Winning doesn’t get old for Coe-Brown
Coe-Brown's Elisabeth Danis hugs her teammate Brooke Laskowsky after completing the Division II state championship cross country race in second and sixth place respectively on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Coe-Brown won first place as a team.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
Coe-Brown's Elisabeth Danis charges past Oyster River's Meagan Doody to cross the finish line second during the Division II state cross country championships on October 26, 2013 at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Danis and the Coe-Brown girls finished in first as a team.
(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
The Coe-Brown cross country program is no stranger to success. But luckily for the Bears, winning never gets old. Just ask Coaches Brent Tkaczyk and Tim Cox, or senior Jessie Carney, who have won four straight Division II championship titles. Or Jeremy Brassard, who repeated as the Division II individual champion.
But whether it was the girls’ New England-bound team, or whether it was the boys’ team just trying to earn the right to race another week, the energy surrounding the Coe-Brown tent after yesterday’s Division II championship was unmistakably an energy of accomplishment. The girls dominated, placing five runners in the top nine and seven in the top 15, easily winning their fourth straight title. Senior Brassard ran his personal-best time at Derryfield Park, finishing the 5-kilometer course in 15:51 for the individual repeat and to lead his team to third place, helping the Bears qualify for the Meet of Champions for the first time in three years.
The Bears’ score of 26 points easily gave the Coe-Brown girls the win over Hollis-Brookline (second, 101), Hanover (third, 124), Souhegan (fourth, 131), Oyster River (fifth, 149) and St. Thomas (sixth, 162), the other five teams to qualify for the Meet of Champions. John Stark (12th), Merrimack Valley (16th) and Pembroke (17th) also competed in the 20-team field.
Oyster River (74 points) won the boys’ title with Souhegan (89), Coe-Brown (109), Portsmouth (133), Goffstown (151) and Lebanon (190) rounding out the top six. Merrimack Valley (eighth, 209) just missed out on qualifying for the Meet of Champions. Pembroke (18th) and John Stark (20th) also competed. The top 25 individual finishers in each race also qualified for MOCs with Keegan Hanks of Merrimack Valley (18th, 17:01) the lone local qualifier.
“This just doesn’t get old,” Tkaczyk said. “It’s getting more fun.”
Despite having loftier goals, such as winning the New England championship in two weeks, the Bears didn’t underestimate the Division II competition and left everything they had on the course.
“My coaches told me to go out and give everything I had today,” said sophomore Elisabeth Danis, who finished second overall. “They really believed in me and they said if it comes down to it and I can win it, then go for it. I’m happy with how I raced today … I’m just ecstatic with where I finished.
Danis (18:31) and the defending champion, teammate Hannah Parker (fourth, 19:11), were in the lead pack from the starting gun with Oyster River’s Maegan Doody (third, 18:32) slightly in front and eventual champion, Emma Newton of Hollis-Brookline (18:29), slightly behind. But after two miles, Doody and Danis pulled away from the pack and Newton caught both of them off guard with a burst of speed with less than a half mile to go.
Meanwhile, Carney (fifth, 19:13), Brooke Laskowsky (sixth, 19:24), Meg Scannell (ninth, 19:39), Katie Scannell (11th, 19:58) and Mary Fowler (15th, 20:15) ran great races to put the entire Coe-Brown squad in the top 15, besting even last year’s dominating performance when the Bears all finished in the top 24.
“This is the best team we’ve ever had,” Tkaczyk said. “We’re very proud of them, they race like warriors, they love to compete. This is what they’ve been waiting for … we’re hoping we can compete well at MOCs and New Englands.”
Danis agreed, adding that “as a team it’s definitely a great start to what we want to do this season. It definitely reflects all our hard work and as a team we’re really happy with where we are. It puts us in a great position to continue on to MOCs, hopefully New Englands, hopefully regionals this year.”
Carney, a member of all four championship teams, said that this year’s squad “is more like a family. There’s a lot more energy. … This is a great way to start off the championship season.”
