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Season previews for local high school cross country teams

  • Merrimack Valley’s Sophia Reynolds (169) battles eventual winner Kate Wiser (210) from Pomperaug (Conn.) High School at the 84th New England High School Interscholastic Cross Country Championship at Derryfield Park in Manchester last Novemeber. Reynolds, now a sophomore at MV, won the 2018 Division II championship and Meet of Champions races before finishing runner-up at the New England meet. GEOFF FORESTER file / Monitor staff

Published: 9/2/2019 10:39:40 PM

Division: I

Coaches: Boys – Zach Procek (1st year); Girls – Ally Davis (5th year)

Last year: Boys – D-I champions; Girls – 3rd

Top returners: Boys – David Cook, sr.; Ryan Devine, sr.; Eben Bragg, jr.; Brayden Kearns, jr.

Girls – Morgane Orcutt, jr.; Katie Watt, jr.; Abby Goulas, so.; Katherine Kennedy, so.

Top newcomers: Boys – Ryan Ciesluk, jr.; Martin Vose O’Sullivan, sr.; Sam Hilts, so.

Girls – Molly Nyhan, fr.; Sophie Hopkins, fr.; Alexis Christie, fr.; Gracie McHugh, fr.

Outlook: Boys – The Tide will be good, but the question is how good. Concord graduated tons of talent, led by Forest MacKenzie (two-time defending D-I champion who is now running at the University of New Hampshire), Aidan O’Hearn (also running at UNH) and Eli Boesch-Dining, and the team has a new head coach. That being said, the Tide boasted the deepest team in the state for the last couple of years and have four of last year’s top seven returning.

“We have a strong team coming into this season,” Procek said. “We have several more talented athletes coming up to fill competitive spots. We should have a successful season and be in good standing for D-I and MOC.

Girls – The Tide surprised its competition by finishing third in 2018 with a young squad, and Concord hopes to continue to build on that success with its experience.

“We were a young team last year and we’re still a young team this year,” coach Davis said. “But this year, we have more experience and have a better idea of what we’re capable of.

“We’d like to do better than we did last year, and we’re working hard to make it to New Englands this year as a team. I have a lot of talented girls who are very dedicated and hard working. I think we’re going to be very strong this year. We have a lot of depth and a lot of heart.”

Teams to beat: Boys – Winnacunnet. Girls – Exeter, Pinkerton, Manchester Central, Salem


Division: II

Coaches: Boys – Katie McDonald (4th year); Girls – Barb Higgins (6th year)

Last year: Boys – 7th; Girls – 15th

Top returners: Boys – Colin Lessard, sr.; Gabe Neff, sr.; Ben Neff, jr.; Matt Cardarelli, jr.; Justin Murphy, jr.; Dylan MacArthur, so.

Girls – Tory Burke, sr.; Leah Boisvert, so.; Autumn Boisvert, jr.; Louisa Carey, jr.; Kate Watt, sr.; Natalia Rivera, sr.; Cassie Murphy, so.; Katie Lessard, so.

Top newcomers: Boys – Adem Aricanli, so.

Girls – Maya Brochu, fr.; Delia Brochu, fr.; Susanna Zahn, fr.; Madeline Lessard, sr.

Outlook: Boys – After missing out on a trip to Meet of Champions by one spot, the Falcons have that set as a clear goal for this season. Bow lost half of its varsity team to graduation, but has the depth to be competitive in D-II.

“Bow is fortunate to have a large team and deep talent,” McDonald said. “We were disappointed to miss MOC last year, and we’re hopeful and working hard to correct that in 2019.”

Girls – The Falcons finished in the bottom half of the standings in their first season back in D-II after several years in D-III, but coach Higgins feels good about the impact a talented freshman class will have on the team and Bow’s depth with a roster of 47 strong.

“Our freshman class is outstanding and this influx of talent will bring out the best in our returning varsity runners,” Higgins said. “I cannot predict (Bow’s position) as D-II is still new for us.”

Teams to beat: Boys – Sanborn, ConVal, Souhegan; Girls – Merrimack Valley, Hanover, Lebanon, Coe-Brown


Division: II

Coaches: Patrick Scott (6th year), Christine Anderson (4th year)

Last year: Boys – 15th; Girls – 11th

Top Returners: Boys – Jack Hagan, sr.; Marcus McFall, sr.; Noah Sigrist, sr.; Reece Montague, jr.

Girls – Madison McDonald, jr.; Libby Barnes, jr.; Grace Caplan, so.; Carina Keirstead, so.; Brianna Langdon, so.; Katie Palmateer, jr.

Top newcomers: Boys – Devin Patterson, so.; Jack Barnes, fr.; Wyatt Sohl, fr.

Girls – Kamryn Chretien, fr.

Outlook: Boys – The Generals need to rebuild their roster having lost several seniors that had been the core of the varsity team for years.

“The team has a lot of potential to improve and grow so we’ll take it one meet at a time,” Scott said. “We have a couple new runners that will make an immediate impact on the team and form a nucleus for the future.”

Girls – The John Stark girls lost most of last year’s top seven and leadership to graduation, but are still in a good position to improve on last year’s 11th-place finish with three out of the top four runners at the D-II meet returning (Langdon, McDonald and Barnes).

