Cross Country Meet of Champions: Concord boys win first team title since 1987

Monitor staff
Sunday, November 05, 2017

NASHUA – For the second weekend in a row, the Concord boys’ cross country team exorcized demons and made history.

Concord dominated the Meet of Champions race at Mines Fall at Nashua South, placing four runners in the top 12 and setting a meet record for the best average time of top five scoring runners en route to qualifying for New Englands.

The Coe-Brown girls’ team (third) and boys’ team (sixth) were the other local teams to qualify for the New England Championships in Belfast, Maine, on Nov. 11.

Forest MacKenzie (third, 15:32), Eli Boesch-Dining (sixth, 15:42), Ollie Spencer (10th, 15:50), Matt O’Brien (12th, 15:55) and Ryan Devine (30th, 16:24) led Concord on its record-setting day, clocking an average time of 15:53.92. The Tide’s 51 points, easily defeated their second-place rivals from Nashua North (110) to give Concord its first MOC team title since 1987.

David Cook (33rd, 16:27) and Nate Nichols (46th, 16:39) were key in displacing top runners for other teams and rounded out the Crimson Tide’s runners.

“The poetic thing about this season is that last year we were second at (Division I) states to Pinkerton. This year Pinkerton was second to us. Last year at MOC we were second to North. This year North was second to us,” said Concord Head Coach Tristan Black-Ingersoll. “These other teams are still running strong. It was what makes the success meaningful to us. They didn’t graduate (their top runners). Their top guys are still there.”

Nashua North’s David Vorbach (15:30) and Max Ireland (15:37) finished first and second, with Vorbach running a blistering 4:48 opening mile, but MacKenzie, Boesch-Dining and Spencer patiently led the main pack of runners through mile one and gradually pulled away throughout the race to finish in the top 10.

The same trio finished 10th, 21st (Spencer) and 26th (Boesch-Dining) last year.

“It was the same strategy (we used at the D-I race),” Black-Ingersoll said. “You’ve got to run at your own level and I think the strategy was great. I think the fact that we set that top five average record is indicative that you couldn’t have asked them to run any faster than they could. You can’t control what other people do. You can only control what you do.”

“Initially I was pretty rattled about not winning,” Tide junior MacKenzie said. “But when I saw where my team was ... you can’t be upset with that. I couldn’t be happier ... It feels like we’re on top of the world.”

Keene (138), Oyster River (140) and Londonderry (154) rounded out the top five, with Coe-Brown (157) clinching the sixth and final qualifying team slot.

Merrimack Valley’s David Reynolds finished fourth in 15:42 to qualify. The top 25 finishers in both races also advanced.

The Coe-Brown girls scored 137 points to finish third. Souhegan (105) and Pinkerton (110) were the top two teams, while Oyster River (141), Bishop Guertin (151) and Merrimack (186) are the other girls’ teams joining the Bears at New Englands.

Kearsarge’s Mya Dube (13th, 18:26), this year’s D-III champion, and Concord freshman Morgane Orcutt (16th, 18:27), the third-fastest freshman in the race, also qualified.

For the Coe-Brown girls’ qualifying for New Englands was a strong possibility, but even so, Coaches Tim Cox and Brent Tkaczyk were somewhat surprised with a top three finish.

“I honestly thought we were fifth,” Coach Cox said. “They ran great. Addison getting us that single digit finish was huge, but we really did preach this week that every place counts.”

Freshman Addison Cox, the second-fastest freshman in the race, came in seventh in 18:14 to lead the Bears, followed by Abby O’Connor (29th, 18:52) and Elly McDonough (32nd, 19:09), but it freshman Ella Malone (46th, 19:34), who had the best kick down the home stretch.

“(She) passed several runners, especially in the last 100 meters. That made the difference,” Coach Cox said.

Sarah Dupuis (62nd, 19:53), Autumn Graham (82nd, 20:18) and Raven Barnes (83rd, 20:22) rounded out Coe-Brown’s runners.

For the Bear boys, senior Evan Tanguay improved from last year’s 28th-place finish, coming in seventh in 15:45.

Freshmen Luke Tkaczyk (25th, 16:16) and Wyatt Mackey (27th, 16:18) had key finishes that snuck Coe-Brown in that final slot.

Gavyn Lewis (57th, 16:45), Dawson Dubois (76th, 16:57), Logan Mihelich (100th, 17:33) and Sam Patteson (132nd, 18:45) also ran well for the Bears.

“They just continue to impress and pick each other up,” Coach Cox said.

With Tanguay as the only returner, the coaching staff wasn’t sure about how the young and inexperience boys’ squad would do in D-II, let alone at MOC.

“They handled it wonderfully,” Coach Cox said. “Nobody was overwhelmed by the scene. And I don’t expect them to be next week either.”