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Coe-Brown, Concord, Hopkinton aim for repeat XC titles in 2020

  • Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox charges to the finish line at last year’s Meet of Champions at Mines Falls Park in Nashua. Cox won both the individual D-II and MOC titles, while the Bears swept D-II. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file

  • Concord’s John Murphy runs for the finish line at the 2020 Meet of Champions at Mines Falls Park in Nashua. The Tide have won four straight D-I team titles. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file

  • Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox runs to a state record time of 14:58.8 at the 2020 Meet of Champions at Mines Falls Park in Nashua. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript file

  • Concord’s Brayden Kearns and Eben Bragg lead the pack on a snow-covered Derryfield Park course at last year’s Division I championships in Manchester. Bragg won the individual title and Kearns finished second to lead the Tide to its fourth consecutive title. Allie St. Peter / Monitor file

  • Concord’s Katherine Kennedy crosses the finish line in third place at last year’s Division I cross country championship at Derryfield Park in Manchester. The Tide boys and girls swept D-I team titles in 2020. Allie St. Peter / Monitor file

  • Hopkinton’s Anna O’Reilly runs down the final stretch of the 5K course at Derryfield Park in Manchester. O’Reilly finished seventh, the top runner for the Hawks as they won the D-III girls’ team title. Courtesy of NewHampshireCrossCountry.com

  • Hopkinton’s Cailey Stockwell races to the finish line at last year’s Division III championship race at Derryfield Park in Manchester. Stockwell finished eighth, helping the Hawks win the D-III title. Courtesy of NewHampshireCrossCountry.com

Monitor staff
Published: 8/29/2021 5:09:50 PM

Capital area cross country teams won five of six team titles last year, while three local athletes won individual glory.

But after all the fastest teams and competitors across all three NHIAA divisions contended for the win at the 2020 Meet of Champions, it was Coe-Brown Northwood Academy that came away with three of the four titles.

Aidan Cox – now in his junior year – set a Division II individual record (15:15.4 at Manchester’s Derryfield Park) and Meet of Champions record in 14:58.8 – the first 5K run in under 15 minutes in New Hampshire high school history.

The Black Bears’ male squad easily took victory of the title, while Aidan’s sister, Addison Cox, won the MOC girls’ individual title and her Coe-Brown teammates were just 12 points away from making it a 4-for-4 sweep.

The Bears are good. Really good. That’s how it was last year, how is has been for the last decade, and – as of now – how it looks to be continuing.

Senior Lars Hogne (fifth in D-II in 2020) and sophomore Jamie Lano (18th) are the only other two returning to the Bears’ top seven, but the New Hampshire cross country preseason rankings (voted on by NHIAA coaches) still firmly place Coe-Brown in the top spot.

It’s hard to bet against a team that’s won six of the last seven titles, (second place in 2017) and have been ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation.

CBNA’s established cross country program has been headed by veteran coaching duo Brent Tkaczyk and Tim Cox for 22 years. Coaches as well as parents, Tkaczyk and Cox both have sons of their own running on the squad this year. Tyler Tkaczyk and Aidan Cox are both entering their junior year and third season with the Bears.

Addison, the coach’s daughter who is entering her freshman cross country season at UNH, was a leader of the Bears’ girls squad for much of her high school career at Coe-Brown. This year, the girls’ team has a younger roster than seen in the recent past.

“The team has great potential if they can come together, organize, and lead and support one another,” coaches Cox and Tkaczyk said.

Amelia Edmonds (16th in D-II last year) is the only senior. Juniors Mallory Taylor (sixth) and Sheldyn Fisher (eighth) and sophomore Bella Lemay (12th) return, while freshmen Anna Bergeron and Emma Larson, junior Natalie Sicard and sophomore Kassidy Taylor are new to the top group.

That being said, the Lady Bears have rebuilt before – and quickly – and they’ve never missed a beat, with eight D-II titles and three runner-up plaques in the last 11 years.

As for the Bear boys’ group of talented runners, sophomores Max Lemay and Liam McLean, as well as junior Nikhil Chavda will be looking to step up in larger roles this year.

“We are excited to build a new team with many new faces,” coaches Cox and Tkaczyk said. “Many of the boys on the varsity team have been working hard for years preparing for this opportunity.”

