Well its here! Thanksgiving weekend!!! Nike Cross and Champs Northeast Regionals are Saturday! Over the better half of the last decade, NH has flexed its ‘per capita’ muscle with teams and individuals qualifying for with Nike Cross Nationals or Footlocker. Nike Cross is the goal for the region’s best teams. Identical to NCAA Regionals, the top 2 teams in each region get an automatic berth to Nike Cross Nationals held the following weekend in Portland, Oregon (all expenses paid by Nike!). Further, the top 5 individuals NOT on a qualifying team also make the meet. Regardless, this regional event itself is annually incredible!
New this year for Footlocker Northeast is the move to Franklin Park in Boston. For the first time in its history, the Northeast Regional will not be held at Van Cortlandt Park in NYC and is much closer to home. It stands to reason this will be popular for athletes in Northern New England. For those not familiar, the top 10 finishers in each of the 4 regions qualify for Foot Locker Nationals.
Foot Locker is the older sibling for individuals, no teams, hoping to qualify for a trip to the national championship in San Diego, California. Nike Cross Nationals, NXN, was created to crown a National Team Champion. The top 2 teams in each region automatically qualified for the trip to the national championships in Portland, Oregon, but as the Hanover girls showed us in 2007 and the Coe-Brown girls in 2013, 4 teams across the country can nab an at-large bid to the meet as well. In 2017, Souhegan girls became the third NH program to qualify for a trip to Oregon. Of note, the 2007 Hanover team placed 4th!
Individuals can also qualify for NXN from each region by placing in the top 5 individuals who are not on a qualifying team, as Hanover’s Heidi Caldwell did in 2008 along with teammate Aaron Watanabe in 2008/2009, Bishop Guertin’s Caroline Fischer demonstrated in 2016, Coe-Brown’s Liz Danis did in 2015, Oyster River’s Maegan Doody did in 2014, and West’s Julia Robitaille did in 2017. In 2021 Coe-Brown’s Aidan Cox won the Northeast Regional and he, along with Gilford’s Patrick Gandini made it 2 Granite State athletes qualifying for the big dance in Portland in 2022! What should we watch for this year? Check it out below!
Live Webcast Link – runnerspace subscription required
This year, 5 NH teams and several individuals are making the trip to Nike Cross Northeast Regional in Wappinger’s Falls, NY where the historical Bowdoin Park runs quite similar to Derryfield. The course climbs the first half culminating at 1.5 miles, not 2 miles like Derryfield. Then it is a free fall down to the last 1k. But different from Manch, this is basically a flat loop with one final short hill. For the girls NH #1 Oyster River (Bobcat Track Club) and #9 Souhegan (Sabers) will be competing in the Championship Race. While Souhegan makes this an annual trip and knows the scene well, Oyster River is making their debut at Bowdoin. Both are in the Championship Race. Ranked #5 in the Northeast Region, and fresh off their runner-up finish at New Englands, Oyster River has to be considered a contender. We know their names well as they are led by Mackenzie Cook and Haley Kavanagh. Along with first year high school harriers, Haley Bezanson, Neely Roy and Madelyn Cook, the Bobcats will not only be focused on this year but next as well. Displacement can actually be the deciding factor for a trip to Oregon (CBNA tied for 2nd in 2015, placed 3rd), so also watch for Talia Banafato and Jahrie Houle to potentially factor as well. They will be racing a familiar team as Champlain Valley Union, VT is one of the favorites to qualify for a trip toe Oregon. In addition to Souhegan and Oyster River, our friends from Phillips Exeter are scheduled to compete as well.
The boys side has 3 NHIAA schools representing the Granite State. NH#5 Coe-Brown (The Bears), NH#6 Souhegan (Sabers), and NH#7 Bishop Guertin (Cardinals) are slated to compete. Also, as with the girls team, our friends from Phillips Exeter will be in the Championship race. They have once again dominated their league, as well as won this year’s Manchester and Black Bear Invitationals and are hoping for an NXN berth. While CBNA, Souhegan, and BG will certainly make their presence felt and run strong as NH schools usually do, watch for the individuals from the Granite State to factor in and strive for All-Northeast honors (if not better!). Individually NH is sending all 3 individual Divisional Champions as well a couple key individuals who have experienced real success this season. D1 and MOC Champ BG’s Matthew Giardina, All-New England Keene’s Sully Sturtz, D2 Champ CBNA’s Jamie Lano, D3 Champ Gilford’s Bocelli Howland-Vlahakis, are slated to compete. Expect Giardina, and Sturtz to stick their noses in the front pack. Also look for Lano, Howland-Vlahakis and Simard to push the second half to take their own shots! All these gentlemen have had breakthroughs this season. Other NH All Stars include Con-Val’s William Simard, CBNA’s Sanjith Nomula, BG’s Carson Fischer, Souhegan’s Taloosh Anderson and Owen Stine. The favorite of the race has to be PEA’s Byron Grevious as he not only was runner up last year but was also an All-American at NXN in 2022!
A strong group of Granite Staters are making the short trip to Boston and the historical Franklin Park which has been the venue for Championship events held on every level including the World XC Championships! Several NH All Stars are on the entry list! Remember top 10 in each Championship race qualifies for Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, CA. On the girls side look for Bedford’s Kelseigh O’Neil and Fiona Lee, Hopkinton’s Madeleine Lane, Winnacunnet’s Charlotte Koutalidis, Hopkinton’s Shaylee Murdough, Newfound’s Addison Alpers and Cieli Irving. On the boys’ side of things watch for Sanborn’s Jake Pitre, PCA’s Jonas Teeter, Exeter’s Gavin Malark, South’s Daniel Byrne, Dante Castellano and Cameron Patronick.
There does not seem to be a live stream offered. If you know of one, please comment below!
Good luck to all!