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Capsule outlook of the area’s high school cross country teams

High school cross country outlook

Coe-Brown

Division: II

Coach: Tim Cox (14th year) and Brent Tkaczyk (15th year)

Last year: Boys: 7th; Girls: 1st

Returning starters: Boys: Jeremy Brassard, sr.; Lucas Fisher, sr.; Jared Nelson, so.; Cam Watson, so. Girls: Jessie Carney, sr.; Hannah Parker, jr.; Katie Scannell, jr.; Elisabeth Danis, so.; Megan Scannell, so.; Brooke Laskowsky, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: Davio Deluca, fr.; Sam Noel, so.; Alex Prevatt, sr.; Tanner Richards, fr.; Jake Scarponi, so.; Jacob Snow, fr. Girls: Mary Fowler, sr.

Outlook: The Coe-Brown girls have won three straight D-II titles, two consecutive Meet of Champions crowns and finished second in New England last year. They want even more this year, and given all the talent they have back, that’s actually a reasonable goal. “The girls are looking to improve on last year’s performance, and six of the top seven are returning,” Coach Cox said. “They’re excited to compete with all the teams from New Hampshire and New England.” While the boys aren’t coming off the team success that the girls enjoyed, they do have the No. 1 runner in the state returning. Brassard won both the D-II and Meet of Champions titles last year. Cox likes the team’s senior leadership with Brassard and Fisher, and with Prevatt joining as a senior, it gives the team direction. The “team should benefit from an influx of youngsters,” Cox said. “Success will depend on how quickly the newcomers can make a varsity impact.”

Teams to beat: Boys: Oyster River, Souhegan, Portsmouth, Lebanon; Girls: Hanover, Hollis-Brookline, Oyster River

John Stark

Division: II

Coach: Jessica Chisholm and Nicole Richardson (3rd year)

Last year: Boys: DNS; Girls: 9th

Returning starters: Boys: Tyler DeStefano, jr.; Robert Kram, so. Girls: Hailey Nase, jr.; Hazel Johnstone, so.; Madeline Ishak, so.; Hannah Erskine, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: Kaden Hirschenhofer; Girls: Rebecca Kuzma

Outlook: The Generals are right down the middle experience-wise, with half of the team returning and the other half as newcomers. The returners and newcomers are looking strong and the team is ahead of where it began last preseason. The girls’ team looks especially strong with three of the top four runners from last year’s ninth-place team returning, led by its captain, Nase. This year’s preseason has included building endurance, speed and team camaraderie as the Generals aim to qualify for Meet of Champions, break school records and beat their personal-best times. The coaches are excited to see their progress and performance throughout the season.

Merrimack Valley

Division: II

CoachES: Dave Irving (11th year) and Jeff Neilsen (5th year)

Last year: Boys: 3rd; Girls: 16th

Returning starters: Boys: Carter Saltmarsh, sr.; Brendan Polichronopoulos, sr.; Keegan Hanks, sr.; Damon Perron, sr. Girls: Cassie Owens, sr.; Raquel Gelinas, jr.; Jessica Belanger, jr.

Top newcomers: Boys: Brandon Richardson, jr.; Walker John, so.; Raging River Lynch, fr.; Brad Nash, sr. Girls: Cindy Fanny, sr.; Kelsey Belanger, jr.; Madison Irving, sr.; Abby Davis, so.

Outlook: It would seem that with four of the top five runners from last year’s team that was one of the top 25 fastest in New England graduated, it would be a rebuilding year. However, that isn’t the case for the MV boys. Saltmarsh (returning from a season-ending injury), Richardson (returning from a season off) and John (newcomer), all currently in the Pride’s top four, did run last season. Saltmarsh and Polichronopoulos (13th in D-II last year) are both looking for top 10 finishes, while Richardson and John are looking to finish in the top 25. There is a healthy mix of newcomers and veterans competing for the final three varsity spots. “With 18 runners on the roster, we have the most depth we’ve had in years,” the coaches said. With three returning runners from a team that scored in only three meets last season, the MV girls are bolstered by the addition of seven new runners. Fanny is returning from a season off and joins Gelinas and Owens to form a solid top three. The challenge for the Pride girls will be to develop some new runners to fill the next two scoring spots. If all goes well, MV will certainly improve on last year’s finish, with an outside shot at finishing in the top 10.