CONCORD

Coaches: Zach Procek (boys, 3rd year), Ally Davis (girls, 7th year)

2020:Boys: D-I champions; Girls: D-I champions

Outlook: “While the returning athletes have a lot of individual goals, we are hoping to win states again and go to the New England meet as a team,” coach Davis said.

The Tide has high expectations for itself, but the rest of the state does too. The Concord girls were No. 1 in the New Hampshire Cross Country preseason rankings, while the Tide boys (four straight D-I titles) came in at No. 2.

The Concord girls only graduated one member from last year’s championship team and return seniors Katherine Kennedy (third in D-I in 2020), Abby Goulas (19th) and Quincy Bolduc; juniors Molly Nyhan (10th), Alexis Christie (24th) and Gracie McHugh; and sophomore Alina Pincoske (sixth).

Sophomores Ava Philbrook and Chloe Gudas, and freshman Shelly Smith are the top newcomers to the squad and give the Tide girls plenty of depth.

The Concord boys graduated defending individual champion Eben Bragg (now running for D-I Stony Brook University), but return seniors Zachary Hooper (eighth in D-I), Sam Hilts (10th), and John Murphy (13th), and boasts better depth than any team in the state except Coe-Brown.

BOW

Coaches: Kate Kretschmer (boys, 1st year), Alli DeStefano (girls, 2nd year)

2020:Boys: did not compete at championship due to COVID-19; Girls: 9th in D-II

Outlook: The Falcon boys were not able to compete in the D-II championship last year after a promising regular season. Seniors Michael Pelletier and Connor Bernard, junior Jake Westenberg, and sophomores Owen Miller and Alden Betterley return from last year’s top group, while Bow gets a huge boost from the return of its top runner – senior Adem Aricanli who missed all of last season with an injury – and senior Lincoln Routhier, a former football player who “is showing tremendous strength on the trails,” according to coach Kretschmer.

Sophomore Aiden Ciminesi and freshman Cooper Krause are also showing potential and could fill in the seventh spot.

“The boys are doing a solid job adjusting to a new coach and program culture,” coach Kretschmer said. “All of the guys have set individual goals and, as a team, have hopes of competing with the top teams in the division and qualifying for MOC.”

The Falcon girls improved from their 15th-place finish in 2019 and return senior Rose Anderson, and juniors Maya Brochu, Delia Brochu, Emily Kiah and Susanna Zahn from last year’s state meet.

JOHN STARK

Coach: Patrick Scott (8th year)

2020:Boys: 9th in D-II; Girls: 11th in D-II

Outlook: The Generals are led on the boys’ side by a strong sophomore class – Eli Lemire, Seth Marquardt and Alexander Keirstead – and have senior Devin Patterson and junior Jackson Barnes returning.

“A eager group of freshmen (Joel Douzanis and Logan Confer) join last year’s group of promising sophomores,” coach Scott said. We’ll be led by two of those talented sophomores up front and will work hard as a group to back them up as the season progresses.”

Seniors Brianna Langdon and Grace Caplan, sophomore Izabel Korbet and freshman Amanda Leonard are the top runners for the Stark girls.

“We hope to build the team back up on the sophomore class of runners who joined us last year,” coach Scott said. “After a year of running cross country and track, they return much stronger and knowledgeable. It might take some time to gel. but this team has the ability to be competitive.”

Teams to beat: Coe-Brown

KEARSARGE

Coach: Justin Garzia (1st year)

2020:Boys: 8th in D-II; Girls: 4th in D-II

Outlook: With the return of sophomores Molly Ellison and Amelia Lefebvre, juniors Madelin Prak and Kylin Frenkiewich, and senior Katelyn Harvey, plus the addition of freshman Ellie Wimer, the Cougar girls have a “strong returning core of varsity runners that should provide a strong performance in Division II,” according to coach Garzia.

The Kearsarge boys hope to improve on last year’s finish and return senior Gavin Garzia and juniors Matt Berns and Gareth Richer, while adding sophomore Quinton Cloutier and freshmen Soeren Baughman and Ben Anderson to the mix.

Teams to beat: Coe-Brown, Hanover

MERRIMACK VALLEY

Coach: Dave Irving (19th year)

2020: Boys: 11th in D-II; Girls: 13th in D-II

Outlook: Senior Sophia Reynolds (2018 champion), juniors Samantha Kimball (11), and Victoria Hildreth, and sophomore Alyssa Ishii lead the girls’ team.