Even though they appear to be the favorites at next weekend’s Meet of Champions and won the elite division race at the Manchester Invitational earlier this year, don’t expect the Bears to rest on their laurels. There is still work to be done.
“Every race we are in we’re trying to win it. We’re not saving anything. We’ve designed our training, we’re hoping … we want to be at our best in a few weeks,” Tkaczyk said. “So yeah, we’ve got a week ahead of us that is designed to keep these girls sharp. We’re looking forward to competing at the Meet of Champions. At New Englands, we went from third (in 2011), to second (in 2012), so … we’re hoping. That’s all we can do is go and compete.”
For the boys, on the other hand, the prospect of running at the Meet of Champions was not as certain, but not a stretch, either, and was a goal that Brassard and teammate and best friend Lucas Fisher had been working toward for three years. Fisher ran a personal-record time of 16:35, good for ninth place overall.
“Right after my sophomore year, that was the first year we didn’t make it, and that was our goal since then. Me and Jeremy tried to get the boys to train as hard as we could, to try to get back in this position. And now after our senior year it all came together. It was perfect. It was a lot of work, but we did it,” Fisher said.
The effort of Fisher and the rest of the team that included freshman Davio Deluca (27th, 17:14), Alex Prevatt (34th, 17:23), a JV runner-up until a few weeks ago, Jared Nelson (38th, 17:32), Jake Scarponi (51st, 17:54) and Zach Flanagan (54th, 17:56) inspired Brassard to his victory. Brassard executed his usual race strategy on this course, to sit in fourth or fifth going up the McIntyre ski hill and to catch the leading runners at the top, but he had to battle with Souhegan’s Eli Moskowitz (second, 16:05) most of the way.
“He fell apart a little bit at the door (on the final half mile of the course) and then I tried to capitalize on that. When we turned that corner, I could see that I had a gap, so I tried to lay it down one more time,” Brassard said. “I was hurting a lot, and I was thinking about, I know it sounds really corny, but I knew that as I was hurting, my teammates were hurting just as much. My coach was yelling, ‘Hey, J, you’re doing a good job, your buddy is doing a good job, they’re fighting.”
“That (third-place) was best case scenario coming into this,” Tkaczyk said. “It was a true team effort. Our fourth guy struggled a little bit and the fifth guy picked up the slack and our sixth and seventh (runners) were right there. That’s what we’ve been missing the last couple of years, is that team. It’s not about that one individual, it’s about team, and that’s what these guys were able to do. … We’re incredibly proud of the entire team.”
Other local scoring runners in the girls’ race included Madeline Ishak (27th, 20:56), Hazel Johnstone (37th, 21:19), Hailey Nase (39th, 21:23), Hannah Erskine (82nd, 23:13) and Rebecca Kuzma (112th, 25:04) for John Stark; Raquel Gelinas (41st, 21:24), Cassie Owens (46th, 21:32), Abby Davis (104th, 24:06), Kelsey Belanger (108th, 24:44) and Jessica Belanger (114th, 25:09) for MV; and Mariah Mitchell (70th, 22:34), Jayla Decker (86th, 23:22), Nicole Pearl (94th, 23:45), Alison Fischer (100th, 24:03) and Briana Walsh (106th, 24:34) for Pembroke.
On the boys’ side, Hanks, Brendan Polichronopoulos (36th, 17:27), Walker John (42nd, 17:36), Brandon Richardson (55th, 17:56) and Carter Saltmarsh (58th, 18:00) scored for MV; John Sanborn (33rd, 17:21), Kam Anderson (88th, 18:53), Steven Abbott (98th, 19:14), Jason Schoeller (113th, 19:43) and Ryan Jaques (114th, 19:45) led Pembroke; and Robert Kram (101st, 19:16), Joseph Boucher (119th, 20:18), Noah Payuer (132nd, 21:16), Zachary Lanctot (135th, 22:33) and Tyler DeStefano (136th, 24:16) scored for John Stark.