Teams to beat: Boys: Oyster River, Souhegan, Lebanon, Portsmouth, Coe-Brown; Girls: Coe-Brown, Hollis-Brookline, Oyster River, Souhegan

Pembroke

Division: II

Coach: Justin Marsh (1st year)

Last year: Boys: 19th; Girls: 17th

Returning starters: Boys: Drew Harrison, sr.; Connor Boucher, jr.; Ian Weech, so.; Kam Anderson, so.; Stephen Abbott, so. Girls: Mariah Mitchell, sr.; Jayla Decker, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: John Sanborn, jr.; Ryan Jacques, jr.

Outlook: The Spartans add three freshmen to the mix, two on a relatively young boys’ squad that has just one senior. The boys also should benefit from the addition of a couple of athletes from other sports (one from football, one from soccer). Five of the seven Pembroke girls are seniors, giving the team plenty of veteran leadership. The focus, as usual, will be on steady improvement throughout the season.

Belmont

Division: III

Coach: Aaron Hayward (7th year)

Last year: Boys: 26th; Girls: DNS

Returning starters: Boys: Tyler Rolfe, sr.; Ian Rupp, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: Isaiah Knowleton, fr.; Riley Woods, so. Girls: Talia Sperduto, fr.

Outlook: With only three runners on the roster, the Red Raider girls won’t score as a team, but if the very driven and talented Sperduto stays healthy, she can compete for a spot at Meet of Champions. The boys’ team was decimated by illness and injury in a disappointing season last year, but it should improve on last year’s finish. Captain Rolfe leads a young team of six athletes (including four underclassmen) as the lone senior and has put in significant effort over the summer and should make a big leap in his times this year. If consistently healthy, Rupp could surprise the competition, as well.

Bishop Brady

Division: III

Coach: Bill Heath (12th year)

Last year: Boys: 13th; Girls: 15th

Returning starters: Boys: Warren Bartlett, jr.; Stephen Weinmann, sr. Girls: Devyn Saucier, so.; Amelia Toole, so.; Chelsea Marshall, sr.; Marissa Bates, sr.

Top newcomers: Boys: Jake Boesch, sr.; James Newman, jr.; Jeremy Bates, fr.; Will Chiang, jr. Girls: Lauren Lamberger, fr.; Kayla Laurent, fr.; Madison Laurent, fr.; Emma Logue, fr.; Anna Carroll, fr.; Mikaela Newman, fr.; Julia Jones, fr.

Outlook: The boys should improve on last year’s 13th-place finish, thanks to the addition of Boesch. The Green Giants are led by Bartlett and supported by Weinmann, the top two Brady runners at the D-III championships last year. The girls’ team is also looking to improve. The top four runners from last season’s team are returning and they are joined by seven freshmen. The large number of freshmen runners and young returners (two sophomores) “is a good step in rebuilding,” according to Coach Heath, who also believes his girls’ team should be stronger than last season.

Teams to beat: Bow, Hopkinton, Pelham

Bow

Division: III

Coach: Amelia Boyd (7th year)

Last year: Boys: 4th; Girls: 3rd

Returning starters: Boys: Andrew Weckstein, sr.; Peter LaRiviere, sr.; Andrew Attorri, sr.; Girls: Allie Krause, sr.; Ashlie Tucker, sr.; Hannah Weckstein, sr.

Top newcomers: Girls: Haleigh Garrett, jr.; Sohani Demian, fr.; Olivia Krause, fr.

Outlook: The Bow girls bring just 11 runners to the trails, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive. Krause and Weckstein both finished in the top 21 of Division III last year and are back with their sights set on the Meet of Champions. “Our newcomers add a lot to our team dynamic and I am excited to see what the season brings!” Coach Boyd said. The Falcon boys return three seniors who all finished in the top 40 of D-III, led by Weckstein, who was second in the division and third in the Meet of Champions. Look for both teams to compete for a top-three finish again this year.