“We have a large group of incoming ninth graders who are eager to run and will see great improvement over the season,” coach Irving said. “With All-State returner Sophia Reynolds and Samantha Kimball leading the way, the team should see growth and improvement with every race.”

Among that strong group of freshmen are Kendra Davidson, Madison Geddes, Jessica Thompson-Weeks, Julianna Blaisdell, Sofia Guzman and Lydia Likas.

The Pride boys have a strong junior class that includes Marshall Carey-Matthews, Oliver Forsha, Mark Mercier and Jack Colvin from last year’s team.

Teams to beat: Coe-Brown, Hanover, Souhegan

PEMBROKE

Coach: Lance Adams (4th year)

2020:Boys: 16th in D-II; Girls: 16th in D-II

Outlook: The Spartans are continuing to improve (the boys finished 19th and the girls didn’t score in 2019) and have returning top runners in Ben Dugas (junior) and Charlotte Corbitt (senior). Junior Colby Despres ran for Bishop Brady last year and finished 30th in D-III and is a strong addition to the boys’ team.

“We’re looking forward to a great season,” said coach Adams, who has been with Pembroke Academy for 12 seasons (eight as an assistant).

Team to beat: Coe-Brown

BISHOP BRADY

Coach: Bill Heath (20th year)

2020:Boys: 11th; Girls: 9th

Outlook: Seniors Charlie Miller and John Horangic, and sophomores Brody Palmateer and Robert Merola return from last year’s D-III boys’ championship race, and get a boost from the addition of freshman Jorge Guerra. The girls only have four runners, but return senior Katie Palmateer, who was fifth last year, sophomore Alyssa Lavalley and sophomore Olivia Blanchard

Teams to beat: Mascenic, Hopkinton, Campbell

HILLSBORO-DEERING

Coach: Steve Cousens (5th year)

2020: Not enough runners to score in D-III

Outlook: “The Hillcats are young with tremendous potential,” coach Cousens said. “Members of the boys’ team took it upon themselves to train hard over the summer and will have some competitive individuals who look to post increasingly fast times.”

The boys don’t have enough runners to score, but return junior Logan Irwin and sophomore Greg LeBlanc, and are joined by sophomore Michael Denslow.

The girls’ team – sophomore Signy Burke-Smith and freshmen Makayla Vincent, Alexis Rancloes and Lexi Harris – are all new to cross country and “they look to keep improving and provide the foundation for a strong team over the next few years,” Cousens said.

HOPKINTON

Coach: Rob Rothe (6th year)

2020:Boys: 4th in D-III; Girls: D-III champions

Outlook: Seniors Anna O’Reilly (seventh in D-III) and Cailey Stockwell (eighth), and juniors Clara Locke (14th) and Hannah Bennett (22nd) return from last year’s girls’ champion team, while adding freshman Shaylee Murdough – last year’s middle school Tri-County champion.

The Hopkinton girls have finished in the top two in D-III in each of the the last four years, also claiming a title in 2018.

The Hawk boys are led by returning sophomores Ben Daniels (seventh), Matt Clarner (13th) and Conrad Mollano.

“The girls look to remain strong this year, returning most of their top five,” coach Rothe said. “They lose only one to graduation, but gain a promising newcomer in Shaylee Murdough who has already fit in nicely with the top group. They have always been great pack runners and this year they look to continue that. Our roster also continues to have some good depth with several girls not far from the top five. The boys’ roster took quite a hit from graduations and non-returners, but Daniels and Clarner look to return in good form to lead a small, but resilient bunch. They have some work to do to get back to where they have been in previous years.”

Teams to beat: Portsmouth Christian, Gilford

WINNISQUAM

Coach: Rileigh Goulette (1st year)

2020:Boys: 9th in D-III; Girls: not enough runners to score

Outlook: Coach Goulette starts her first season with just 12 athletes on the roster (six boys, six girls), but she is looking to grow the program. The Bears have three boys back who ran at the D-III championship last year – seniors Joey Damato and Sheamus Dunn, and sophomore Nathan Lavoie – while senior Marguerite Parker ran at the state meet for the girls.




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