40th Annual Manchester Invitational Preview

Saturday – Live Twitter Updates, Post Race Interviews, Race Videos!!!

Race Schedule posted below previews!!!

Girls Small School

manchsmallgThe top four teams in the 2013 small school championship were all out-of-state schools and all four are back: Defending champ Tyngsborough (#11-MA); Greely (#1-ME); Harwood (#3-VT); and South Kingston, RI.  Led by sub-19:00, Katherine Leggat-Barr and with an average team time of 20:16, Greely looks to be the favorite in the first championship race of the day.  New Hampshire schools looking to crack the top five include Hopkinton, Oyster River, Hanover, and WindhamBobcat Doody wins.

Oyster River’s Maegan Doody ran 18:35 to place second overall in the elite race last year, and the New Hampshire junior will be running in the small school race this year. If anyone is to challenge Doody, it could be Leggat-Barr, who has run 18:51 this season.  Returning girls who broke 20 minutes in 2013 are Anne McKee (Jr, Kents Hill School, 19:31), and Kerri Keohane (Sr. Tyngsborough, 19:46). Saint Thomas’s Melissa Hiatt, Hopkinton’s Maddie Clark and Sarah Nadeau, Windham’s Kristen Tilley, and Oyster River’s Sophie Webb are among the New Hampshire athletes to watch.

Girls Large School

The Girls Large School race will have schools from four different states competing for the team title and should be highly competitive. With only 7 teams in the Elite race, that leaves 28 schools in the Large School, which will make it one of the biggest races of the day. manchlargeg

The favorites will be comprised of three of NH’s top 10 ranked teams including Londonderry (#7), Manchester Central (#8), and Exeter (#9). Londonderry is coming off a strong 3rd place finish at the Nashua North/South Invitational this past weekend, has a tight top five, but is lacking the front runner. Central has a strong front runner in Emily Harris but not as strong of a Murdockorgroup after her.  Exeter has the dynamic duo of Shannon Murdock and freshman standout Jacqueline Gaughan to lead them but again has a gap before the remaining 3 scorers.  This should make for a strong NH battle up front.  As for the out-of-state teams, Vermont will have three of their top 10 ranked schools with Mt. Mansfield (VT #4), Burlington (VT #6) and S. Burlington (VT #9).  Throw in Connecticut’s #8 ranked school of Conard High School and the race should be a competitive one across three states.

Individually, Shannon Murdock (Exeter, NH) seems to be the easy favorite as she is the top returner from last year’s Large School race and is off to a strong start already this fall. Assuming her teammate Gaughan doesn’t run the freshman race, she should be right on her heels.  After the Exeter pair, look for Bedford’s Gwyneth Winship, Mt. Mansfield, VT’s Acadia DiNardo, and Merrimack Valley, NH’s Kristie Schoffield to be rounding out the top five.  

Girls Elite

May as well call this Vermont v. NH.  The top 2 girls’ teams from the Green Mountain State, Manchester girls eliteperennial powerhouse Champlain Valley Union and Essex will take on five of the top six teams from the Granite State.  Coach Scott Bliss’s CVU looks to have the edge right now, but Saturday will be one more test.  Graduating only 2 from last year’s New England Championship squad, Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (#1-NH) is the favorite to win their second Elite title.  Led by Hannah Parker, Liz Danis and Brooke Laskowsky, the Lady Bears have three returners who have run in the 18’s at Derryfield.   Their season seems to just be beginning, but they seem to be most vulnerable at early in seasons.

manchsansingThe most intriguing showdown seems to be between Winnacunnet (#2-NH) v. Concord (#3-NH).  Both these teams are coming off big wins in recent invitationals.  Winnacunnet won the Bobcat Invitational with an average time of 19:52, while Concord won the Nashua Invitational with a 19:41 team average time.  If this was a larger field, one might give the edge to Concord who is led by the young upstart Cassie Shea who just dropped an 18:27 at Mines Falls.  For Winnacunnet to maintain their #2 NH ranking, they may need their 5th runner to finish closer to their top pack of 4.  If either of these falter, look for Pinkerton Academy led by Morgan Sansing to have a say, or one of the Vermont teams.

Individually, Pinkerton’s Sansing is coming off a big win over Concord’s Shea at the Nashua Invitational this past weekend.  She ran 18:16, but also became the 1st female harrier from Pinkerton to break the 18 minute barrier on their home course.  She seems to have the hot hand right now.  Joining these two, look for a pack of red from Coe-Brown featuring the aforementioned Parker, Danis and Laskowsky.  Also look for CVU’s Sophia Gorman and Essex’s Emma Ferrington.

