By Ian French
After a long spring and summer, it’s really fun to be here writing up a preview for an actual meet. I had to repeatedly tell myself over the past six months that I wouldn’t get too excited about things until I was actually at a meet. This Saturday, the wait comes to an end with one of the best rivalries around as the Pinkerton Astros and Londonderry Lancers meet up for what should hopefully be a fun and competitive meet.
First off, the course. It’s fast. In order to try and keep runners from looping on each other we changed the course a bit which means a paved section was added where the runners should absolutely fly. It’s exactly 5000 meters and it wouldn’t surprise me to see several of the runners dip under sixteen minutes if the weather cooperates. Additionally, it’s pretty limited hill wise. In fact, the only slow portion of the course is a probably 400m run around a pumpkin patch in a nearby field. It finishes on the track which means impressive finishes.
Onto the teams! This race features four boys who are likely top ten Division I finishers based on their 2019 seasons. On Pinkerton, Luke Brennan and Stephen Connelly are the number two and eight DI returners and for Londonderry Ryan Young and Matt Griffin are the five and seven. These guys should absolutely tear this course up. If I’m Brennan or Young, I would try to start a long push over the final 1200m of the course because getting into a foot race with either Connelly or Griffin would likely be a mistake with them both being solidly sub 2:00 800m runners. Letting the race come to a final sprint does not play to either of their strengths as excellent 2 milers. The on the track finish means everyone will know exactly where the other racers are so it should be fun to see who brings a kick with them.
After the top four it likely becomes about depth. Pinkerton brings a strong 3rd man in returner Ethan Charles,but he’ll have his hands full with Londonderry’s Sean Clegg, who was the strongest freshman in the division last year. After that, Pinkerton seems to have a bit of a gap to their 4th returner Nate Letellier and this seems to be where Londonderry has an advantage in Will Plante finishing almost a minute ahead of him last year. This could end up being the difference maker as Londonderry’s next guy ended last year as one of the top finishers at JV states and has looked excellent at practice up until now.
The girls race is a bit of a toss up on paper as both squads are relatively young. Pinkerton can never be ruled out as a threat and have Makenna Alden leading the way. Londonderry returns junior Grace McDonough to lead their squad which also has great promise!
A challenge for all the runners will be not going out too fast. The flat first mile and the lack of races will probably have everyone pretty hyped up and it would be really easy to get sucked into going out way faster than planned.
I’m thinking we end up with a Londonderry boys win on the team side and Brennan taking the race win with Griffin hot on his heels for the individual. Good luck to both teams!
Photos Courtesy of Jason Plante