Team to beat: Girls: Hopkinton

Hillsboro-Deering

Division: III

Coach: Jed Dubreuil (8th year)

Last year: Boys: 27th; Girls: 12th

Returning starters: Boys: Andrew Roberge, jr.; Seth Johnson, jr.; Anthony Dupont, so. Girls: Aspen Dubuque, sr.; Hazel So, sr.; Samantha Fino, jr.; Maggie Girard, jr.; Alyssa Bailey, sr.; Khysha Negron, so.; Brianna Dumeny, jr.; Marygrace Bartoldus, sr.; Violet Minard, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: Andrew Edwards, Canes Monta, Logan Snow, Ben Robinson, Cole Long, Andrew Hultgren; Girls: Mae Hartford, Emma Veazie, Caitlin Walker, Helen Aubrey, Shannon Thomas, Karaline Pelchat, Alyssa Lachance, Allie Lester, Alexis Trexler, Sam Sawyer

Outlook: With plenty of new runners joining the Hillcats’ veterans, there’s lots of excitement in Hillsboro. The girls are looking to move up into the top 10, led by Girard, who finished 25th in D-III last year. “We have a great group of athletes with a lot of enthusiasm,” Coach Dubreuil said. “I’m looking forward to working with them all season.”

Teams to beat: Hopkinton

Hopkinton

Division: III

Coach: Rob Nadeau (1st year)

Last year: Boys: 1st; Girls: 1st

Returning starters: Boys: Chris Barnard, sr.; Cody Roberge, sr. Girls: Katie Irwin, sr.; Emily Calder, jr.; Sarah Nadeau, so.

Top newcomers: Boys: Dom Repucci, so. Girls: Maddie Clark, fr.

Outlook: The Hawks will be looking to maintain the status quo with a new coach in place. The girls have a set top four runners consisting of Irwin, Calder, Nadeau and middle school standout Clark in her first year with the varsity squad, with a number of girls vying for the 5th-7th spots on the roster. The boys return four upperclassmen, led by Barnard and Roberge, while sophomore Repucci will look to make some noise. Both squads expect to be competitive at Derryfield Park in October.

Kearsarge

Division: III

Coach: Peter Angus & Ernie Brake (11th year)

Last year: Boys: 8th; Girls: 9th

Returning starters: Boys: Carter Noordsij, jr.; Shane Corely, jr.; Ben Newbern, so. Girls: Briggie Carr, jr.; Marissa DeAngelis, jr.; Anna Cahill, jr.; Brie Burns, jr.; Victoria Botana, jr.

Top newcomers: Boys: Cameron Commerford, sr.; Keaton Hansen, sr.; Tim Lewis, fr.; Eric Scheuc, fr.; Andrew Shepard, fr.; Christian DiDominic, sr. Girls: Kelsey Dalton, jr.; Moriah McInturff, jr.; Annie Carr, fr.; Claudia Carl, jr.

Outlook: It’s a young group of runners taking to the trails for Kearsarge. The boys graduated their top four runners from last year’s division meet, and while the girls return five of the six who ran at states last year, all of them are still only juniors, led by Briggie Carr, who finished 12th in D-III last year. “We are a young team, but we will be competitive thanks to some great leadership from our veterans,” Coach Angus said.

Teams to beat: Derryfield, Bow, Hopkinton

Winnisquam

Division: III

Coach: Cristina Antecillo (1st year)

Last year: Boys: 17th; Girls: DNS

Returning starters: Boys: Zachary Baker, jr.; Mike Roy, sr.; Tyler Pake, jr.; Jake Bousquet, so.; Christian Smith, so. Girls: Tea Michaloski, so.; Caitlin Dumont, so.; Olivia Martinson, jr.; Sierra Dolan, so.

Outlook: The good news for the Winnisquam girls is that they should have enough runners to compete in the team standings this year, with 11 runners on the early-season roster. Half of those runners are back from competing in the division meet a year ago, giving the Bears some experienced young runners, as well. The boys are looking to improve upon last year’s 17th-place finish, led by Baker and Roy, two of five runners with division meet experience.

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