Boys Small School
cbnaorAlthough this is the small school race, historically it can be one of the more competitive races at Manchester. However, with the graduation of 7 of the top 10 finishers from last year’s race, a slew of new faces should accompany the few returnees.  This is Manchester Invitational after all, so it will not disappoint.  The team battle could look like a rematch of the Black Bear Invitational from this past weekend, with several ranked schools from neighboring states sprinkled in.  Coe-Brown Northwood Academy (#5-NH), narrowly defeated defending NH D2 State Champion Oyster River (#6-NH) by only 13 points.  With OR’s Patrick O’Brien possibly vying for the individual title, CBNA will have to work hard as a pack to finish as near the top as possible. Davio DeLuca was the team’s first finisher last week, thirty seconds behind O’Brien.  Look for DeLuca to try to eat into that deficit this week.  The same can be said for OR’s fifth runner, who was 35 seconds behind CBNA’s fifth.  At the same time, the title will be determined by the battles that will ensue.  CBNA was only a couple seconds from putting four ahead of OR’s second, while OR’s 3/4 will be looking to run with CBNA’s 3/4 tharwo cut into that lead.  The other teams who will make sure this is not a 2-time intrastate affair will be Harwood Union, VT (#9-VT), led by the fastest returning individual Sam Nishi (16:02 last year) and two teams ranked in Maine, Cape Elizabeth (#9-ME), and Greely (#7-ME).

Individually, by virtue of his 16:02 at Derryfield last year, Nishi of Harwood Union looks to be the favorite at this time.  Other returners like Hopkinton, NH’s Dom Repucci (16:24 last year) and Lebanon, NH’s Josh Fontaine (16:29 last year) will hope to challenge for the title.  Repucci has looked very fast early on this year.  In his first race last Fontaine, coming off of injury, clearly was running within himself, but very strong.  If he runs on full throttle look for him in the end as well.  Don’t be surprised if newcomers like O’Brien of Oyster River, Chandler Vincent, Freeport, ME, Kyle Kennedy, Cape Elizabeth, ME.

Boys Large School

Tnnendhis year’s large school race looks to be extremely intense and an all-out battle for top NH individual as well as top NH team. 

With a convincing win last week at the Nashua Cross Country Invite, Pinkerton Academy (#1-NH) looks to be the top NH team. With two excellent up-front runners in Tom Hanlon and Nick Sevilla and their remaining 3-6 guys only under a minute back, the Astros seem like they have too much depth and talent for the other NH teams to get close.  However, they will have their hands full with race favorite Bishop Hendricken (#2-RI).  Both Hendricken and Pinkerton have had recent average times in the 16:40 range, so it should turn out to be a great team race between these perennial powerhouses.  Also look for Hall High School (#6-CT) to be a factor.

The battle for 2nd NH team may be a lot closer however. Timberlane (#2-NH) and Londonderry (#3-NH) have excellent squads that may match up well, and Alvirne (#4-NH) looks like it is ready to be a real contender. 2nd through 4th could go any which way and may be decided by who has the better grouping in their 4-5 spots as all three teams have very good talent up front. Alvirne’s 4-5 will have to run very well for the Broncos to be on par with the Owls and Lancers however.

Concord (#5-NH) and Nashua North (#8-NH) look to be next in line to grab the 5 and 6 spots. Contrasting approaches here: Concord very good up front but spaced out over their top 5, North without a top front runner but with outstanding grouping.

Look for Nashua South (#9-NH), Portsmouth, and Souhegan to threaten the top 6: Portsmouth and Souhegan both have top flight front runners and a decmanchboys largeent supporting cast, and South finished only 3 points behind North at the Nashua Cross Country Invite.

With the Boys Elite race cancelled, this race will be big and chock full of talent. The finishing straightaway should be an absolute madhouse as teams and individuals jockey for position!

Individually, Exeter’s Justin Carbone, Souhegan’s Eli Moskowitz, and Bedford’s Scott Daly seem to be the favorites for top NH male runner. In hot pursuit however is an extremely talented bunch, any of whom could overtake the top projected 3 with a good race. Pinkerton’s Tom Hanlon and Nick Sevilla, Concord’s Alex Saveliev, Alvirne’s Phil Demers, Portsmouth’s Brian Reaney, Central’s Abram Gagnon, and Timberlane’s Liam Kimball cannot be discounted as contenders.

Good luck to all, and good racing!

Meet Schedule

9:00 AM Girls Freshmen race
9:30 AM Boys Freshmen race
10:00 AM Girls JV race
10:45 AM Boys JV race
11:15 AM Girls A race — Small School Division
12:00 PM Boys A race — Small School Division
12:30 PM Girls Elite race
1:00 PM Lunch Break
1:30 PM Girls’ A race — Large School Division
2:00 PM Boys A race — Large School Division
2:30 PM Presentation of awards-Varsity Races Only