The 88th New England Cross Country Championships are Saturday at Belfast Middle School in Belfast, ME. All New England states except Massachusetts will be competing. Each state is allowed 6 teams and any other individual placing in the top twenty five of their respective state meet. The girls race first at 11:30am and the boys are slated to take off at 12:15pm. NH always stands united in our friendly competition with the other New England states! So wear your NHCC shirts! Cheer for one another! We will be there snapping pics, recording races and conducting interviews!!!
In this spirit, we will have a few guests involved from other states this weekend contributing to the race videos and interviews. Scott Bliss, long time coach of Champlain Valley, has penned quite the comprehensive preview. Since leaving coaching, he has started a free website to truly cover Vermont High School Cross Country (sound familiar?). With his permission, his preview is posted below. Please check out his site! It genuinely reminds us of, well, us! He brings experience from a coaching career which included numerous state and New England titles as well as multiple trips to Nike Cross Nationals. Thanks Scott!
By Scott Bliss
This race could come down to can anyone break a Connecticut top three sweep…Ridgefield on paper must be the favorite coming in but Danbury will most likely not go quietly in a CT battle for the top spot. Right on their heels should be the New England power from RI Bishop Hendricken and another CT team Xavier. But if you think the ends the list of teams that could be competing for a top 5 spot you just need to look at the remaining teams speed ratings for their top 5 runners and it is clear that there are other teams who could on any given day push their way into a top 5 or higher spot! Nashua South(NH) and Cumberland(RI) are two examples that look to be right there and are looking for any slip up to get on to the podium in Belfast.
Ridgefield comes into the race with the best resume. They are ranked #5 in the most recent Dyestat/Runnerspace Northeast rankings and #28 nationally. They just won the CT Open over Danbury 60-84 but Danbury beat them in the Class LL championship race two weeks ago 59-70. A footnote to the LL race is, it was postponed because of the brutal heat in CT for their class championships that weekend, so who knows if that had any factor in the result. The Ridgefield top three of race favorite Steven Hergenrother, Magnus Manley and Charles Lovett should put Ridgefield into an early lead considering all three are in the top 25 of speed ratings in this race. They are the only team to have three runners on that list. Their 4 and 5 are in a solid position to support the front running trio and that is why they are the favorites in the race.
Danbury is going to do everything in their power to change the script again on Ridgefield though. They are led by Devon Rosemark who should be in the front pack but their power is that the next four are all in the same group. That limits the amount of displacement that can hurt them in a much bigger race like New Englands. This looks like the area where Danbury may be able to pull off the upset. Their 1-5 spread at the State Open was an amazing 17 seconds! If there is significant displacement between Danbury’s 4 and 5 and Ridgefield’s 4 and 5, it could result in Danbury knocking off Ridgefield again. That is an area of the race where there could be 4 or 5 runners coming into the finish line at the same time and could result in some pretty big point swings. This could be a battle to the line between these two powerhouse teams.
Everyone else seems to be battling for that third podium position but also making sure that they are in a position to move into the top 2 if either of the favorites have any issues. This next group should be led by perennial New England power Bishop Hendricken. They run a very tight pack like Danbury and in a race of this size this could significantly benefit them. Their 1-5 spread at the RI State Meet was 24 seconds. This pack of Jack Moretta, Colby Flynn, Will Olsen, Sam Zabbo and Ollie Ide will be their strength. The tight 24 second gap doesn’t allow many people to break up their scoring five and should benefit them this weekend. Another RI team that could try to use the power of their top 3 to also get into the podium mix would be Cumberland. They are led by Sam Henderson who should be looking for a top 5 position individually which instantly gives them a low stick. Their 2 and 3 of Connor Magill and William O’Shea should be battling in the area of the other contenders 2nd and 3rd runners so it may come down to if their 4th and 5th can get high enough in the pack to get them on the podium.
