Watt sweeps again, but Tide team streaks are broken at Nordic D-I championships

  • Concord Senior Katie Watt pushes through the snow during the classic portion of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Watt won both the classic and skate races for the third year in a row, but the Concord’s 12-year streaks of team titles for both the boys’ and girls’ teams were broken. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord Senior Eben Bragg heads towards the transition area during Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham where skiers switched from classic skis to skate skis. Bragg was 13th in the classic race and seventh in the skate. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord Nordic skier Katie Martel closes in on teammate Alexis Christie as they near the finish line of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord Senior Katie Watt sails out of the transition area after switching from classic to skate skis at Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Watt won both the classic and skate races for the third year in a row, but the Concord’s 12-year streaks of team titles for both the boys’ and girls’ teams were broken. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Bow Nordic skier Ben Neff leaves the start of  Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Each team took turns skiing the course to avoid overcrowding. Neff was 10th in the classic race and 15th in the skate race to help Bow, the smallest school at the 11-team event, finish second overall. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Bow Nordic skier Calen Smith heads to the transition area after completing the classic portion of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord skier Maggie Cooper pushes her way to the transition area at the end of the classic portion of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Copncord Nordic skier Katie Martel pushes towards the finish line at Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham.  JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord Nordic skier Mathea Graham races away fron the starting line of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham.  JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Bow Nordic skier Konrad Kremzer nearing the finish of the classic portion of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham.  JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • With the White Mountains in the background, Bow Nordic skier Oliver Dolcino nears the mid point of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham where he switched from classic to skate skis. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Bow Nordic skier Rachel Pelletier races away from the starting line of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championhip race at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Bow’s Michael Pelletier gains speed after leaving the starting line of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championships at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Pelletier was fourth in the classic race and sixth in the skate to lead Bow to a runner-up finish. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord Nordic skier Tyler Watt approaches the finish line of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championships at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Watt was third in the skate race and fifth in the classic. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • The Bow Nordic team, led by Michael Pelletier, orange hat, and Ben Neff, red hat, readies for the start of Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championships at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. Bow finished second as a team. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

  • Concord’s Tyler Watt crosses the finish line at Wednesday’s Division I Nordic championships at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. JONATHAN VAN FLEET—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 3/4/2021 5:02:23 PM

One streak continued, two others ended, the smallest school finished second and all of it felt just about right.

Concord High senior Katie Watt won the classic and skate races at the Division I Nordic ski championships for the third straight year on Wednesday at Great Glen Trails in Gorham. But the 12-year streaks of team titles for the Crimson Tide boys and girls, those were finally broken.

With the NHIAA rearranging Nordic from four divisions into two this season, it’s not a shock to see changes at the top. Hanover, which had been a D-II school, won both the boys’ and girls’ championships on Wednesday. Bow was in D-III last year, but petitioned up to D-I this year despite being the smallest school in the division, and took second on the boys’ side with 713 points to Hanover’s 761.

“That was the best race a Bow team has had in eight years,” Falcons coach Chris Naimie said, referring to the team’s D-III championship-winning race in 2013. “And in cross country the size of the school doesn’t make as dramatic a difference as the culture of the program when it comes to who has an advantage.”

Long-time D-II power Kennett was second on the girls’ side with 731.5 points to Hanover’s 756.6. The Concord girls were third with 717 and the Tide boys were fifth with 688.

“We went into it and we didn’t really know how were going to line up exactly with the other teams, but we knew that there was going to be some pretty strong competition,” Watt said. “I think kind of where we finished was what could have been expected if you looked at results of other races this year and how we stacked up. I think we were around where we were probably going to end up being.”

There were several changes to the event to help increase safety, like individual starts and masks on skiers. Masks were not required during the regular season (the student-athletes are, in essence, alone in the woods when they’re competing), but the NHIAA required them on Wednesday. The change worried Watt before the race, but she adapted.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Watt said. “If I focused on taking big strong breaths and my technique that helped me focus less on the mask.”

The race was run as a skiathlon, which means the competitors went around the track in their classic skis, crossed a finish line into a transition area that stopped there classic time and began their skate time, changed into their skate skis as fast as possible and got back on the track for their skate loop. The change in format, the masks, the individual start, none of it mattered to Watt. She was first in the classic race in 12:11.7, more than 10 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Morgan Nault from Manchester Memorial (12:22.4). Those two were at the top of the skate results as well with Watt finishing in 14:37.9 and Nault in 14:42.2.

“She had a great day,” Concord coach Sam Evans-Brown said of Watt, who will ski at Bates College in Maine next year.

The top four finishers from each team are the scoring skiers, and the Tide girls also got points from Mathea Graham (10th skate, 17th classic), Katherine Martel (20th classic, 21st skate), Maggie Cooper (15th classic) and Alexis Christie (18th skate). The top 20 skiers in each race qualified for next week’s Meet of Champions at Proctor Academy in Andover, so Graham, Martel, Cooper and Christie will all be joining Watt at the MOC.

Bow’s Michael Pelletier will also be at the MOC after he finished fourth overall in the classic race and sixth in the skate to lead the undersized Falcons to their runner-up finish. Bow petitioned up to D-I in large part so its Alpine team could stay in D-II and defend its 2020 title (skiing programs are linked for classification purposes), but clearly the Nordic team belonged with rest of the D-I field on Wednesday as five of Bow’s six boys qualifying for the MOC and Rachel Pelletier, Michael’s sister, finished seventh in the girls’ classic race and ninth in the skate race.

Ben Neff took 10th in the classic race and 15th in the skate for the Falcons, who also got great days from Oliver Dolcino (17th classic, 18th skate), Calen Smith (18th classic, 17th skate) and Konrad Kremzner (22nd classic, 20th skate). That means Bow will send six skiers to the MOC after sending none last year.

The training for that remarkable improvement all came on small loop on the lacrosse field behind Bow High.

“That was the only place we had snow, and instead of lamenting the fact that it wasn’t great terrain and conditions we just went out there and went around and around,” Naimie said. “These boys would keep track of how far they had skied every day and if they hadn’t yet skied 20 kilometers, they would ski longer. I was just thinking about it after the meet today and I’ll bet we’ve got kids on our team who put in over 200 miles on that 300-meter course.”

Naimie also credited assistant coach Stuart Kremzner, Konrad’s father and a former Concord High head coach, with picking out the perfect wax for his team’s skis.

“The job he did that was phenomenal, it really was,” Naimie said.

That wax also helped Barrie Guertin (37th classic, 29th skate), Sophia Valpey (43rd classic, 43rd skate), Catherine Maurer (48th classic) and Lauren McKean (39th skate), who all scored for the Bow girls’ team.




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