Race Videos, interviews and pics (soon) on the MOC Meet Hub!
Results Courtesy of LancerTiming
Well NH, we did it! We all did it! We pulled off an enviable NH Cross Country season. We stuck with what we could do, stayed positive and made it work. Yes it looked different, but without compromising, we would not have had the incredible cross country action and historical performances we have had over the past 8 days! Congrats to all!
Now before we get into the recaps, of note should be the work of Nashua South High School to graciously host an event of this size during a pandemic! They are a school and community willing to open their campus so kids can pursue their goals and the course has never looked better! Thank you Lisa and company! Additionally, the work of committee members Nate Burns and Arthur Demers should be valued. Nate Burns overseeing the site much like Lee Hess and Larry Martin did for Derryfield last week.
Arthur Demers, who designed the MOC course earlier this century, and his son Phil worked tirelessly to ensure the course was exactly 5000 meters (the course last year was short). So keep that in mind when considering this year’s performances, especially if you were a competing athlete. If you matched your time, you actually improved anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds. Not to mention it was HOT. What an about-face! Division 1 competed in 25 degrees over a snow covered course, while this week, it was 75, sunny and no wind!! That is NH!
Unlike last year when Bishop Guertin’s Caroline Fischer grabbed a quick 30 meter lead with only a quarter of a mile of racing completed, this year there was a definitive from pack led by the Coe-Brown’s Addison Cox, Souhegan’s Chloe Trudel, Merrimack Valley’s Sophia Reynolds and PCA’s Liza Corso. Over the course of the 1st mile, these 4 would gain some separation going through the 1st mile in 5:45 with Hanover’s Riley Roach and BG’s MaryKate Finn in tow. The chase pack consisted of D1 Champ Bedford’s Carly Rinko, D3 Champ PCA’s Brianna Malone, Concord’s Katherine Kennedy, Exeter’s Anna Madden and North’s Dantia Braccio would cross around 6:00. At this point, with the waves, it was difficult to discern a team battle, but it seemed Hanover and Exeter had come with their A games and were off to hot starts.
During the woods loop, D2 State Champ Cox made a notable move to string out the front pack crossing the 2 mile mark in 11:45 (give or take). Cox only had a 5 meter lead over friendly rival Trudel,who in turn had only a 5 meter lead over Reynolds with Corso another 5 meters back. Cox dropped the pace again between the bridge and the fields to open the lead to 15 meters or so, only to have Trudel answer come back and close to less then 10 meters with 1k to go. As they passed the 1 mile mark heading into the pines, Cox opened it back up to 8 seconds and would go on to be the NH State Champion with a time of 18:01. To her credit, Trudel never was truly broken, and crossed in 18:13 for second.
Behind them there was another battle, as Reynolds was able to hold off Rinko and Roach for 3rd as the MV junior crossed in 18:55 to Rinko’s 19:00 and Roach’s 19:06. Exeter’s Madden would come in 6th in 19:18. BG’s Finn placed 7th in 19:26 outleaning Monadnock’s Delaney Swanson. PCA’s Malone placed 9th in 19:31 with Campbell’s Megan Whitnell rounding out the top 10 in 19:35.
The team battle came down to a single point as first and second place’s score was 104-105. After a seesaw battle, Hanover would nip Exeter for the 2020 Meet of Champs team win! Pre race favorite Coe-Brown would be only 11 points back and raced admirably behind Cox’s effort. While Exeter’s 4-5 won the battles over Hanover, it was the Marauders who won the battles between each squad’s 1-2-3 runners to win. That is cross country team competition at its finest!
Even closer were the teams in 4th and 5th as Concord and Bedford tied through 5 scorers. Concord would win the tiebreaker literally by less than a second as both Alexis’s Concord’s Christie and Bedford’s Mahoney both ran 20:56. Wow! And to round out what would have been the final New Englands qualifier, Souhegan placed 6th. Of note, for the first time in quite some time, Dover girls placed 7th securing a top 10 ranking!
