High school cross country: Concord teams, Coe-Brown boys seek to repeat titles in Saturday’s championships

Monitor staff
Published: 10/31/2020 12:18:02 PM

At the beginning of the cross country season, Coe-Brown coach Tim Cox said the goal of his team was to, “be the best team that they can be, no matter what that measure may be.”

Now, thanks to the work of the NHIAA Cross Country Committee and the Manchester Health Department, area teams will be able to compete in the NHIAA division championship races on Saturday at Derryfield Park.

Some things will be different. No spectators are allowed, although all six races will be available on a live stream at newhampshirecrosscountry.com/states. The races will be run in waves and there will be no awards ceremonies. But the level of competition – and the teams at the top of standings – probably won’t be different.

The nationally-ranked Division II Coe-Brown boys’ team, the undisputed No. 1 team in the state for the past two years, have an ‘A’ team that rolled to an undefeated season, besting the two-time defending D-I champions Concord and two-time defending D-II runner-up Oyster River three times each during the regular season.

The Coe-Brown girls – last year’s D-II runner-up – accomplished the same feat, surpassing Concord in the New Hampshire Cross Country rankings to the No. 1 spot,

The Bear boys have won five of the past six D-II titles and are led by senior Luke Tkaczyk and sophomore Aidan Cox, who went 1-2 in last year’s championship, although this year’s race will unlike any other.

The races are being divided into waves, with each team putting its No. 1 and No. 2 runners in the first wave, No. 3 and No. 4 runners in the second wave, No. 5 and No. 6 in the third wave and the No. 7 runner in the fourth wave. There will be 10 seconds in between the start of each wave.

Automatic timing will offset the difference in the clock time.

For most teams the strategy won’t change. The fastest runners from each team will race against each other, but for teams like Coe-Brown and Concord that have very deep rosters, it could have an impact on the race strategy.

“It’s definitely different,” Cox said. “It could be construed as a disadvantage at the beginning of it, but during the race there is a bridge that develops ... but we’re trying to make sure our (third and fourth wave) runners don’t go out too fast.”

Last year the Bear boys swept the top three spots in the division and placed all seven runners in the top 12.

Wyatt Mackey, Lars Hogne, Logan Mihelich, Carter Sylvester and Jamie Lano round out the rest of the Coe-Brown boys competing.

Oyster River, Windham, Sanborn and Hanover also have individual threats to win and are the likeliest teams to take the top five spots and advance to the Nov. 7 Meet of Champions.

Don’t sleep on the boys from Bow. The Falcons went undefeated in their regular season meets and have a strong No. 1 runner in senior Ben Neff, although they haven’t faced the top in the division yet this season.

On the girls’ side, Coe-Brown senior Addison Cox is one of the favorites for the individual title, along with Merrimack Valley junior Sophia Reynolds.

Mallory Taylor, Sheldyn Fisher, Bella Lemay, Samantha Lemay, Tessa Millette and Amelia Edmonds all provide the Bear girls with plenty of depth, although they will face a stiff challenge from defending champion Souhegan.

John Stark’s Brianna Langdon and Bow’s Maya and Delia Brochu are other area runners to watch, while Oyster River, Hanover and Kearsarge could finish in the top five.

The D-II races will be 12:15 p.m. (girls) and 1:05 p.m. (boys).

Division I

The Tide girls look to defend their title in the first race of the day at 9 a.m. and the Concord boys look to do the same at 9:50 a.m.

Both Concord squads are heading into Saturday with undefeated records except for losses against Coe-Brown.

Senior Eben Bragg has already broken 16 minutes on the 5K course at Derryfield Park, besting the 16:04.9 he ran last year when he finished third, and is one of the biggest threats to win the individual crown.

Brayden Kearns, Sam Hilts and Ryan Ciesluk are also individual threats near the top.

With powerhouses Keene and Pinkerton having their seasons cut short, the Londonderry boys, led by Ryan Young and Matthew Griffin, have the best shot to dethrone the Tide.

The Concord girls rely on a strong pack-running mentality. Sophomore Sophie Hopkints and junior Katherine Kennedy have established themselves as the top two, but lead a relatively tight pack that includes Molly Nyhan, Katie Watt, Alexis Christie, Alina Pincoske and Abby Goulas and gives the the Tide an edge over the other front-runners – Exeter and Bishop Guertin.

Division III

The Hopkinton girls entered last year’s D-III championship undefeated but lost to Kearsarge by four points. This year, the Hawks are in the same position, but look to finish the job.

The Hawks are led by junior Anna O’Reilly. Cailey Stockwell, Hannah Bennett, Cate Westbrook and Clara Locke round out the rest of the top five.

Bishop Brady’s Katie Palmateer and Abby Shagena are other area runners to watch.

With Kearsarge now competing in D-II, expect Campbell to be Hopkinton’s biggest competition.

The boys’ crown looks to be a toss up between Monadnock, Mascenic and Conant, with Hopkinton not far from the mix.

The Hawks are led by a freshmen Ben Daniels and Matt Clarner, and senior Michael Eggers-Emerson, the No. 2 runner from last year’s team that finished second to Mascenic for the title.

The top four teams from the girls’ race (3:30 p.m.) and the boys’ race (4:20 p.m.) will advance to the Meet of Champions.

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