Cross country: Concord girls qualify for Meet of Champions with 5th-place finish

Concord’s Shelly Smith heads towards the finish line at the NHIAA Division I cross country championship on Saturday. Smith finished in 17th place to lead the Crimson Tide to fifth place as a team, earning a spot at next weekend’s Meet of Champions.

Concord’s Shelly Smith heads towards the finish line at the NHIAA Division I cross country championship on Saturday. Smith finished in 17th place to lead the Crimson Tide to fifth place as a team, earning a spot at next weekend’s Meet of Champions. JAY SMITH / NHXCTF

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 10-29-2023 9:35 AM

The Concord girls were just hoping to get seventh, enough to book a spot at next Saturday’s Meet of Champions. They ended up finishing fifth.

Junior Shelly Smith led the way for the Crimson Tide, freshman Quinn Doherty had a breakout day and everyone else ran well behind them as Concord exceeded its own expectations on Saturday at the NHIAA Division I cross country championship at Derryfield Park.

Bedford senior Kelseigh O’Neill won the girls’ race in 18 minutes, 56.99 seconds and teammate Fiona Lee finished second, but Pinkerton went 3-4-5 to defend its team title with 42 points.

Bedford and Dover tied at second with 127 points, with Bedford getting silver via the tiebreaker rule. Exeter (129) finished fourth with Concord (143) not far behind. 

It wasn’t supposed to be that close.

“We’re stoked. We’re really happy,” Concord girls’ head coach Ally Davis said. “They ran really hard. They do a great job working with each other as a pack and it worked out today for them.”

Smith finished 17th in 20:58, followed by Doherty (21st, 21:09) who moved up a few places from her typical spot in the order.

“Quinn had a really standout day,” Davis said. "She’s been moving up all season. She runs with her whole heart and we’re so proud of her.”

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Senior Chloe Gudas (24th, 21:11), sophomore Bella Komorek (37th, 22:06), senior Morgan Doherty (44th, 22:25), and freshmen Gianna Gualtieri (45th, 22:26) and Mahalie Burdette (63rd, 23:03) were the Tide’s other runners.

It’s a younger and less-experienced team that Concord is used to, but the rookies stepped up and made an immediate impact.

“They have so much potential, so I’m excited to see what they can do,” said Gudas. “This has been a great season team culture-wise, so I’m excited it's continuing.”

“I’ve been so blessed to have such great leaders to show (the freshmen) what it means to be a good team member,” said Davis, referring to seniors Gudas, Morgan Doherty and Ava Philbrook.

Nashua North (168) and Bishop Guertin (190) round out the D-I girls’ teams headed to MOCs at Alvirne High School.

Bishop Guertin junior Matthew Giardina (15:51.85) was the boys’ individual champion, with Nashua South (51) taking the team title.

Pinkerton (101), Salem (114), Bedford (124), Londonderry (146), Bishop Guertin (154) and Keene (170)  were the other top seven boys’ teams.

Concord finished 13th with 337 points.

Sophomore Josiah Conley (sixth, 16:34) qualified for the MOC individually.

“Tough day with the heat, some of the guys have been sick, there’s a cold going around,” Concord boys’ head coach Zach Procek said. “Someone had the flu last week, but we went out there and did the best we could today. The guys were all saying at the end of the race that they gave it everything they possibly could. So I’m pretty happy and proud of how they performed. We’ve got a young crew and a lot of progress to make over the next few years, but things are looking up.”

Freshman Ian Mamos (52nd, 18:23) was next across the line for the Tide. Senior Tyler Watt (87th, 19:37), sophomore Elliot Clendenning (94th, 19:52) and senior William Chorlian (98th, 19:56) were Concord’s other scoring runners, with freshmen Oliver Conley (113th, 20:43) and Colby O’Brien (124th, 22:02) completing the lineup.

Similar to the girls’ roster, this is the least experienced team Procek has had in his five years as the boys’ head coach.

“The guys have been learning a lot week by week, and we’re still finding out where their ceiling is,” Procek said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do as they learn how to dig deep and get into racing over the next couple of years.”