Expectations. Meeting expectations can be daunting and at times too much. Thankfully that was not the case at yesterday’s NH Meet of Champions as both the favored individual and team met and possibly exceeded expectations. Last week Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox shocked everyone with breaking the state record at NH’s most storied of courses while his team Coe-Brown met expectations by posting the fastest team average in history on that course. This week, both were looking to match those accomplishment. In order to do that, the pace could not slack and it did not disappoint as CBNA’s cousin duo of Cox and Luke Tkaczyk strung out the field through the first 800 in 2:16. It was a string of champions as sitting in third at that point were D3 Champ Gilford’s Patrick Gandini followed by Dover’s Tyler Sheedy and then D1 Champ Concord’s Eben Bragg. Not far behind Bragg was 2019 D3 Champ Landen Vaillancourt and Bragg’s teammate Brayden Kearns.
Cox crossed the mile in 4:39 ensuring the effort was honest if not ripping towards records. At this point, Vaillancourt made a hard, valiant move and bid to challenge the sophomore Cox while Tkaczyk, Gandini, Bragg, Kearns, and Sheedy were certainly playing a bit of chess after the strong initial mile. By now a secondary pack formed with Oyster River’s Andy O’Brien, Windham’s Rohan Rai and Londonderry’s Ryan Young leading the remainder of NH. As the field was crossing the bridge, it was clear Coe-Brown was having another great day, possibly historic day, as their top 7 was clearly establishing themselves.
Cox’s effort did not wane over the woods loop as he crossed the 2 mile mark in 9:28! Amazingly, he was not alone, as the gamer, Vaillancourt crossed the deuce in 9:39 with Tkaczyk not too far behind in 9:48 and Bragg hunting at 9:52. Kearns and Gandini crossed in 9:55 and 9:58. O’Brien made a huge move over the second mile to catch and pass Dover’s Sheedy as they both crossed the 2 mile mark around 10:00. And by this time Sanborn’s Jared Khalil brought himself up into striking distance as well. Notice as we are yet to mention Carter Sylvester.
Believe it or not, Cox seemed to drop the pace 1 more time as he drove towards the fields. The real race was occurring behind him as Tkaczyk caught Vaillancourt, and Bragg was catching Tkaczyk. In the end, all seemed to fade just a bit over the final 1k, which made the record seem to be slightly in doubt. Cox hit the 3 mile mark in 14:27 and was able to hang on and cross the line in 14:58 to become the first ever NH high school kid to go sub-15! Bragg completed his hunting expedition to place second in 15:23 to a never-give-in and fast closing Tkaczyk’s 15:28.
Now the waves became a factor as Kearns seemingly crossed the line in 4th. What no one noticed or saw was THE Carter Sylvester steadily moving up the entire 3.1 miles to actually nab 4th on time in 15:40 to Kearns’ 15:45. Vaillancourt would place 6th in 15:47 holding off a O’Brien (15:49) as they both outlasted Gandini, who placed a great 8th in 15:51. Perhaps the surprise of the season, Windham’s Michael Killian placed 9th in 15:52 with Dover’s Sheedy rounding the top 10 in 15:57 and Milford’s Caleb Korthals placing 11th but being the final runner under 16 flat posting a time of 15:58.
With Sylvester placing 4th, Coe-Brown did the unthinkable. They literally took 3 of the top 4 places at the Meet of Champions. This may never be duplicated at this meet and with Logan Mihelich (13th, 16:04), Wyatt Mackey (15th, 16:06), Lars Hogne (19th, 16:19), and Jamie Lano (16:50), the Coe-Brown Bears posted the fastest team average in NH history at 15:40. Not to mention they scored a record-low for boys, 29 points.
As expected with Bragg and Kearns leading the way Concord placed a comfortable 2nd with 81 points. The real team competition was between Windham and Londonderry as the Jaguars edged the Lancers by a scant 2 points 107 to 109. Sanborn placed 5th with 165 points while Bishop Guertin would have been the final New England qualifier placing 6th with 183 points.
Wow. Simply Wow. Sibling state champions. Ever happen before??? During a global pandemic, the Granite State was able to have an actual XC season filled with competition, drama, champions and records! Congrats to all!!!