title by only 8 points over Phillips Academy 35-42. Oyster River led by Leah Parks and Addie Berglund were 3rd.
On the boys side, PEA continued as they took six of the top 7 spots, almost sweeping the meet with 16 points. Andrew Luke (not Luck) won the race in 18:36. Winnacunnet’s Ben Berman placed 5th to pace Winnacunnet to a 2nd place finish.
In the girls varsity race, PEA would continue its hot streak as they took control from upstart Hopkinton after the mile to win with 59 points over ever-improving Souhegan by only 11 points. Upstart D3 Hopkinton with a tight pack held a slim team lead at the mile eventually placed 3rd with 101 points. PEA and Souhegan would use their experience and tradition to battle over the second half of the most challenging course in NH. While Souhegan placed 3 in the top 10, PEA placed 5 in the top 20 which proved the difference.
Individually, MV freshman Sophia Rebenciuc burst out to an early lead as now-veterans Chloe Trudel (Souhegan), MV teammate/2018 MOC Champ Sophia Reynolds (MV), and Trudel’s teammate Mackenzie Hayden relaxed and rolled through the first half of the course. A pair of PEA runners, Gia Pisano and Sophie Cohen were close behind. Leading up through the halfway mark and the second climb to the 2 mile mark, Trudel opened up a decent lead over Reynolds as Rebenciuc, still looking strong, focused, faded a bit to 3rd place as they entered the final woods loop. Hayden solidified 4th as the PEA duo maintained their 5th and 6th positions.
The final woods loop, descent and then climb only saw Trudel extend her lead as she flew to the win in a course record setting 19:41. The freshman Sophia (Rebenciuc) would overtake Reynolds in the final mile to edge her teammate 20:14 to 20:17 with Hayden finishing 4th in 20:30. PEA’s Cohen and Pisano would hang on to their positions as Hopkinton’s Emma Rothe placed 7th in 21:41. Rounding out the top 10 were Dover’s Ashlyn Smith (21:49), Souhegan freshman Masho Primmer (21:51), and Milford’s Abbey Halloran (21:52).
Onto the boys race and the teams standing in the way of a PEA total sweep of the team titles were host school Oyster River and Winnacunnet. The boys race got off to a surprising start as Kennett’s Chris Desmaris took the early lead putting pressure on the field. He was eventually over come around the mile by OR’s Andy O’Brien, who was followed by a chase pack of Winnacunnet’s Colin Donnelly, PEA’s Varun Oberai, OR’s Myles Carrico, Phillips Academy Alex Fleury, and Sanborn frosh Jared Khalil.
Around mid-race, progressing up to the 2 mile mark, Donnelly made a Trudel-like move to over take O’Brien rolling to the lead by the deuce. Over the final mile, Donnelly kept his lead, but the win was over eventual runner-up Oberai (PEA) 16:43 to 16:52. OR’s Carrico would wind up 3rd in a battle of milers over Fleury 17:01 to 17:04 as well as O’Brien who placed close behind in 17:06. Sanborn frosh Khalil would be 6th in 17:13 and Con-Val’s Harrison Kim placed 7th in 17:22. Rounding out the top 10 were PEA’s Connor Chen, Winnacunnet’s Noah Taracena, and PEA’s Jinwoo Kang.
Teamwise, although close, neither OR or Winnacunnet could over come PEA’s placing 5 in the top 16 as PEA won by 12 points over host Oyster River 51 to 63. Winnacunnet would wind up 3rd with 82 points.
Hats off certainly to Oyster River and DeMeritt Hill Farm. It is not every day a XC course is constructed for our sport! And while it might be a tad tough, it cerrtainly presented as a course more than worthy of praise!!! Thank you for your contribution to our sport!