The other three teams trying to push their way into at least the top five, all have runners that should be pushing the top 25, but their fates will probably be decided by their 4th and 5th runners. One intriguing team is St Johnsbury VT who has a trio of runners up front in Andrew Thornton-Sherman, Carson Eames and Emmett Johnson (it looks like St J may be without their #1 so that will obviously change their outlook for the overall). Thornton-Sherman had an issue at the VT State Meet and didn’t finish, but he has been their #1 all season and should be battling for a top spot in the race. Eames took the VT D1 individual championship and Johnson is an all New England 1600 meter runner, so the fast course should suit him just fine. Their final result will rest on the position of their 4th and 5th because there could be some big displacement issues in those spots for them.
Nashua South NH has a solid 1:00 gap from 1-5 and should put themselves in a position to be battling for a top 5 team position in the race. Their top 3 of Dante Castellano, Daniel Byrne and Andrew Byrne should have them in position and then it will be up to what happens behind them. The final team that should be in the top 5 mix is Xavier CT. They were 3rd in the CT Open last weekend and have a 1-5 spread of :56 and are solid 1-5. The question is will solid be enough to push them into a top 5 position? If they make sure that they are prepared to take advantage of a team in front of them possibly making a mistake on the fast Belfast course they maybe able to push themselves into a top 5 position.
The boys race should be another amazing race to watch and may be too close to call before the official results are released. There are so many of the top teams’ runners, which will be in the same finish position, it will make it hard to score in your head and the mass of people coming in each second, will make it harder to determine where a specific runner has finished. It will be of utmost importance for all teams to run through the line to make sure they don’t drop a needless point or two that could determine the eventual winner. This should be a fun one!
Andrew Thortnon-Sherman, St Johnsbury 180
Carson Eames, St Johnsbury 178
Porter Hurteau, BFA St Albans 177
Matthew Giardina, Bishop Guertin 182
Lucian Gleiser, Hanover 179
Sullivan Sturtz, Keene 178
Jacob Redman, Bedford 178
Jake Pitre, Sanborn Regional 177
Steven Hergenrother, Ridgefield 189
Soheib Dissa, Newtown 188
Isaac Mahler, Hall 185
Griffin Mandirola, Suffield 183
Collin Walsh, New Milford 180
Jack Mattingly, E.O. Smith 180
Luke Cushing, Amity 179
Magnus Manley, Ridgefield 178
Sean McCaulsey, East Lyme 178
Colby Bornstein, Tolland 178
Charles Lovett, Ridgefield 177
Evan Bureau, Bethel 177
Devon Rosemark, Danbury 177
Sam Henderson, Cumberland 185
Brandon Piedade, Barrington 180
Myles Napolitano, Barrington 179
Sean Gray, Portsmouth 179
Jack Moretta, Bishop Hendricken 177
Maddox Jordan, Noble 180
Kaleb Colson, Sumner Memorial 178
Nathan Blades, Portland 177
Sam Laverdiere, Lake Region 177
- Steven Hergenrother, Ridgefield CT 189
- Soheib Dissa, Newtown CT 188
- Sam Henderson, Cumberland RI 185
- Issac Mahler, Hall CT 185
- Griffin Mandirola, Suffield CT 183
- Matthew Giardina, Bishop Guertin NH 182
- Andrew Thorton-Sherman, St Johnsbury VT 180
- Maddox Jordan, Noble ME 180
- Brandon Piedade, Barrington RI 180
- Collin Walsh, New Milford 180
- Jack Mattingly, E.O. Smith CT 180
- Myles Napolitano, Barrington RI 179
- Sean Gray, Portsmouth RI 179
- Luke Cushing, Amity CT 179
- Lucian Gleiser, Hanover NH 179
- Sullivan Sturtz, Keene NH 178
- Jacob Redman, Bedford NH 178
- Carson Eames, St Johnsbury, VT 178
- Magnus Manley, Ridgefield CT 178
- Seam McCauley, East Lyme CT 178
- Colby Bornstein, Tolland CT 178
- Kaleb Colson, Sumner Memor ME 178
- Porter Hurteau, BFA St Albans VT 177
- Jack Moretta, Bishop Hendricken RI 177
- Jack Pitre, Sanborn Regional NH 177
- Charles Lovett, Ridgefield CT 177
- Evan Bureau, Bethel CT 177
- Devon Rosemark, Danbury CT 177
- Nathan Blades, Portland ME 177
The boys individual race has 11 boys with speed ratings of 180 or higher at their qualifying meets which
should lead to an amazing race at the front of the field. Steven Hergenrother of Ridgefield CT will be looking to move up one spot from last year after his 2nd place finish in RI to take the overall individual title. He will be challenged by a trio of CT runners and one RI interloper. This group consists of Soheib Dissa (Newtown CT), who finished 2nd to Hergenrother in the CT Open meet last weekend. He was only 5 seconds off the winner’s pace and clearly is a threat to him at this race. Isaac Mahler (Hall CT) was 3rd the Open meet and should be running near the front of the pack once again. The third member of the CT group is Griffin Mandirola (Suffield CT) who was 4th at the Open and will be pushing to close that gap on his nutmeg state competitors. Sam Henderson (Cumberland RI) is going to do his best to upset the CT train. Henderson on the RI Open Meet last weekend with an impressive 15:33 on the Covered Bridges course.
