2023 Meet of Champions Preview!

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2023 MOC Streakers

Divisional Merges

NH Meet of Champions!  18 teams competing for 6 spots going to New Englands at Belfast, ME next Saturday.  The most direct piece of data we use for this has to be the merges from last weekend.  But these are from the Division State Championships, a very different meet on a very different course.  Division meets are intimate, careful but intense races, while MOCs are a frenzy of competition.  Derryfield is one of the hilliest courses in New England, while Alvirne, this year’s site for Meet of Champions, is one of the fastest.  So, take what the merges say with a grain of salt. We also have an additional nugget of information as this year’s Battle of the Border meet included most of the state ranked teams.

Girls Race 2:30pm

Last year, based on the merge, we were anticipating a rather close meet as the top 3 teams on the merge were separated by only 6 points. But then, Hanover ran away with the title. This year, on the merge, Oyster River has a bit more of a cushion (kind of) with 7 points over Pinkerton and 35 over Hanover. Further, the D2 Champs did win the Battle of the Border by 35 points over Hanover. So, yes, NH#1 Oyster River is the favorite. Led by juniors Mackenzie Cook and Haley Kavanagh, the Bobcats have successfully prepared a trio of first year high school XC athletes as their 3-4-5 scorers. Freshman Haley Bezanson and sophomore (but 1st year xc runner) Neely Roy have been inseparable the entire season. They, along with freshman Madelyn Cook, Mackenzie’s younger sister, have been consistent all season long. Expect the same on Saturday.

Looking to ride the wave of momentum will be D1 Champs Pinkerton. Led by seniors Contessa Silva and Isabelle Groulx along with freshman Sookie Folsom, the Trail Blazers are poised to give the Bobcats all they can handle come Saturday. Keep in mind, Pinkerton was without Silva at Battle of the Border. It will be interesting to see how Pinkerton measures up to Oyster River at full strength.

Hanover, which has kept Oyster River on their toes the entire season, will be looking to rise up and finally push up over the hill. Led by the best runner in the state thus far, Leah Perreard, Hanover is guaranteed a low stick. But others should beware of the remainder of their line-up as Lila Muirhead is no-joke as co-pilot along with sister sophomore Megan Faris. These three give Hanover a trio of relative low sticks. If their 4-5 can close every so closer, Hanover could once again steal the show.

After these three, the chase pack of teams should be led by Bedford and Dover. Bedford led by D1 State Champ Kelseigh O’Neil and Fiona Lee does have the advantage of the low numbers through the top two setting up the classic showdown with the classic pack team which is the Green Wave of Dover. Dover, led by Anique Poulin, Alyson Bortz, and Margaret Spuler, will be looking to move up the ranks as a pack to help their cause, but they should qualify comfortably for New Englands.

Battling for the 6th and final New england qualifying spot should be Exeter, Concord and possibly Nashua North. Exeter seems to have the slight edge due to their low stick of freshman Eli Cross, but don’t over look the Crimson Tide of Concord as they have a bit of a pack which if they move up, or have 1 low stick emerge, could be all the difference. North has proven they can run solid if they find each other and work together especially with their 3-4-5 runners.

Individually, undefeated in NH, the D2 Champ, Hanover’s Perreard is the obvious favorite; however, don’t overlook the newly crowned D1 Champ O’Neil as she is certainly riding a wave of confidence into this weekend’s meet. Her time was within 10 seconds of Perreard’s this past Saturday. Expect OR’s Mackenzie Cook to be a factor up front as she hasbeen all year. Also, if we are spotlighting O’Neil, we have to include her teammate, Lee as one of the favorites as well.

The chase pack should see Hanover’s Muirhead, Pinkerton’s Silva, Groulx and Folsom. Don’t be shocked to see Kavanagh way up there as she has been making leaps with her comeback. Furthermore, don’t be shocked to see D3 Champ, Hopkinton’s Madeleine Lane in the mix as well!

Boys Race 3:20pm

The boys landscape looks quite similar to what we were looking at prior to Battle of the Border earlier this season. NH#1 and D1 Champs, Nashua South is favorite. Led by Dante Castellano and Daniel Byrne, if they all run solid races, South will win. Further, if their 3-4-5, Cameron Patronick, Andrew Byrne and Ryan DuVarney could shrink their pack time to less than 20 seconds, they will be impossible to beat.

Also riding momentum heading into MOCs has to be D2 Champs Hanover. Sitting, on paper, only 10 points behind South, Hanover could be considered co-favorites. Usually led by Lucian Gleiser, his teammate Ryan Faris along with Andrew Valentino and freshman Ben Groves stepped up big time last week. If they can repeat this performance, they could very well find themselves at the top of the podium.

Heading into BoB earlier this season, Coe-Brown was ranked 7th in the state and upset the field to win. Led by D2 Champ, Jamie Lano, Coe-Brown has found a new identity with Sanjith Nomula and Luc Kerouac partnering to rise through ranks of NH this year. Throw in senior experience with Liam McLean, one of their 5-6 runners could bridge the gap to McLean, they could by the surprise once again.

Pinkerton, led by Finn Christensen Krafft is not too far behind CBNA, but would seemingly lead the chase pack of the top three. Salem, NH#5, continues to be season-long solid and entrenched to likely punch their ticket to NEs. They are led by super soph Brody Chisholm. Jacob Redman-led Bedford should also qualify. They have been ranked in the top 6 the entire season; however one of the surprises of the season, Londonderry may indeed continue to rise into a New England qualifying slot. And if we are considering Londonderry, we have to look at Souhegan as well as Bishop Guertin as they are all within 10 points of each other on the merge.

Identical to the girls, BG’s Matthew Giardina, undefeated v. NH runners, is the favorite. He should win, and use this is a qualifying meet in preparation for taking a shot at the New England title next week. On the merge, sophomore Sullivan Sturtz is next best then D3 Champ, Gilford freshman Bocelli Howland-Vlahakis. However, the only harrier to successfully shadow Giardina for more than a mile is D2 Champ, Lano. At Battle of the Border he hung through 2.5 miles. Expect more of the same with Sturtz and Vlahakis taking their shots. Beyond them, don’t be surprised to see South’s Castellano and Daniel Byrne. then watch for Souhegan’s Taloosh Anderson as well as Pinkerton’s Christensen Krafft as they are second half racers for sure. will be good.

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