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Since 2006, the best of the best in NH have descended upon the rolling and challenging course in Northwood as the Black Bear Invitational has become one of highest quality cross country meets in NH. As always several of the states’ ranked teams as well as Champlain Valley Union, VT (CVU), Phillips Exeter, two of the better programs in all of the Northeast, and Phillips Academy of Andover, MA will be competing. This makes Black Bear one of the premiere contests of the fall season. Specific to NHIAA schools look for #1 Oyster River, #2 Hanover, #5 Dover, and #6 Winnacunnet on the girls side, along with #2 Hanover, #7 Coe-Brown, and #10 Oyster River on the boys side. Get there early as this meet will also feature highly competitive middle school races beginning at 9:00am! See the future of NHCC!
How often do we get to see two #1 teams from neighboring states with one being ranked in the top 3 in the Northeast? Well we are in for another treat as Vermont’s #1 and Northeast #3 CVU returns to Northwood and the Black Bear Invitational. Led by Alice Kredell and Estella Laird, CVU is coming off a dominant win at last week’s Manchester Invitational. Continuing their NH tour, they will be looking to do the same at Coe-Brown on Saturday.
Challenging them for sure will be NH#1 Oyster River. With the momentum from their own big win at Manchester in the Small School Race, the Bobcats will be looking to continue their rise with yet another strong performance. Led by Mackenzie Cook and Haley Kavanagh, they are also quite young with two freshmen in Madelyn Cook and Haley Bezanson as well as sophomore Neely Roy.
NH’s #2 ranked team is also going to be toeing the line as Hanover will be looking to turn the tables on Oyster River. Last week, Hanover was only 10 points behind the Bobcats and in the D2 merge that lead shrunk even more. With possibly the individual favorite of Leah Perreard as the ultimate low stick as well as Lila Muirhead, Hanover certainly has the firepower to continue this seesaw.
Also coming off strong MI48 performances, Phillips Academy as well as Phillips Exeter Academy will certainly contend for the runner-up position. Along with #5 Dover led by Anique Poulin and #6 Winnacunnet led by Charlotte Koutalidis that makes 7 ranked teams contending!
As mentioned above, individually, Hanover’s Perreard would look like the pre-race favorite as she had the top time at Manch last week. The chase pack with certainly be a strong one with Perreard’s teammate Muirhead, CVU’s Kredell and Laird, Oyster River’s Cook, Phillips Academy Storrie Kulyaych-Irwin, PEA’s Daria Ivanova and Tenley Nelson, and Hopkinton’s Madeline Lane.
The boys race will of course feature PEA’s Byron Grevious fresh off his season opening win at Manchester. He, the #2 ranked runner in the country, will be looking to claim yet another course record as he returns to the Black Bear to defend his title. But don’t overlook his team as PEA is also Northeast Region’s “Watch List” backed up by winning the Manchester Invitational last week rather comfortably. With names like Max Lacombe and Jack Hutchins, PEA will be looking to take another NH invitational and to defend their 2022 Black Bear title.
Perhaps their largest competition will be from their own league as Phillips Academy makes their Black Bear XC debut. Led by Tam Gavenas who was within 10 seconds of Grevious, the team from Andover, MA will certainly look to make some in roads on their rival through the woods on the CBNA campus.
Hanover, NH’s #2 team, will be the top ranked NH team in attendance. Led by Lucian Gleiser, who is coming off the biggest XC win of his life last week in the small school race. Hanover also boasts a nice pack of 2-5 finishing within 40 seconds of one another last week.
VT#3 CVU will be looking to crack the top 3 here and are led by Daniel Knight. Host school Coe-Brown, NH’s #7, and led by Jamie Lano, knows the course better than any team. Expect them to put in a great performance. Their route 4 rivals, Oyster River seems to be making moves off their strong MI48 performance sees them ranked #10.
Individually, expect Grevious and Gavenas to wage war once again over at least the opening mile. Don’t be surprised to see Lano and Gleiser giving chase. With them could also be Gilford’s freshman phenom Bocelli Howland-Vlahakis, Phillips Max Huang. Forming the secondary chase pack should be PCA’s Jonas Teeter, Monadnock’s Carlton Lampinen and Peyton Joslin and Sanborn’s Jake Pitre.