Race Schedule (**Afternoon Start SATs): Middle School Girls 1:45pm, Middle School Boys 2:15pm, JV Girls 2:45pm, JV Boys 3:25pm, Varsity Girls 4:05pm, Boys Varsity Race 4:45pm
Coaches can register and run up to 9 in the varsity races
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Runners to Watch: Danielle Slavin (Oyster River), Alli Pratt (Coe-Brown), Susan Poore (Windham), Leya Salis (Bedford), Caroline Fischer (Bishop Guertin), Rebecca Durham (Milford), Lucy Glueck (Hanover)
The Black Bear Invite looks to be a great mid-season test for some of the top teams in the state, including 4 currently ranked teams: #1 Coe-Brown, #3 Bishop Guertin, #6 Bedford, and #7 Hanover. While Coe-Brown surprised the state with their showing at MI42, this will be the first time at a big meet that we will see Bishop Guertin in action at full strength. Many obviously noticed freshman Caroline Fischer’s eye-popping, record breaking performance, but did you notice how fast the other two freshmen, Caroline Towle (13:08) and Haley Schmitt (13:20) ran? With those three, BG’s fifth would have been in around 20:52, while Coe-Brown’s five cross by 20:34. Yes this still seems to lean toward Coe-Brown winning, but Bishop Guertin certainly is a contender this year and could very well take home the Black Bear title. After all, this is a brand new Coe-Brown team which has only had one test so far this season.
Look for a pretty tight battle between Bedford (NH #6) and Hanover (NH #7). Bedford seems to have the edge here benefiting from Leya Salis’s 1-2 points and, based on MI42 merge, having a faster top 5. Hanover certainly has more experience than Bedford on Coe-Brown’s rolling woods course; however, it was a Bedford team which upset Coe-Brown back in 2012, the last time Coe-Brown lost on its home course. Between Hanover and Bedford, it really will come down to each teams 3-4-5 scorers.
Individually, Bedford’s Salis ran a blistering 18:26 last weekend at Derryfield. On paper and with her experience of being a national qualifier last year, she would have to be the favorite. However, BG’s Fischer literally smashed the freshman course record last weekend. She has to be considered as one of the fastest in the state. Also, one cannot count out Alli Pratt from Coe-Brown. She will be on her home course and represents the other runner who ran in the 18’s last week.
Look for Windham’s Susie Poore, Hanover freshman Lucy Glueck, Milford’s Rebecca Durham, Oyster River’s Danielle Salvin, Coe-Brown’s Sarah Dupuis, Con-Val’s Clare Veverka, and BG’s Towle and Schmitt to all vie for top 10 slots.
Runners to Watch: Patrick O’Brien (Oyster River), David Vorbach (Nashua North), Jackson Brannen (Goffstown), Connor Muise (Nashua North), Zach Richards (CBNA), Tanner Richards (CBNA), Jake Movessian (Mascenic)
Over the past four years, the Black Bear Invitational has been a showdown of sorts between Coe-Brown (NH #3) and Oyster River (NH #5) with each team winning two. This year, with Nashua North (NH#2) crashing the party, it should prove to be a three team race for the 2016 title. Last week North was NH’s second best team besting Coe-Brown by 1 point. While North certainly has the superior 1-2 punch in David Vorbach and Connor Muise, if Coe-Brown can achieve a better pack time, they could pull off the minor upset. One needs to continue to consider Oyster River (NH #5) a contender as well. Obviously they benefit from the inevitable Patrick O’Brien win, but they have yet to be fully healthy and functioning on all cylinders. Each week they will get healthier and each week they will get faster. Expect them to take a step forward this week.
Other teams to watch include Bishop Guertin, Spaulding, Bedford, Kennett, Kingswood and Mascenic. Of this bunch, BG had the best showing at MI42 last week and garnered some attention when discussing this week’s rankings. Also, Kingswood, at last week’s Waterville Valley Invitational, came within a handful of points of upsetting NH #9 Kearsarge. Based on their strong performances early season, a newcomer newcomer to the contender bunch is Spaulding.
Individually, O’Brien is the obvious favorite to win his 3rd consecutive Black Bear title. It stands to note that the last athlete on the boys side to do this was another Bobcat, Eyob Euyalem from 2004-2006. Look to Vorbach and Muise along with a group of red jerseys from CBNA to comprise the chase pack. Also joining that pack should be Mascenic’s Jake Movessian, and Jackson Brannen (Goffstown).