Just behind this group of 5 is a massive group that could really finish anywhere from top 5 to somewhere in the All New England top 25 positions. I’m going to break them into 2 groups but really it is so close that any runner in the second group could easily end up in a top 10 position. They are legitimately all separated by 15 seconds or under on any given day. The first group consists of Matthew Giardina (Bishop Guertin NH), Andrew Thornton-Sherman (St Johnsbury VT), Maddox Jordan (Noble ME), Brandon Piedade (Barrington RI), Collin Walsh (New Milford CT) and Jack Mattingly (E.O. Smith CT). These 6 runners range from a speed rating of 182 to 180 and considering that each point is in the range of about a difference in time of 3 seconds then you can see how close this group is on paper. This entire group is looking to compete for at least a top 10 finish and push to try and get into the top 5.
The next group of 11 runners is once again so close on paper it is hard to know who will finish where. They also are barely off of the group in front of them so many have legitimate chances to finish in the top 10. This group has a speed rating spread of 179-178 between all 11 runners so on paper they are separated by 3ish seconds! This is just an example of how close the racing may be and why it may be so hard to tell who the team winner is on Saturday. This group consists of Myles Napolitano (Barrington RI), Sean Gray (Portsmouth RI), Luke Cushing (Amity CT), Lucian Gleiser (Hanover NH), Sullivan Sturtz (Keene NH), Jacob Redman (Bedford, NH), Jamie Lano (Coe-Brown, NH), Carson Eames (St Johnsbury VT), Magnus Manley (Ridgefield CT), Sean McCauley (East Lyme CT), Colby Bornstein (Tolland CT) and Kaleb Colson (Sumner Memorial, ME). Anyone in this group can push for a top 10 spot on any given day. They are all so close that it should lead to an amazing race.
I can’t leave out the next group of 7 runners because they are, once again, all too close to call on paper; probably within 3-6 seconds from the group in front of them on paper. The group that could compete for top 10 and All New England spots is at least 29 deep in this boys field. This group consists of Porter Hurteau (BFA St Albans VT), Jack Moretta (Bishop Hendricken RI), Jack Pitre (Sanborn Regional NH), Charles Lovett (Ridgefield CT), Evan Bureau (Bethel CT), Devon Rosemark (Danbury CT) and Nathan Blades (Portland ME). I cannot stress enough how many possible top 25 level runners are in this field. Last year there were 18 runners coming in with a speed rating of 177 or higher from their qualifying meets and this year there are 29. This amount of quality runners should create a situation where there are some blazing times run on Saturday.
The boys will close out the festivities at Belfast with their race starting at 12:15 pm. This race is loaded with talent and the team race should be a close one. There should be extremely tight racing and that should help to promote some impressive performances. The forecast for Saturday is a high of 42 with sunshine which should be almost perfect to promote great results and hopefully the snow they are getting today will not affect the race course this weekend. This should be a great way to close out the New England cross country season! Good luck to all the runners!