“The young runners that remain are a fun, dedicated bunch that have made great strides over the past year,” Scott said. “We’ll try to improve with each experience this season, aim high and maybe surprise some folks.”

Teams to beat: Boys – Coe-Brown, Oyster River, Sanborn; Girls – Coe-Brown, Oyster River


Division: II

Coaches: Dave Irving (17th year), Sandu Rebenciuc (5th year)

Last year: Boys – 8th; Girls – 8th

Top returners: Boys – Ethan Dodenhoff, jr.; Christian Oglesby, sr.; Isaac Linscott, so.

Girls – Sophia Reynolds, so.; Emma York, sr.; Madisyn Garrity, sr.; MacNeill Matthews, jr.

Top newcomers: Boys – Mark Mercier, fr.; Marshall Carey-Matthews, fr.; Jack Colvin, fr.

Girls – Sophia Rebenciuc, fr.; Samantha Kimball, fr.; Beatrice Dickinson, fr.; Violet Webb, fr.; Carlie Saltmarsh, jr.; Cassidy Considine, sr.; Nicole Considine, sr.; Theresa Irving, sr.

Outlook: Boys – With the graduation David Reynolds (last year’s D-II individual champion) and Matt Reynolds, as well as four of the top seven runners, this will be a rebuilding year for the Pride boys.

“We do have a good number of enthusiastic newcomers, and a couple veterans have had very good summers of training, particularly Ethan and Elisha Dodenhoff,” Irving said. “This team will grow and learn as the season progresses, and it will be fun to see the evolution through the season.”

Girls – The Pride only return four runners from last year’s team, but one of them is Sophia Reynolds, the defending D-II and MOC champion and New England runner-up, while York, Garrity and Matthews were the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 7 runners, respectively. MV also has a “historically large” roster, according to Irving, bolstered by 15 new additions to this year’s squad, and puts the Pride in a good position to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish.

“We are excited about this year, as we have ample depth, something that has been lacking with the small teams of recent years,” Irving said. “We have a group of about 10 runners who will all be competing for a varsity spot, and a strong leader in senior Emma York.”

Teams to beat: Boys – Coe-Brown, Oyster River, Hanover; Girls – Coe-Brown, Oyster River, Souhegan, Hanover


Division: III

Coach: Bill Heath (18th year)

Last year: Boys – 12th

Top returners: Boys – Oscar Miller, sr.; Max Brown, jr.; Charlie Miller, so.; Conor Donovan, sr.

Top newcomers: Boys – Colby Despres, fr.; Nick Steigmeyer, fr.

Girls: Abby Shagena, jr.; Muging Wen, sr.

Outlook: With most of last year’s roster back and numbers up, the Giants are in a good position to improve on last season’s results. The girls do not have enough runners to field a full team, but have two female runners on the roster after not having any last year.

Teams to beat: Boys – Mascenic, Hopkinton, Winnisquam, Kearsarge


Division: III

Coach: Rob Rothe (4th year)

Last year: Boys – 6th; Girls – D-III champions

Top returners: Boys – Shepyrd Murdough, sr.; Zach Brewer, sr.; Theodore Mollano, jr.; Michael Eggers-Emerson, jr.; Nick Simpkins, jr.; Hayden Lynch, jr.; Parker Wuellenweber, so.

Girls – Emma Rothe, sr.; Sydney Stockwell, sr.; Lily Sabol, sr.; Cate Westbrook, jr.; Cailey Stockwell, so.; Anna O’Reilly, so.

Top newcomers: Girls: Hanna Bennett, fr.; Clara Locke, fr.

Outlook: Boys: The Hawks returning runners are looking stronger than they were last season, but with no incoming freshmen on the team, “it will be up to (the returners) to work together to form a strong and cohesive unit with some depth,” coach Rothe said. “They work well as a small team and have some great potential to move forward in the rankings.”

Girls – The defending champion Hawks didn’t lose any seniors from last year’s team, returning the Stockwell sisters, Sydney (fifth in D-III last year) and Cailey (16th), Emma Rothe (10th) and O’Reilly (12th). Add in some strong newcomers and the Hawks seem to have what it takes to defend their crown.

“They work well as a tight-knit team and have a strong JV contingency as well,” coach Rothe said.

Teams to beat: Boys – Mascenic, Campbell; Girls – Campbell, Kearsarge, Portsmouth Christian


Division: III

Coaches: Peter Angus and Ernie Brake (17th year)

Last year: Boys – 3rd; Girls – 3rd

Top returners: Boys – Ed Stowell, sr.; Gavin Garzia, so.; Chris Stanchfield, so.

Girls – Mya Dube, sr.; Jenna Bears, sr.; Cassie Gilbert, jr.; Ellie Madigan, sr.; Marla Richer, sr.

Outlook: Boys: The Cougars lost most of last year’s team, the notable exception being Stowell, who was the team’s No. 2 runner in 2018.

“We will be looking to reload from a heavy loss due to graduation,” Angus said. “Our numbers are strong and the work ethic is there.”

Girls – The Cougars are fielding their largest team in school history, including defending D-III champion Dube and five of last year’s top seven runners.

“This group has a ton of potential and will surprise people,” Angus said.

Teams to beat: Boys – Mascenic, Campbell, Trinity; Girls – Hopkinton, Campbell

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